The fish, at least fifteen large ones, mostly carp, and some, er, not carp (you see I’m an expert at this) like to gather together at mid morning at the sunny end of the pond and, well, they just hang out, shoot the breeze, chew the cud, or whatever. Anyway, whatever it is that they’re doing they do in a bunch (apart from the not-carp ones that is). One might say that they are enjoying themselves, just floating there together in the sun, although someone might say that it is anthropomorphising, imagining them to be human, to speak like this and that what they are really doing is…save that while it is certainly a little indulgently human to ascribe human emotions and motivation to non human creatures, it’s even more human to think that there is a single real meaning that trumps all the others. Anyway, the carp look happy to me and seem to like hanging out together.
which brings me to you and me, because being with each other is a crucial human activity; being together means that we are more than when we are apart, because where two or three are gathered together in my name….this is the point Jesus makes at his Ascension, which we celebrate this Thursday. He’s no longer going to be with us as a particular person at a particular place and time, no, now he is with and in all of us, especially when we gather in his name. That was what was so wrong about Lockdown and the times when so many were Shielding (remember them?). It was not that we didn’t have access to Jesus, he is with us always, but that we were distanced from each other and from the special unity the being his body in the world, that comes from the Eucharist. This is why the Bishops are calling us back, reminding us that, starting at Pentecost, we should want to share the Eucharist together each Sunday, or, to use some rather old fashioned words, we have a duty, an obligation.
Remember though, the call is to go to Sunday Mass, when we can. There is no obligation if we are too sick, or too far away, or on a journey, or any number of occasions when circumstances do not allow us. It is when we start choosing the circumstances in advance that we err, because by doing so we diminish ourselves and worse, we diminish each other. If even the carp in our pond have an inkling of this, surely we can?