- Hebrews 4:1-5, 11
- Mark 2:1-12
In the Douay, the RSV, or the NABRE with other Mass texts.
And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the palsied man, Son, thy sins are forgiven.
Mark 2:5 (Knox)
We do like to think that “our communion time” is for us. I’m here, God: fix me – or fix this thing that’s wrong in my life, or whatnot. But: It’s not like that at all. Mass, the Divine Liturgy, the Holy Eucharist, is a ripping apart of space and time. We stand at one moment before Golgotha, and before the Heavenly Throne, we are at the Parousia and the Harrowing of Hell. All the Altars of God’s Church are but one Altar. All the priests but one Priest. There is only one Offering and perfect Oblation for the sins of the whole world. We are participating in the healing of all things, the Tikkun Olam, as the Jews say. The elevation of the Consecrated Elements (East or West) is that very moment in all of eternity breaking in on all of temporality. We are not there for “me time” (if any are, they’re doing it wrong). This is God’s Eternity. We are there to become the vessels of that Eternity in the world of time and space. It’s not me time: for we stand there with every Christian who ever has, or ever will stand there before God, and with all God’s Children from all times and all spaces.
We all struggle. That’s why Philo says to be kind. All sins are equally sin… But sometime you find you’ve built a life out of one, you’ve decided it’s who you are, and you may feel you need some extra help. It can be so all-engrossing, this false sense of self, that you – the real you – might feel paralyzed. You need your friends to bring you and drop you through the roof at Church: cuz you’re not going to get there by yourself. This through the roof thing is one of my favorite passages. It’s the sign that we are not saved alone: rather we are saved in community.
I was reminded of all this earlier this week, discussing with a friend my involvement with Courage, the Catholic Apostolate ministering to people who, experiencing sexual attraction to members of their own sex, desire to live according to the traditional Christian teaching on sexuality. I was given a blessing by my Spiritual Father to attend Courage meetings back in 2013. I knew it was a ministry which I would find helpful in my struggles. I met with a Fr S, one of the chaplains, and he invited me to attend, but I just never made it to the weekly gathering. I would find myself drifting of to sleep very early on the night of the meeting, just as my calendar alarm was going off. Next week, I would say. Then came the layoff a year ago (a year ago yesterday, actually), and then my six months trying to be a monastic, and my job search. Out of the blue, “coincidentally” as a materialist might say, Fr S emailed me for the first time in three years on the weekend I “happened” to be in SF for interviews last September. Sometimes God has to slug me upside the head for me to get the point. I was at the first meeting the week I moved back. I’ve been going since.
When we kneel at Mass, or stand at Liturgy, when we are in awe before the Physical, Eucharistic, Living and True presence of the Lord who made all the times and all the spaces that have ever been, there in that Host, there in that Chalice, we can make it “All about me” or we can decide – coining a phrase – to make me all about Thee. To make my life a sacrifice, a prayer.
We never know. We never know when we will be able to bring someone to Jesus, but we can do so at every turn. Leaving St Dominic’s once, I saw all the Friars and Novices gathered in adoration before the Heart on fire with love for the world. Who were they bringing through the roof at that very moment? Fr S, praying right along, dropped me through the roof when the time was right. When you stand at Liturgy, or kneel at Mass, whom do you bring? When you go out, where do you take God?