As people begin to put up their kneelers and stand up, men and women pick up their belongings, collecting bags and jackets. They then go stand in line to receive Holy Communion and make an Irish exit, leaving before the Mass is finished.
Sure, but they've done the "important part", they've received communion. What's the big deal?
The Mass is about more than just hearing God's Word or just receiving the Eucharist. It is about celebrating with a community of believers; worshipping with our brothers and sisters. Our faith journey is supposed to be personal and communal. Leaving before the Mass is done is depriving yourself of an important part of our faith and the Mass; our community. You aren't supposed to just come for the food, you also come for the company.
Early Christians made their Sunday worship a true celebration. The Eucharist was more than just a wafer and a sip of wine, they shared an entire meal. Worship was a day-long event. They lived in communion with one another, working and living side by side. While we may not live in an intimate community of like-minded Christians, we can surround ourselves with people who believe and worship as we do and it starts by not coming for the food.
Make an effort this Sunday to connect with the people around you. Offer a sincere greeting, a true sign of peace. Hold hands with the strangers next to you as your community prays the Our Father. Thank your priest for his time this morning. Pray for those around you as you celebrate the Mass. And stay until the Mass has ended, and then go in peace.