When I first converted to the Catholic faith in 1989, I couldn’t wait to go to church on Sundays. The liturgy was captivating and brought me hope and strength for the coming week. The music and singing lifted me up, the homily edified me, and the communion I received with the Lord and other worshipers made me feel whole and part of something bigger than myself. The Mass was an irresistible experience for me, and I looked forward to it as each weekend approached.
Indeed, the first and most fundamental purpose of the Church is worship. As Psalm 34:3 says, “O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together.” To worship God fulfills the first portion of the Great Commandment Jesus gave in Matthew 22:37-40: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all our soul and with all your mind.”
In the second reading at Mass today, Saint Paul encourages his readers to cast off ignorance that leads to sin through worship. Instead, “be filled with the Spirit,” he urges them, “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts” (Ephesians 5:18-19). Throughout Scripture we’re commanded to celebrate God’s presence by adoring him in liturgy and common worship.
Our fundamental identity as stewards for God can lead us to the incorrect conclusion that service to others should be our primary goal. Sometimes we get so busy serving God by trying to do good deeds that we forget to offer the first and best sacrifice of our time in prayer. However, the Bible says, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Matthew 4:10). Notice that worship is primary and comes before service.
Saint Paul says that we are to “give thanks always and for everything” (Eph. 5:20). Indeed, Christian stewards are grateful for all of God’s blessings. The greatest of these, however, is the opportunity and ability to worship him.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
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