Imagine you are standing at the front door of your parish church at one of the weekend Masses. You notice the people streaming towards the church: young and old, rich and poor, sick and healthy, women and men. Some may be highly educated, and others have no formal education. Some are married, some are living together, and some are single, or single parents struggling to raise a family on their own. There are people who are happy, or lonely, or bereaved. People who just found love and people whose hearts are broken. Sadly, there are people experiencing abuse or addiction.
All of these people are coming to your parish church: a sacred place, a place of worship, God’s home. They are coming for a variety of reasons—some because of deep faith, others out of obligation, and others seeking peace and consolation or some kind of connection with God and a community.
Given all the people and their reasons for showing up, Sunday is most evangelizing day of the week and it matters in five important ways:
1. Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and the source of the Church’s identity and spirituality. As Catholics, we cannot live without Sunday Eucharist. It needs to be celebrated well. There is power in the symbols, gestures, actions, and words of the liturgy. This power needs to be unleashed for the purpose of moving our hearts and deepening our commitment as Christ’s disciples in the world. Our discipleship is sustained by doing Eucharist, Sunday after Sunday.
2. The Mass is where we have a saving encounter with Christ. The liturgy doesn’t celebrate a past event, but rather a present person, Jesus Christ, who is “God from God, Light from Light, true God from God.” Sunday is the day the Lord has made, the day we break open God’s Word and are nourished by the real presence of his body and blood.
3. Sunday is the day to be Church. Sunday is the day when the people gather in the largest numbers. It is the most important event in the life of the Church and the parish. The celebration of liturgy cultivates a sense of belonging, communion, and solidarity.4. Sunday is the day to be a parish. Sunday is the day when parishes welcome all. Parish offices need to be open, and parish ministers need to be visible and available. Faith-formation events and parish activities should be scheduled on Sundays. Sunday is the day of the Church, the day for the Church, and the day to be Church!
5. Sunday makes disciples and sends disciples. Every Sunday we are dismissed with “Go”: Go forth the Mass is ended; Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord; Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life. And, we go forth as beloved disciples of Jesus and servants of the Gospel, bringing the Good News to all the people in our lives, and, as Pope Francis reminds us, to the people on the periphery, those who are poor or marginalized. All are welcome!
At the end of Mass, when people go to their own homes, will their needs have been met? Will their lives have been enriched and their faith strengthened? Will they experience God sending them forth to do his work in their homes, communities, and world? If so, then it is because Sunday matters.