Childlike on Sundays

My almost-two-year-old loves Sunday Mass at our parish. He knows that in the gym, next to the main building, awaits his utopia of tricycles and other toys. As soon as we settle ourselves in the pew on Sunday, he is already making his way over. Unfortunately, that means either my husband or I are watching him in the gym, missing most parts of Mass. Often we leave church on Sundays wondering why we even bothered going in the first place. You might not have an energetic toddler to chase after, but if you are anything like me, you might also need a reminder why you go to church on Sundays.

You can read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church why we “must” fulfill our Sunday obligation to go to church, and there is something to be said about practicing spiritual discipline and obedience. I encourage you to read sections 2174-2188 in the CCC. However, those reasons aren’t always consoling. So, I wanted to focus on why it’s not only a good idea for us to go to church as good obedient Catholics, but especially as children of God.

In the Bible, especially in the gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus comments on the importance of becoming like children in order to enter heaven. “Truly I tell you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2). Then, in the next chapter he says that children must not be stopped from going to him! “Let the children come to heaven, and do not prevent them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mt 19: 14). Not only does Jesus holds children in the highest regard, but he says that if we want heaven we must become like them.

It’s important to point out that there is a difference between being childlike and childish. When my son Joseph throws a tantrum, runs up and down the aisles, or needs a break in the gym – he is being childish. But when Joseph wants to hold our hand, needs our help, or asks questions – I believe this is the childlike nature God wants us to adopt. Being childlike with our Heavenly Father means asking for His help when going to Mass seems really hard, being comforted by His word in times of trouble, or asking questions when fulfilling my Christian duty doesn’t make sense.

There are some very excellent reasons for going to Mass on Sunday that deal with discipline, obedience, and sacramental graces received from the Eucharist. Sometimes, in our hearts, those don’t make going to Mass any easier. But, if I take what Jesus says in the Bible seriously, and think of myself as a child of God, then it makes sense that I go to my Father’s house. It’s true, I won’t always leave Mass feeling rested and inspired, but I know that I was with him, spending time with him the best way that I could in the moment. On Sundays when I am in the gym watching my toddler running around, I know that God my Father sees me and knows that I came to spend time with him in his House.

by Mallory Brisson

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