It’s not a good thing to leave the Family thanksgiving dinner early because it’s not just about eating good food, seeing the relatives once a year, and letting them see how fat you’ve become and how good you are looking. It’s about family, loving, and being loved even if they are not perfect. It’s about culture, hearing the old stories and the new ones and adding yours; it’s about recalling the past while the present surrounds you and the future draws nearby. It’s not good to leave until the dessert and coffee is over and maybe an after dinner drink because it’s not just about you, it’s about all of you as a family. So you stay until it’s over, and you say goodbye with hugs and kisses and leave with a rekindled understanding of what being part of this family means.
The Mass and Thanksgiving dinner have a lot in common, but the Mass is so much more. Because Mass is our celebration of the paschal mystery, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world. We gather as God’s family, the church, holy and imperfect, to hear again the story of how God has loved us and have been with us throughout history to this very day. In praying for the whole church and its needs, for the world at large, for those who suffer and those who die, we learn that we are to be mindful of them and to pray for them.
As we give up our thanks and praise for all God has done for us and given us, we come to recognize God’s richest gift to us, Jesus Christ, who feeds and gives us strength in the form of bread and wine, the body and blood he gave for the life of the world.
The Mass does not only celebrates our faith, it teaches us what we believe and how we are to live. That is why we cannot leave the Mass after communion. Because communion is not just for us and our salvation. It’s about the salvation of the whole world. As we celebrate and receive the Eucharist, “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection until you come again”. Who are we professing our faith to? It’s not just to ourselves but to the world. We become part of the story of how much God loves all people and is willing to let them know God through Christ.
If we leave Mass before the dismissal, we miss out on the celebration and being taught why we celebrate the Eucharist in the first place. We get fed and strengthened on the body and blood of Christ not only for ourselves but also for all those he sacrificed his life for.
We are dismissed from Mass not because it’s over, but because we have something to do. We are to go to the world to profess Christ. And so we stay to the end of Mass to be blessed and commissioned as the priest would always say “Go and announce the gospel of the Lord” or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”.