I don’t steal. I don’t cheat. I don’t kill. I don’t do bad things so, why do I need to go to church? I’m a good person!
First of all, let’s get something clear, you’re not supposed to do any of these things. These are all part of the natural moral law, “which is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man that is created by God.” (CCC 1954)
Every man whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or Atheist, knows these things are wrong, so these are no reasons not to go to church. The view of that “I’m good” is wholly subjective. It’s not up to us to measure our own holiness. If it were up to us, we can justify our sin based on our own conception of what is sin.
Did Jesus say we have to go to church? First, let’s look at where Jesus read the Old Testament from or where he taught from. Luke 4:14-15: “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.”
And elsewhere we read in John 6:59: “this he said in the synagogue, as he taught in Caperna-um.” There are many other passages where Jesus teaches in the synagogue, and we are to do as Jesus did, and he taught his disciples to do the same. The main reason we have to go to church is to hear the word of God and receive the Eucharist. It’s the only place to receive Jesus; nowhere else can the bread and wine be turned into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus says this explicitly seven times in a row in John 6:51-58, that it’s the way to eternal life.
For example, in John 6:54: “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.” So, if you don’t receive his body and blood as he says, then you have no eternal life in heaven, these are his words!
Next, it’s a command from God. The third commandment given to Moses by God is, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day” (Exodus 20:8).
It is also the commandment of Christ: “When the hour came, he [Jesus] took his place at the table with the apostles . . . Then he took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you. Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:14,19).
At mass, we receive many graces and with those graces we have the power to help avoid mortal sin because of the Holy Eucharist. It also gives us power to do many things in our lives, especially fight the temptations of the devil. If we come with an attitude of prayer and thanksgiving, the Lord will do great things for us and give us great spiritual riches: consolation, confidence, true peace, happiness and the strength for the challenges of everyday life. Jesus gave Himself for us on the cross and made Himself present for us in the Eucharist so that He may abide in us and us in Him (Jn 6:56), and if he abides in us, then we can do nothing but become holy and worthy of heaven.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, God gave us 168 hours in a week and all he asks for is one of those hours for him. Is that too much from God to ask? I don’t believe it is. So, the next time you say “I’m a good person why do I need to go to church?” Remember one thing; Jesus was a good man and He died for the Church!
May the Lord continue to bless you on this journey to heaven.
Jeff Kassab has a BA in Pastoral Theology and is a board member of ECRC.