Palm Sunday mass at 4pm on Saturday was where I was at, as usual. However, Fr. Pat had asked me to take photos of the church during Lent and I have done a little of that during the 4pm mass. Given that I had the time, I thought I would return to the 11am mass on Sunday and just be there to take photos.
Today I saw Christ all over the Catholic Community of St. Edward the Confessor. It was remarkable. Anyone who thinks that our large suburban parishes are not diverse should come by one day. Yes, we are primarily white and middle and upper middle class; it is Clifton Park. That said – we are diverse in ways I had not always given thought to. Until today, that is.
Christ was in the throngs of people that poured in for this liturgy. Christ was present in the very young and the very old, the very well dressed and proper and those who might have been less so. Christ was present in friends that I had not seen in a long time and present in people that I had never seen before. Christ was very readily apparent in the enormous group of kids that gathered to head off to Children’s Liturgy of the Word.
Christ was present in the combined choirs whose voices rang out with such clarity and grace, filling the entire sanctuary with amazing talent, shared so freely. At one point I, can’t even remember exactly when, I could hear Mary Jo playing the piano and it went straight to my heart; so beautiful and redolent with the presence of God.
Among the most moving visions of Christ that I experienced, were the numerous people who were in wheelchairs. Some were young, some were old, some were in the middle. Some were in ordinary wheelchairs and some were in very sophisticated ones that met their unique needs. There were also many people with canes and mostly elderly people with walkers.
And Christ was very present in the number of developmentally disabled people who were present, of all ages. Our altar server, Donny, is the most reverent server that I know – he was there. And so many others, along with him. The most touching thing I saw, Christ embodied, was the young boy with Down Syndrome, leaning against his dad’s shoulder, his dad had one arm around him and had his other arm around his front. He was Christ before me, rubbing his son’s hand in soft, gentle and rhythmic motion.
What about the rest of us, the ones who looked OK? Well we too are as wounded, we wear our wounds on the inside and Christ was present and around all of us and in us today. That is always the case, today the church was like a thin place; liminal space where we encounter God.
Fr. Pat’s homily hit upon all these things as he spoke to us about silence, suffering and service; the places where we meet Jesus. We need silence in order to hear God; we suffer and we are one with Christ if we surrender and allow it. Ultimately we meet Christ and we are Christ in and through service of all sorts.
Today Christ was clearly present at our parish and I am most grateful to have been there to meet him, in all these different ways.