Late to the Lord’s Appointment (The Full Story)

Late to the Lord’s Appointment (The Full Story)

It was Sunday and we were all preparing to go to the Church but she was busy sleeping away. I tried to wake her up but she told me that she still wants more sleep having slept for 7 hours counting from the previous day.

Already, I have decided that nothing would make me to go to Church late whether on Sunday or on week days. This convinction was born out of inner thought that Church gatherings is spiritual and it’s like attending a spiritual appointment with the Lord.

On that fateful Sunday, we left her and proceeded to the Church on time; we were sitted five minutes before the time and trust our parish priests, they don’t joke with time, always 6am being 6am.

Now, it was homily time and she came late after the first, second reading and gospel. The first reading was from Exod.16:22-29, Second reading from Acts. 20: 6-10 and the gospel reading from John 20:18-16. And immediately she sat down like other late comers, the priest said, “if we really understand these readings, we shall never come late again for the mass.” With this, I turned and saw her looking at me with daze as if she was saying, “you told him?”

The Homily started and the priest began what I would call a deep, thought provoking and spiritual connection of the three readings. We are now at the feet of Jesus.

At first, the priest said that the first reading Exod 16; 22-29 is a reminder of where we journeyed from, while the second reading Acts 20: 6-10 and the gospel John 20:18-16 are a reminder of where we journeyed to; our destination with and in Christ Jesus. He said that the Old Testament was a preparation for the New Testament and that the New Testament completes the Old.

The priest explains that the Jews observe the seventh day(Saturday) as their Sabbath which is a holy day of obligation for them. But the coming of Jesus Christ brought about a paradigm shift from the seventh day to the eight day(Matt 28:1; John 20:26) which, was also referred to as the first day of the week(John 20:19).

By now, she was feeling as if she was told that she was still in the Old Testament, in Saturday, when we are already on Sunday, New Testament. So still feeling sleepy, she decided to sit up and knock of “the sleeping sickness.”

The priest continues:

“Sunday begins a new week and is the first day and from Sunday to Saturday is seven days which is Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath (Seventh day). Then counting chronologically, the next day following the seventh day is the eight day, which begins another new week. That eight day is Sunday. This is why John wrote that “AFTER THE SABBATH, and towards dawn on the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre”( John20:1). John was recounting Christ’s resurrection. So, Jesus rose on a Sunday and continuously appeared to the disciples and apostles on the same day.”

With this, I solved the puzzle of why Sunday was our special and holiday day and not Saturday which was the Jewish Sabbath. The answer was simple now: THE RESURECTION OF JESUS AND HIS CONTINUOUS APPEARANCE ON THIS VERY DAY. So, what I held by faith before I now also hold by knowledge. This is my faith which has found understanding. “This Church is too deep,” I said to myself.

She stood up boldly from her sit amidst the homily and walked towards me. I made a sign to her with my eyebrows for her to sit down because her transversing was already a distraction. However, I saw in her eyes the weariness of guilty and forthright repentance. As if I read her mind, I brought out a new white handkerchief from my pocket and as she sited beside me, she rested her head on my shoulder, took the handkerchief from me and wiped her tears.

When the priest continued, I found out that it never ended there:

“We see the disciples and apostles continuing what we the today’s disciples are doing. So, the Church is apostolic. Acts 20:7 portrays this when it says, “ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK we met for the breaking of bread”, and this shows that the disciples were now gathering for their faith and worship on this very day( I Cor 20:6), Sunday.”

“Moreover, this was with the assurance that Jesus is always present for He promised our forebears in faith that wherever one or two are gathered in His name, He is also there with them (Matt 18:20), and that while teaching His ways, He shall be with us till the end of time(28:20).”

From my shoulder, she looked up and said, “I have actually never known better. Ignorance can make one unrighteous. It means that our Lord is present and I have been coming late to the Lord’s appointment and assembly arrogantly with it-doesn’t-matter-syndrome. But, it actually matters. Forgive me Lord.”

Her head on my shoulder bespoke of one who needed consolation and I wished that the priest put some words of consolation in this beautiful and enlightening homily.

The priest continues:

“It’s this very worship that came down to us to this day. We share the faith of the apostles and disciples. We are Christians because of Jesus, and not because of what we think. Christians follow the ways of Jesus and not their idiosyncracies. It is the way of love. Love considers others.”

“This essentially means that every gathering of christians is like an appointment with Christ Jesus (as if the priest heard her word—appointment, I looked at her but she was closely attentive). Therefore, those who normally come late for mass are actually late to the Lord’s appointment and holy assembly. What appointment is greater than Jesus’ ? Why keep Jesus waiting?”

Providentially, the priest added, “the Lord is always ready to forgive if ever you repent and change your ways.”

With this, she hissed a sigh of relief as she was eyes turned red and subbing in tears with many others, like a prodigal daughter—herself has been revealed to her.

The homily continues:

“If you are going for a money sharing appointment, would you be late? If you are going for a serious job appointment, would you be late? Is money or job greater than Jesus? ”

To my surprise, she was just answering no to the rhetorical questions as if they were all directed to her.

The homily took a sharper dimension:

“Even in the same Lord’s appointment and assembly, you see people stealing, wearing indecent clothes(open breasts, hot mini, sagging trousers, etc) and yet they are in the Lord’s appointment and assembly. If we actually understand this, we shall always live in love; we shall put love in our dressing, and behaviors.”

In fact, after the homily, I concluded that the arrangements of the reading is due to the fact that every Sunday has a particular message it conveys to the people of God. It was as if Jesus was standing before us in a synagogue or temple as in the time of the Jews, breaking the word.

Therefore, I concluded that I will never step away from the Holy Mother Church.

After the heart touching, enlightening and spiritually uplifting homily, she raised her head from my comforting and supportive shoulders without minding the people around her, knelt down and started saying, “thank you Jesus; thank you my Lord.”

From that day on, she never came late to the Church and she does this by using Saturday to prepare physically and spiritually for Sunday Mass,with a prayerful intentions. She never fails to book mass till today. Her life changed and everyone now comes to her for counselling and words of advice. She is now a light to others. She graduated with first class (Summa Cum Lauda Probatus), and now travels from one continent to another both for business, counseling, etc.

Indeed, as Christians we are the light of the world.

Thanks so much for the priests from whose words many have found their ways back to God.

N:B-Free to share.

©Fr. Henrycharles Umelechi

Truth Series.

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