Recently, I went to a Sunday night baseball game to cheer on my beloved Washington Nationals. When the Nats play on Sundays, the local parish offers an extra Mass for baseball fans coming to the game, affectionately called #NatsMass. Not only is it the perfect way to attend Mass right before the game – still making it to the park in time for opening pitch – but the Nats also have a pretty stellar winning record on #NatsMass Sundays, which I think we can all agree is clearly not a coincidence.
— Fr. Drew Royals (@DrewRoyals) July 6, 2015
This particular Sunday, it just so happened that the Gospel reading and homily were very appropriate for attending Mass in a small parish in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a major city with major game day traffic.
In the Gospel, Mark tells of Jesus coming to His hometown to teach in the synagogue, and the not-so-warm welcome He receives. Jesus was in the world where He grew up, but the people refused to listen to and believe Him.
The priest talked about how Jesus was not afraid to go out into the world to spread the good news, even to His hometown. Christ did not water down the truth for anyone, even His own people. His kingdom was not of this world, but yet He still walked and lived in this world, even if that world did not accept Him.
Throughout the entire Mass, the noise of the world heading to the baseball game permeated through the church doors. Cars honking, sirens blaring, whistles blowing, people yelling. The world outside this quiet little parish delivered a constant stream of noise; a world that was completely oblivious to the miracle of the Mass that was happening right in its midst.
I couldn’t help but take the reading and homily to heart as the noise continued to stream into the church. We live in a world that refuses to listen to Christ, and refuses to believe in Him – even when He is right in their midst.
The parish sitting in the middle of the busy-ness of the city is a metaphor for Jesus teaching in His own hometown. How many people notice this stone church as they walk or drive past on their way to the game; how many stop to think about the presence of Christ in the tabernacle within their reach? I’m sure that the answer is “very few”, and of those few that do notice the church on the corner, even fewer actually soak up what it means to live in this world as followers of Christ. It is so easy to get lost in the noise of this world, and so easy to miss the presence of Christ right in front of us.
There is a lot of noise that surrounds us as Christians. We are not called to live in a Christian bubble; we are called to live in this world, as noisy as it may be. Even more, like Christ, we are called to preach the Gospel and speak the Truth, even if we are ignored or shunned.
As the Host was raised during the Consecration, the noise outside continued to pour in and I thought to myself, “All of those people outside don’t realize what they are missing out on in here.” And so, this is our mission as Catholics – to help bring Christ to all those who live in that noisy world outside.