"For many people, unfortunately, Sunday Mass has lost its meaning; they think it's enough if we are good and love each other."
At today’s general audience, Pope Francis reflected on the need to go to Mass on Sundays, and the need to rest on that day, abstaining from work and spending time with family and the community.
“Many people ask why we should celebrate the Eucharist on Sundays. We could answer by saying that right from the start the disciples celebrated that day because it’s when the Lord rose from the dead, and we received the gift of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
The pope’s words are particularly relevant this year, when December 24 falls on Sunday. In this context, it’s not surprising that he is calling for people to respect the Sunday rest, even at the peak of the Christmas shopping season, aggressively promoted by publicity and by the commercial tradition that is overshadowing the Christian, family-centered holiday.
Pope Francis, citing the example of the disciples, also invited Catholics to go to “Mass on Sunday to find the risen Lord, or—more accurately—to let Him find us.”
He highlighted the importance of listening to the Word of God and “feeding ourselves on the bread of life, in communion with the whole Church.”
For the Catholic Church, the Eucharist is a sacrament which celebrates and makes present the mystery of Jesus’ resurrection. It commemorates the Last Supper of his life, replacing the celebration of the Jewish Passover.
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Pope Francis insisted that Sunday should be a day of rest that reminds us that we are not slaves of work and of professional obligations.
“The celebration of the Sunday Eucharist gives meaning to the whole week, and also reminds us, as we rest from our occupations, that we are not slaves, but rather children of a Father who constantly invites us to put our hope in Him.”
He also exhorted his listeners not to lose the meaning of Sunday and of the Eucharist.
“For many people, unfortunately, Sunday Mass has lost its meaning; they think it’s enough if we are good and love each other. That’s necessary, but it’s not possible without the Lord’s help, without obtaining from Him the strength to do it,” he explained.
The Bishop of Rome pointed out that, in the Eucharist, the faithful receive from the Lord what they need most: “He gives us Himself as food, and encourages us to keep going.”
“The Mass is also the prefiguration of the eternal banquet to which we are called; the Sunday without sunset, when there will be no crying, no mourning, but rather joy and the happiness of always being together with Jesus.”
At the end, he greeted the pilgrims, and said, “Let us pray to the Lord for all the communities that cannot celebrate Mass each Sunday due to the lack of priests, or for other circumstances.”
Taking back Sundays for the sake of “holy leisure”
No shopping or housework on Sunday? Sign me up!