Who would fail to understand the housewife who feels tied to her kitchen on a Sunday morning? Who would think of refusing some over-worked person their opportunity to sleep in? Who would not join in the happiness of a family that once a week uses Sunday to reunite at the breakfast table? Who would not understand the businessman or craftsman to whom Sunday’s quiet is a temptation to catch up with the work he had to neglect during the week?
Isn’t all that quite human, understandable, and virtually imposed on us by the character of our age? Only old-fashioned people and those who do not understand our world can seriously object to our claim that Sunday morning has its value even if we do not attend church. Thus there are so many reasons for not going to church. I would like to remind you of something: a minor fact that upsets everything. In all our reasoning, we have overlooked a basic fact.
Whatever reason you may give for your absence from church, you start with the presupposition that everyone is his own master and consequently can use Sunday as he or she likes. This, however, is a big mistake which an intelligent human being ought not to make. You are not your own master. The master of your life is God to whom you owe your life. You owe him thanks. You owe him obedience. You owe him an account of your life, and one day he will demand an account, even of your Sundays. That is why you cannot arrange your Sundays as it suits you: if you do, you are sinning against God’s order and commandment. You are not free to do with your Sundays as you like. God himself disposed of them by saying: “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy!”
I have yet another reason for saying you are not your own master. The master of your life is Jesus Christ. He came into the world to proclaim anew that God is master. He redeemed us from the powers that held us in bonds. He paid our debts by dying and shedding his blood on our behalf. If we trust in him, he grants us forgiveness of all our sins, God’s peace, eternal life and perfect happiness.
May I tell you why I go to church on Sunday? Not because I am pleased with everything there or because I find everybody there without reproach, but because our Lord Jesus Christ said to the people who gather in his name and spread his message: “He that hears you hears me, and he that rejects you rejects me” (Luke 10:16). It is Jesus Christ, present, united with all in the Eucharist who matters in our attending church. It is only because of him that there is a church. There he is to be adored, worshipped; there he speaks to us; there he is revealed to those who long for truth and salvation.
Every reason for not attending church is, therefore, basically an attempt to avoid Christ. He disturbs us and so we try to avoid him. Are you, too, afraid of coming into contact with Jesus? Believe me, your fear is nothing but fear of your own happiness, for with Jesus, happiness enters your life. There is nothing more beautiful than life with him. There is nothing greater than life for him.
Metropolitan Emilianos Timiadis