Today’s first Mass reading from the Letter to the Hebrews tells us that “we must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another.”
What came to my mind as I prayed with the passage this morning was something I have, on many occasions, heard people say: “I don’t need to go to Mass on Sunday. I can pray to God just as well [in my room][in the woods][elsewhere].”
Of course it it true that we are always in the presence of God and can pray to God at any time and anywhere. We dont’ need to go to Mass to be with God.
But to use the fact that I can pray to God anywhere and anytime as an excuse not to go to Mass views the value of Mass purely from the point of view of my own need. It makes Mass about just me and God, something that is fundamentally mistaken.
St. Paul reminds us that we come together not only for ourselves, but for each other. “We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another.”
Mass is not just about me and God, but about God, me and my community. We come together, we pray together, we take Eucharist together.
We may never know how our interactions with others may encourage or rouse them to love and good works. Perhaps something we say before or after Mass or during coffee and donuts. Maybe just a kind smile when we pass them. Maybe we or they see something at one of the tables in the narthex about our parish’s charitable and social justice activities. But that doesn’t minimize the importance of our coming together.