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How Authentic Is Our Worship?

A survey published in 2023 by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate showed that as many as 94% of self-identified Nigerian Catholics surveyed said they attend weekly or daily Mass. This makes Nigeria the country with the highest number of Catholics attending Mass regularly.

I was grateful to God for this report for many reasons. Despite all the violence against Christians in Nigeria, the many times that worshippers at Mass have been slaughtered by Islamic terrorists, the many burned churches and rectories, and the many Catholic priests who have been kidnapped and killed while the mainstream media remains mute, the faithful still hold on tenaciously to their Catholic faith.

But the report also raised some questions in my mind. If so many Catholics attend Mass frequently, why is the country still plagued with so much corruption, fraud, and injustice? How can one reconcile the fact that the country with the highest attendance at Mass in the world is also the country with one of the highest corruption indices in the world? It appears that the high attendance at Mass has little or no impact on the society. What then is lacking in our worship?

Biblical scholars tell us that thousands of pilgrims passed through the Jerusalem temple on any given Passover celebration. Jesus must have noticed the great throng of pilgrims at the temple. But Jesus is not into statistics. For instance, He is the only shepherd who would leave ninety-nine sheep and go in search of the lost sheep. He is not concerned with surveys about worship attendance but about the quality of the worship.

He found that the temple had become a place of material gain where money and animals changed hands freely and where awe and reverence towards God were absent. He cleansed the temple of the few who were involved in such distracting trade in the temple because they were hindering others from the true worship of His Father, “Take these out of here and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”

Jesus also pointed to His body as the new temple, the place of perfect worship here on earth, “’Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up’…He was speaking of the temple of His body.” Through this same body of Jesus, we are to share in His own worship of the Father, the same worship of the Father that led Him to obey His Father, “even unto death on the cross.”(Phil 2:8)

Thus, authentic worship here on earth is found first of all in our communion with the body of the crucified Christ. This communion is achieved in and through the Eucharist. Through our communion with the crucified and risen Christ in the Eucharist, we can enter into Christ’s own worship. Because Jesus Christ “understood human nature very well,”(Jn 2:25), He knew how we could seek only our own gain while pretending to worship Him. Thus, He wisely and lovingly gave us Himself through the Real Presence of the Eucharist.

Read more at Catholic Exchange 

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