St. Paul was a Jew – a devout and learned Pharisee. After his conversion, his heart was broken that his own people, the Jews, would not accept the message of the Messiah. We see some of that heartbreak on today’s first reading from Romans 9. It reminds me of the heartbreak so many of us feel when our family members stray from the faith.
In today’s Gospel reading from Luke 14, Jesus talks again about healing on the Sabbath. He heals a man and then points out the hypocrisy of the leaders as He says, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?” He let them know that the law of mercy takes precedent over the law of not “working” on the Sabbath.
I want to take this passage from a different angle today, regarding Mass. We know that there are legitimate (grave) reasons to miss Sunday Mass. If you’re at the bedside of a loved one in danger of imminent death, that would certainly qualify. But are there times when we skip Mass for much less serious reasons? And once we’ve skipped Mass once, doesn’t it become easier and easier to find more excuses not to go? It can be a slippery (and dangerous) slope. We must take seriously the Commandment to Keep Holy the Sabbath, and not look for excuses to skip out on Holy Mass.
Father, keep us faithful to our Sunday obligation to go to Mass. May we find great blessings there, and invite others to experience those blessings as well. Amen.