Sunday morning, I stood in the choir loft looking down. I watched the Church fill to standing-room-only the way it does only on Easter and Christmas Eve. I found myself wondering if this isn’t the way God looks down on us: benignly, from a place of music, charmed by the jigsaw-puzzle pattern of the human family in its Sunday best.
If so, he probably doesn’t pay much attention to our faults, at least not the little ones that are hard to see from a distance but cause us so much bother.
Our pastor is not the fire-and-brimstone kind, but on Easter Sunday morning he walked as close to the pit as I have seen. From the ambo, he too looked benignly at his flock, but his insistent message warned us all of the dangers of dying outside the influence of the Sacraments.
He spoke of a friend he had been praying for during Lent, a friend who has fallen away. Then he spoke of a dying man he recently visited in the hospital. The man had pulled off his oxygen mask and told our pastor: “I want to thank God for my life and to ask him forgiveness for my sins.” Later in the homily, Father B. wondered whether his friend who had left the Church would ever have such a moment when his time came.
Within this simple train of thought was a lightly veiled warning: Don’t risk coming to the end of your life without such a moment of reconciliation! I did not take notes and don’t want to misrepresent our pastor’s homily more than I already have. Father B. left little doubt that Easter and Christmas do not a Catholic make.
Yesterday at 7am, the regular morning Mass crowd was back: 75-plus-or-minus good and broken souls who usually show up rain or shine, Christmas, Easter, or not. With my new choir-loft perspective I don’t think God looks down on these regulars with any bigger smile than he did on the Easter crowd. But I’m pretty sure he was smiling.