As you listen to this Sunday’s Gospel, consider that, if Jesus held us to a strict, literal interpretation of the Scriptures, most of us would be eyeless and lacking all our limbs. Blessed be our merciful God. Nonetheless, this weekend is a good time to consider how you reflect your parish and the church at large.
Last evening, I had a dream. I was attending Mass at “St. Anywhere” on a typical Sunday. We had just reached the “Holy, Holy” (Sanctus), which was introduced in a fairly lackluster manner by the presider, only to be picked up by the assembly in an equally mumbled tone. The recitation was accompanied by one person gazing at his watch every other stanza, another swishing her fingers through her hair, another looking around with a bored expression and another with crossed arms, tight lips and cold stare. Luckily, I awoke from my dream, thankful that this never happens in any of our parishes. After all, if this is how God’s people are singing their praise, we are in big trouble.
St. Teresa of Avila said, “From somber, serious, sullen saints, save us, O Lord.” If someone observed you at liturgy would they see someone engaged in “full, active, and conscious participation,” someone filled with joy because of their life within the Communion of Saints? Do you attend Mass in joyful gratitude, or as an “obligation?”
What do your face, speech and actions tell the world about your life as a Catholic? Have you assumed an evangelizing demeanor? How do you carry the life and challenge of the liturgy into your daily life? I hope that we all try to avoid the big and obvious wrong things, but do we pay attention to doing the little, often taken for granted, right things?
On my car, I display one of our parish bumper stickers. It’s a great method for evangelizing and making people aware of my parish, except when I am speeding, cut into a parking space in front of someone or honk impatiently at a stop sign.
Another area filled with opportunity for Christian witness is the grocery checkout line. Do you become impatient waiting for the customer in front of you who needs price checks for three different items? What about the person who painstakingly counts out their money? Do you look with judgment at the items that will be purchased by someone using food stamps? Have you ever offered a prayer for the person in front of you in a line? Do you speak words that are kind, affirming, truthful and faithful to all people, even those who hurt or insult you?
What good works will you do this week? I recall a quote from many years back: “If you were to be tried as a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
This Sunday, the Lord will again give us a merciful reprieve and we will be able to return home not having been required to sever a limb or gouge out an eye. Actually, Jesus will ask something of us that is even more difficult: to live as people of the Eucharist.
Remember, God is watching you … and so is everyone else!
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.