When the COVID pandemic struck, I joined other bishops in deciding for a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.
Now that the pandemic seems to be receding, it is good for us to reflect not only upon the Sunday obligation but upon the meaning of Sunday itself.
To call the first day of the week Sunday recalls the Roman name, but from the first Christians always called it the Lord’s Day, in honour of the Risen Christ who is the true light of the world and the source of life.
The Lord’s Day was the weekly Easter and the weekly Pentecost, because on the first day Jesus Christ rose from the dead and breathed the Holy Spirit into the Church.
It was the day that looked back to the first day of creation and forward to the last day of the Lord’s return in glory.
Even in times of persecution, Christians remained faithful unto death to the assembly of the Lord’s Day.
The spontaneous practice of the early days eventually became Church law. Yet it is not law that draws us to Mass but the Lord’s desire to eat the Passover with us (cf Luke 22:15).
The deepest reason we go to Mass on Sunday is not because we have decided or because the Church’s requires it but because we are drawn there by his desire for us. In coming to Mass, we surrender to the Lord’s love and let ourselves be drawn by him who wants to speak to our heart and share his feast with us.
Therefore, in the Archdiocese of Brisbane from Pentecost Sunday of this year (28 May) the pandemic dispensation will be withdrawn and the Sunday obligation will be restored, so that all of us, responding to the Risen Lord’s call, may say with one heart and voice, “This is the day which the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 118:24).