9 June 2016
We’ve all experienced it: we’re going about our business and, suddenly, we remember something important. Maybe it’s something we forgot to do, or something we have to write down quick before we forget. Whatever it is, it interrupts what we were doing. And, more often than not, it’s something we needed to be reminded of; it is important.
According to Jesus, this is something that should happen even when we gather to worship God. God interrupts our worship of him! “If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brothers, and then come and offer your gift.” Jesus doesn’t say, “Reconcile before you come to the altar,” or “Just finish worshipping, and then go make things right."
No, Jesus says, “Leave your gift at the altar”—interrupt your worship so that your offering to me will be a heart of true charity and peace. Of course, we do this at every Mass during the Sign of Peace. For a short moment, our attention is distracted from God by our need to be at peace with others. Our worship of God is suspended for just a minute, so that our self-offering to God will be hearts which are more charitable and more at peace.
The worship of the Pharisees and scribes was missing that piece. They were mistaken to think they could worship God and hold a grudge against others at the same time. Love and disdain can’t coexist in the same person; at least, in a person who’s trying to worship God wholeheartedly.
And so, we make the most of the Sign of Peace at Mass. Even if we can’t be reconciled at that moment with others, we can at least let go of grudges in our heart. God gives us that moment of interruption so we can worship him more perfectly. And he interrupts us like that all the time; it’s called the voice of our conscience.
And so, whatever we’re doing, if we suddenly remember we need to make things right with someone, it’s God helping us to live more perfectly, more fully, more lovingly. When God interrupts what we’re doing, it’s important. And his interruptions are always geared toward doing what is right and just, and loving.