If you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift. (Mt 5:23-24)
Worship is not an isolated event.
Many people, sadly, think that all they need to do is “go to Mass” in order to right all their wrongs. If they are cruel to other people, if they’ve defrauded others, if they’ve gossiped and destroyed the reputation of others, well, all of that is magically erased because they attended Mass.
Bzzzz. Wrong answer.
I remember the poem taught to us in the third grade by one of the nuns: “Faithful Freddy thought that he would go to heaven for going to church on Sunday. But, Faithful Freddy went to hell for what he did on Monday.”
Attendance at Mass is not a magic eraser.
Attendance at Mass should be reinforcing what we do “in the world”. We struggle to be good people. Mass fuels us and gives us the grace to be even better. That is the proper use of attendance at Mass.
I am not the only one who thinks this way. Jesus did, too. That is why we heard in the Gospel today, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
I am not saying we should not go to Mass. I am just reminding us that we need to go to Mass in the right frame of mind and as a reconciled people, not just with God but with one another as well.
FAITH ACTION: Have you hurt someone? Does anyone hold something against you? Try to find a way to be reconciled with that person today.