“We didn’t do it that way when we were kids.” “This isn’t the America I remember. It’s not like it used to be.” “The world is a different place these days. It’s changed.” “This isn’t the church I grew up in. I don’t know what happened to that church.” “Back in my day….” “This isn’t the life I planned and worked for.” You could add your own version. There’s a thousand variations on this theme. They all seem to me to have a common thread or question running through them. Here’s the question: What is going on in our world today? What’s happening?
Last week I was on the way home from running some errands. I stopped for the light at the square and a young man walked across the street in front of me. I recognized him as one of “the least of these.” I recognized him as the guy who came by my office just few days before. I recognized him as the same guy who had come by the office five or six times in the last week and a half. I recognized him as the one to whom I said, “I will not help you and you need to leave.”
What if, however, we thought of the Eucharist as larger and more expansive than what we do on Sunday mornings? What if every offering of our thanks was a moment of Eucharist? What if we fed on the bread of gratitude in every moment, with every person, and in every place?
There’s a part of me that just wants to scream, “Enough is enough! Make it stop. How much more can we take?” I am talking about Las Vegas, Maria, Irma, Harvey, Charlottesville, the ongoing wars and violence in the Middle East, terrorism, and the multiple genocides currently taking place in our world. I am talking…
O Lord of life, the God of our salvation, who bears our burdens: Our lives and world have once again been shaken by violence and gunfire; this time in Las Vegas. We are weary because of our groaning. Every night we flood our bed with tears and drench our couch with weeping. Our eyes waste away with grief. Our spirit shakes with terror. How long, O Lord, how long?
Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Richard knew a “secret, a very simple secret.” He knew and trusted that “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, chapter xxi)
That is the secret that sustains us through our losses and gives hope on this day. It is the secret that makes life beautiful, relationships meaningful, and conversations extraordinary. It is the secret that lifts us up to see further and cleanses our eyes to see more clearly. It is the secret all our sacred scriptures try to teach us. It is a secret open to everyone and hidden from no one, but only those with eyes to see will understand it.