Timeless Mercy

Mass. I participate in the celebration of Heaven touching earth every Sunday with all the angels and saints as we celebrate the Eucharist as one; One Church. But such an incredible celebration does not always receive the joyous celebration that it deserves. We get to be back at the Last Supper every single Mass with Jesus Himself. Giving His Body and Blood for us. If we truly realized this, we would DIE of JOY! But too often, we go through Mass almost mindlessly. Too often, we’ve forgotten the miracle that is happening on the altar.
I’m guilty of doing just that. Of taking for granted the literal MIRACLE of the Mass. And when we lose sight of what’s taking place right in front of our human eyes, God makes sure to remind us of what it’s all about.
This past Sunday (July 24th), I headed to the 5 o’clock Lifeteen Mass at my home parish like any other Sunday back home. I expected to see my normal parish priest, Fr. Wencil, to be celebrating Mass up on the altar as I am so used to. But this Sunday, though I came in expecting the normal, was anything but what I define as “normal.” The entrance song began and I see the altar servers proceed in, followed by the deacon and when I would normally find Fr. Wencil follow, a frail man was being pushed down the aisle in his wheel chair. Shocked by the change in priest, he began Mass. This priest was far past his “prime” but that wasn’t going to stop him. He was paralyzed on his entire right side of his body dues to a stroke he had in years past. He was retired due to his age and disability but here he was performing the celebration of Holy Communion for all of us.
Watching this frail old man act in persona Christi as he was wheeled up to the altar and spoke of mercy as the face of Christ crucified, it hit me. How he spoke of the mass as Jesus’ continuous giving of Himself every day; Calvary takes place on the altar and Jesus has chosen to endure Calvary over and over again simply because He loves us so stinkin’ much! On the white as snow altar, crimson blood is flowing out of Our Lord. My heart was coming to fully accept this reality after the Homily but it wasn’t until the Eucharistic Prayer that I saw what my heart had come to know.
The retired priest who had been helped around the altar all Mass in his wheelchair… He rose. The Church was dead silent because at that moment the entire congregation was witnessing a man hand all that he is to God. Nothing would stop him from celebrating Mass in its fullness. His great love for the Eucharist was so tangible, you could not ignore it even if you tried to.
My eyes were stunned by the sight they were beholding. Just that fact that he was standing, wow! But when it came time to change the bread and wine into the Body and the Blood, my heart was not ready for what was coming its way. The half paralyzed priest who had been holding himself up with his arms on the altar, he took his right hand, took the Host and raised the Body of Christ with one hand above his face as he consecrated the bread into the Body. In that moment, I wasn’t seeing a retired priest but Christ Himself- scourged, whipped, stripped- standing there upon the altar. He had already endured every pain imaginable for my sake, but He still gave of Himself, even when there seems to be nothing else to give. That instance, my heart was wrecked by Mercy. Gazing upon this priest brought me to the foot of the Cross, where I witnessed the most brutal murder but also the greatest act of love. Jesus didn’t need to give of Himself again and again but every Mass He stands beaten, bruised, broken and gives all that He has left for me. This love, so very real, is what He does for us every single second of every single day. My heart was transformed as I saw My Savior on the altar. Not only was I seeing Him, but He was gazing upon me too.
And what is one to do when Love sees them in their wholeness? Simply cry out of pure love, repentance, mercy. It was absolutely, without a doubt, the most beautiful moment in my life. Nothing else can compare.

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