A few years ago, a friend of mine kept being woken up at 2.42 am each morning, according to the clock by his bed. He could never figure out why, until a friend of his suggested he look up Acts 2:42 in the Bible. What he found when he did so was the very verse quoted in our first reading this Sunday: “They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” This is a description of how the early Church community lived out their faith-life. The “breaking of bread” referred to the Eucharist, or Mass, and we are told further down in the same passage that the community “broke bread in various houses.” In other words, house masses were commonly the way in which the early Church celebrated the Eucharist. Which is why I love doing house masses, and enjoyed celebrating them in St Clare’s parish during the winter over these last two years.
My friend who kept being woken up at 2.42 each morning was obviously being directed by the Lord to go back to attending Mass on a regular basis. Because at the mass he was receiving teaching which stretched back to the days of the apostles, fellowship, i.e.the community life of the parish, and prayers, participating in the spiritual life of the parish community – as well as sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ, a participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
When we come to Mass, it is salutary to remind ourselves that we are partaking in something which has been going on since the very first days of the Christian Church, and in fact goes back to the example of Jesus Christ himself, when he took bread at the Last Supper and spoke over it “This is my body, which shall be given for you” and then took the cup of wine and spoke over it “This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which shall be poured out for you and for all , for the forgiveness of sins.” “Each time we break this bread, and drink this cup,” says St Paul in 1 Corinthians 11, “we proclaim his death until he comes again.” So the Eucharist, our Mass, is the way we remind ourselves of all that Jesus did for us, in dying for our sins and rising from the dead to bring us into new and eternal life. And we are exhorted to keep doing this, until the end of time, when Christ returns to bring all earthly life to an end and usher in the era of the kingdom of God in all its fullness.
To stay away from Mass, or to only attend on an infrequent basis, is to rob us of the very essence of our faith. This weekend and next, we are celebrating in our parish a high point of our community life together: the First Communion of over 30 of our young children. It is when we remind ourselves as a community of the importance of the Eucharist for us as Catholics, to strengthen us in our faith, to sustain us in our hope for eternal life, and to deepen our love for God and for the whole human race. If you find yourself being woken up at 2.42 am each morning, now you know why!!