Monday, August 21, 2017

A Place of Peace

Yesterday in mass, an Asian woman sat behind me. She had a tattoo sleeve. Next to her sat her very white husband with their small children. Nearby sat a gay friend and a black family. As my gaze wandered around, I saw the world in our church; every skin color, gender, age, sexual orientation, race, political affiliation. The
differences were striking--young people wearing traditional church clothing, even a few women with chapel veils. There were also young people with clothing that looked as if they were at the beach, people with sundry piercings, people with large families, single people, the aged in wheelchairs and the babies making baby noises that echoed against the tall ceiling. There were the stooped over and handicapped, those with down syndrome and there were tall, strong and beautiful worshipers who looked like they should be on a magazine cover. 

What drew us here this morning to this unity, was that we all know we are sinners in need of the mercy of Christ. 

All those who came had given up something to be here whether it was a child's sports game, watching political talking heads on television, a game of golf or simply sleeping in and relaxing. Jesus was their priority. And they came.

The homily was difficult to hear because it was about the violence in Charlottesville so close to our own parish. The priest spoke about the sin of racism and hate that will tear our nation apart.

When the priest finished speaking, everyone in unison stood and prayed, next we knelt and prayed, afterward we sang: together, united.

Then a sacred hush fell across the church. There was no shuffling of clothing or feet, not a whisper or whimper from a child could be heard. Against this total silence, the parishioners' voices were lifted to the Cross of Christ:

Agnus Dei by Samuel Barber
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Have
mercy on us. 
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us.  
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Grant us peace. 

Those words reverberated tenderly across the church.

Grant us peace. 

I thought how wonderful it would be if the media could flash this exquisite scene of peace across the world. This peace between races, ethnic groups, gender, age, differing political groups. If only every eye and every ear could see what I was experiencing this morning.

Each soul then quietly went down the aisle to receive the Eucharist. I realized then that it will only be through the Body and Blood of Christ, His eternal sacrifice on the Cross that we will all receive His mercy and be reconciled--through Him, Christ.

And here, this morning, I got a taste of eternity. A blessed moment of real peace. And only through Him.