Thursday, March 24, 2016

I'm not ready.

It's the end of Lent.  Today marks the start of the Holy Triduum.  At the Catholic Mass we relive these events that led up to the crucifixion of Christ so that we remember them always.  Tonight is the night that we spend with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, trying to stay awake as we pray with him.  It's also the night where we gather together in the Sanctuary and we watch as our Priest takes off his robes down to just his alb and begins to wash the feet of parishioners from all walks of life, both male and female. There is so much richness, so much treasure, so many pearls of great price to be learned from watching these events unfold before us and hearing the accompanying scriptures pronounced and sung.

It takes me back to my first Easter as a Catholic.  There I was trying to stay awake in the Garden.  I watched as many others walked out within just a few minutes of placing Christ in repose for adoration.  I had uncharitable thoughts.  "What you don't have time to spend more than a minute with Christ?"  "Why are you leaving so soon?" "Lord why can't they stay awake."  It was almost as if I were the Pharisee standing in the temple saying "Thank God I am not like this sinner."  Then the Eucharist caught my attention.  It was as if the Lord was speaking directly to me. "Can you not stay awake with me one hour?" My Lord reminded me that it was not they who were asleep.. but me... I was watching everyone else, but not watching Christ in the Eucharist.. not spending time in prayer with him.  I'll never forget that humbling lesson.

That's part of what is so amazing about being Catholic.  We don't just have a personal relationship with Christ, though we have that.   We also have a communal relationship with him, and better yet, we have a tangible, tactile relationship with him as well.  We believe that when the Priest says the words of consecration, the words that Christ himself gave us, that bread is transformed... that wine is changed... it's not just bread and wine anymore, it's substance has changed.  It is truly the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord and savior.  Think of that for a minute!  He not only comes down to see us, to be with us, to remind us of his presence in a substantial way; but he also allows us to receive him into our bodies to change us.. to mold us.. to bring us into that divine life that he promised.  We don't have to wait for the time after time itself ends for us, but we can experience Heaven right here and right now.

The book of Revelation used to scare me.   I used to spend hour after hour trying to pick out the right people in the news, the right signs, the right 'end of time' events... I was consumed with trying to find out when Armageddon was coming.  Then I read a book called The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn.  That book promoted an idea that was not new, one that the early church fathers held as well, that the book of Revelation was a vision of Heavenly worship.. Oh my how that changed my view of the Church and the Eucharist.. I began to see the flaming lamp stands around the altar, the Priest standing in persona Christi, the angels and saints gathering around and offering their prayers up as incense.. the prayers of the saints on earth... Oh yes, I began to see that God truly was present.. that Revelation was a glimpse of Heaven kissing earth.. A glimpse of the Holy Mass.

So tonight, tomorrow, Sunday... whatever Mass you are attending.. and not just during Easter, but for the rest of your lives.. Lift up your eyes to the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar and say with Peter, "“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”  That's what this is all about.. about the Eucharist.. about Christ himself... about His perpetual sacrifice, his todah to bring us into communion with the Father again.. to bring us into a communion with God that is so amazingly beautiful, but so challenging that in John chapter 6 we see many of his disciples stop following him when offered it.  This is not easy.. Are you ready? To sit with him in the garden?  To walk with him towards Calvary?  To pick up your own cross and head to your own Easter?   Not alone I am not.  I am not ready Lord.. but thanks be to Adonai that he has sent his only son to me in the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic church to help me have to grace to take one step in front of another.

Lord give me the grace to strip myself of all my outer coverings and walls, to expose myself to those who need their feet washed.. the widow, the orphan, the alien... may I be given supernatural humility to put myself to the side and provide for what they need.  May I be a servant leader like you... you who are so humble that you will come down as the most defenseless thing ever.. a piece of bread.. to provide me with everything I need, both physically and spiritually.. May I too pour myself out, may I place myself in the hands of those who are hurting and be a sacrament of your love for them as well.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."