What It Means to Celebrate
Friday, August 4, 2023
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for 17th Friday of Ordinary Time (A1): https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings LECTIONARY 405 (Lv 23: 1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37; Ps 81: 3-4, 5-6, 10-11;Mt 13: 54-58), The Responsorial (Psalm 81) invites us to celebrate what God is to us: “Sing with joy to God our help.” Leviticus 23: 1-37 lists “the festivals of the Lord which you shall celebrate at their proper time….” Why does God command us to celebrate special days together? To “celebrate” is to “single out for grateful remembrance.” God knows that if we do not celebrate the great events that revealed his love to us, we will gradually forget all about them. And if we forget the events our relationship is founded on, soon we will not understand the relationship itself, much less appreciate it. That is a reason for the Anamnesis in the Eucharistic Prayer.[i] The same is true for the interactions that characterize our relationship. If we do not explicitly celebrate different aspects of our relationship with God by observances and ceremonies that declare what we are to God and he to us, pretty soon we forget what we are committed to doing for God and he for us. The key to celebration is expression. We express meaning in words and symbols. We express appreciation by showing enthusiasm. We express joy by singing, clapping and dancing. To give these expressions is to minister to ourselves and others by letting the invisible reality of our faith, hope and love, our inner experience of God’s reality to us and of his action on our lives, become visible. By making the invisible visible, we make it more real to ourselves and others. We build up each other’s awareness of the truth of God, of his existence, his action, his grace. When we “sing with joy to God our help” we are fulfilling a basic, and an important, Christian duty, one to which our baptismal consecration as priests commits and consecrates us. We are “building up the Church,” supporting and enhancing the life of God in each other, by making the invisible visible in our self-expression. This is ministry. Our baptismal consecration as priests commits us to it.[ii] In Matthew 13: 54-58 the people of Jesus’ home town failed to appreciate him. He grew up with them, and all they saw in him was “the carpenter’s son.” They took him for granted. As a result, “he did not work many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” This happens to us when we “grow up with” our faith and just take it for granted. If we don’t really celebrate it, “singling out for grateful remembrance” what is so special about our religion and our relationship with God, we simply don’t experience the gift that Christianity is. If we just “attend” Mass we deaden the experience of Mass for ourselves and others. But if we sing, make the responses with enthusiasm, and participate “fully, actively, and consciously” in an attentive and personal way, this is a ministry that gives life to ourselves and others. To appreciate God, “Sing to God with joy.”
Initiative: Be a priest: Express with enthusiasm your faith, hope and love.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry