After the four Psalms of the King in Psalms 96-99 (see the reflection of November 24 on this), it seems almost natural that Psalm 100, which is featured in today's mass, is a praise-filled response to the goodness of the King, our God.
This psalm is a short hymn sung as the people of Israel would solemnly enter the Temple in Jerusalem, the centre of their faith and the joy of their hearts. They do not enter in quiet and trembling, but in joy and praise and song.
The thought of that is certainly a different contrast to our reaction when we enter a church. I remember at an early age being taught by my parents the ritual when entering the church. We were taught to enter quietly. The boys and men would immediately remove their hats. We looked for the holy water font to bless ourselves. And we then genuflected towards the tabernacle before we took our place in the pews.
Which way is right - the ancient Jewish way that the Jewish people entered the Temple area, or the way we were taught to enter a church? Rather than answering that question, consider this - the most important thing is the attitude with which we do so. Are we mindful that this is God's house, and what a privilege it is to be there? Are we mindful of the presence of God in the tabernacle, as were the Jewish people mindful of God's presence in the Temple in the Holy of Holies? If we were there for mass, were we ready to fully and actively participate? For doing so will bring honour to God and blessings to ourselves.
Sadly, with all the restrictions on the churches at this time, our opportunities to enter God's house are severely limited. Maybe a silver lining in these closures is a resurgence of respect and joy when we are able once again to freely enter the house of God.
On a different note, please stay tuned for my Parish Advent report which will be posted on the website later today.