What are the sounds you hear in church? Of course, there is the presider speaking, the lectors reading and the music. But what are some of the other sounds? A toddler wanting his sippy cup? A purse zipping? A lady with a cold? The water from the baptismal font? These are all sounds that we hear and make in church. These are the sounds of church, and we need them.
We need them because it is who we are. Do you ever feel like you have to bring your best self to Mass? Or maybe you don’t feel you are at your best, so you don’t even go? Maybe you have nothing fancy to wear, or you’ve just made too many mistakes that week. Or maybe you don’t think your children will behave. Whatever the reason, sometimes we place these high expectations on ourselves of being just right for church. Or maybe just going to God in prayer.
But that is not how Jesus feels. Jesus tells us to simply come. “Come, and you will see,” (John 1:39). Wear what you have, bring your mistakes, bring your loud children with sniffles, and come. We are who we are together! We stand as a community to profess our faith. None of us are doing it perfectly. When we gather together, we become the body of Christ. Think about that. Each of us has our own gifts and strengths, and together we form this body of Christ. We are all needed. You are needed.
In Mass, we see how we aren’t alone in our struggles. Have you listened, when you go up for communion, those repeated words? “Body of Christ…body of Christ…body of Christ.” That means us too. We receive Christ, and we become Christ. That’s pretty powerful. Eucharist isn’t a lollipop for the good but medicine for the sick. How reassuring that is! We can come in our unworthiness, as long as we come. We grow and are able to respond to God’s love in unfathomable ways when we gather as a people in the light of God. We might be surprised to see how God works in our lives when we come together in community as Christ’s body. No matter how we come.
When Jesus tells his disciples to come and see, what did they do? “So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, “ (John 1:39). They went! And when they went, they stayed. There was just something about Jesus that made them want more. That is what church can do for you. So don’t worry about being your best. Listen to those sounds in church and smile. Just be, and come. That’s all Jesus wants from us.
Kristine Rooney is Pastoral Associate for Adult Faith Enrichment and Evangelization, St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, Schenectady, NY