Once there was a rich man who fell in love with a maiden, who was beautiful in form and more beautiful still in character. The sight of her brought him much joy but also much grief, for unlike the maiden he was ugly outwardly and even more unsightly within.
Being so repulsive, he knew he would never win her heart so he struck upon a plan. He approached a mask-maker and requested a mask that would make him appear handsome to the beautiful maiden. The mask-maker did as he was asked. The mask transformed the rich man into a handsome man. In love with the maiden, the masked man did his best to summon the character to match his new outward beauty. He asked the maiden to marry him and ten years of happiness ensued.
But the masked man knew he was carrying a secret. Every day it weighed on him more. He wanted to know if his wife loved him. What’s more, he knew marriage should not be founded on deceit.
One day, filled with fear over what his decision would bring, the husband returned to the mask-maker’s door and made yet another request: this time to the remove the mask.
The mask-maker did as he was asked and the husband returned home fearful.
To his surprise, when his wife saw his unmasked face she showed no reaction whatsoever. No shock. No revulsion. No disgust.
Not understanding, the husband grabbed a mirror and looked only to discover that his face was handsome, not at all like he had once been.
He returned a third time to the mask-maker, looking for an explanation.
The mask-maker told him: you’ve changed.
You’ve loved a beautiful person and become beautiful too by loving her.
You’ve become like the one you’ve loved.
For Augustine, worship is the most important thing we do as Christians because it’s in worship that we adore God and through worship that we become more like the One we adore.
Thomas Aquinas always pointed out Paul’s teaching that when we pray it’s not something we do. We can’t comprehend God.
No, when we pray and worship it’s God the Holy Spirit do so in and through us.
We become what we love, what is loved through us.
This stress is woven into the very terms we use.
The word ‘worship’ is a combination of the words ‘worthy’ and ‘-ship.’ Worship is the practice of attributing ‘worthyship’ whereby we become more worthy.
The word ‘service’ that we use today to refer to the Sunday liturgy comes from the word ‘Gottesdienst’ meaning ‘God’s service to us and our service to God.’
Worship doesn’t name something we do.