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Faith is not a "Spectator Sport"

During this brief period before Lent begins, our Gospel readings relate that Jesus chooses his Apostles, beginning his work of curing the sick, lame, blind, and deaf, and teaching the crowds that result from the word spreading about this “Miracle Worker.” We can get the idea from these readings that the Apostles and disciples are the ones who are commissioned by Jesus to help in this ministry. We think that all that the rest of us have to do is listen and learn, to sit at Jesus’ feet. Our culture can also reinforce this passive attitude if we allow it. We watch football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, volleyball, and even golf on TV or in person. These sports are often even called spectator sports. This is because although we may play these sports as children or even young adults, all of us we eventually become mere spectators at some point, no longer playing but now merely watching and commenting on them. We might root for our teams and even place bets, but we don’t do much beyond watching. Simply cheering them on is not action.

But our faith is NOT a spectator sport. From the very beginning of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus is reminding us to “Get in the game!” Jesus is calling those who will spread his “Good News” to all the world. We cannot sit by and let the Apostles do all the hard work. No, we must get in the game. We must join with all our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ and spread his message of love, forgiveness, and mercy. We don’t come to Mass or gather to pray to be ENTERTAINED. Mass is not a spectator sport, it is a job!

"But our faith is NOT a spectator sport. From the very beginning of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus is reminding us to “Get in the game!”"

The Second Vatican Council is aware of this as well. In the Constitution on the Divine Liturgy it is written that our prayer, our Eucharist, is “the work of the people”, in Latin leitorgia. This means when we gather together for prayer we have a job! We are to join in the prayer to the best of our ability, joining in the singing, linking our hearts to God by the words we say and hear. When we do this we are accomplishing the ‘leitorgia’, we are doing our job. When we receive Holy Communion we are given the strength to go out into our world and spread this “Good News” to everyone we meet.

This week, as we come to Communion let us ask for the strength to pray:

Dear Jesus, thank you for the gift of another day.

Help me to see your presence in every person I meet this day.

Jesus, help me to know and feel your love and presence in my heart.

In this way we will be doing the work with which Jesus charged his Apostles. We will doing our job as members of the Body of Christ. We will not be looking to be entertained, but rather we will be accepting our commissioning to “Go Forth, and spread the Gospel of the Lord!”

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Dcn. Dan Leetch

Director of Pastoral Services

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1 Comment

Unknown member
Feb 01, 2023

This article was on target for the Cathedral parish! I have yearned for a long time that everyone at Mass would participate. This is the starting point for evangelization! Yet, so many people right around me at Mass don't bother to open their mouths for the entire liturgy. I feel like I am speaking and singing in a vacuum where I am standing. I pray to God to lift us out of our lethargy. And thanks to those few who do say the responses and sing the hymns at Mass so we can join in prayer from our hearts.

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