Being able to come before the Lord is indeed a gift. There is no other place of which I can think in which nothing is being asked of me. I can go there and be myself completely, unencumbered by fears, because everyone gathered is about the same thing: worship and prayer. We go to Mass to adore and praise God, and we go to put our cares on the altar so that He can be the one in charge of them. Nothing is expected of us. All is being given for us. That is, Jesus gave His life for us so that we might have His Body and Blood as our nourishment for the journey. He gave His all for us, and all I have to do is enter into His temple, so to speak, and receive His word and His presence. It was, and is, freely given for each one of us. It is a place where healing and mercy are present, and it is our home.
But it is also a privilege to have access to the house of the Lord. While it is freely given, it is something we are given not because it is our right, but because God wants us to have the grace we need in order to live in a difficult world with all the advantage we can have to fight off temptation and sin. Our world is a difficult place to live, let's be honest. There is evil and there is strife: there is sickness, poverty, injustice, inequality, war, famine, and every manner of suffering, both inflicted by others and by things beyond our control, too far beyond our ability to understand. There are many beautiful things in the world also, but because of our weakness and our tendency to sin we can attempt to horde those things, misuse them or simply take them for granted; we can misuse our power and treat others poorly. Therefore God offers us every advantage He can, that which we call grace, in order to help us to have power over temptation, to have reconciliation when we do sin, and many graces to help us to grow in sanctity so we may enter into Heaven one day.
To be given all the grace God gives us is not a right we have, but rather it is a privilege God has given out of love for us. He chose us, we did not choose Him. In John 15:16 Jesus said: "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give you." We were chosen and appointed, which means we have a responsibility to bring the Gospel to others. How? The next verse in the passage says: "For this I command you: love one another." (John 15:17) We are not sent out with empty hands. Rather, He gives us all the graces we need to do good works. We are given power from God to bring love to others. We are never alone in doing these works. Where we bring love, there Jesus is in the midst of it. (Matt. 18:20; 1 John 4:16)
Lord, we give you thanks that through the greatness of your love we have access to your house. We bow down before your holy temple filled with awe.
May we be filled with awe and wonder every time we enter into worship in God’s house! May we be inspired to realize the gifts and the privilege we have been given that we may serve the Lord as instruments of His love! May we be filled with gratitude for the gifts we have been given! May we have the faith to trust in His love and grace! And may we be filled with amazement at the love with which the Lord loves each of us! Let us continue to meet in the temple of the Lord, filled with awe! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
The photos are all mine. The first was taken in the town of Laigne-En-Belin, France. The second was taken of the towering arches inside Saint Julien Cathedral in Le Mans, France. Third is the famous rose window inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
Next is the work of Fr. William Hart McNichols, called The Galilean Jesus. It can be found at http://www.fatherbill.org/all-categories/product/293-the-galilean-jesus. If you are interested in obtaining a copy in card or plaque follow the links on the page.
The last photo is mine, as noted above, and was taken in the shrine church where the tomb of Bl. Basile Moreau is located in Le Mans, France. The window represents the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal.