Today’s mass was extra special! Four members of our book club joined a fifth one, Kelly, who lives in Bradenton, FL., while seven members met at Lisa’s house and we SKYPED our book club! We read Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. It was perfect to think about this book, in which Ben Carson believes we have an obligation to use our gifts from God to serve others, while I went to mass with Liz and Kelly at Our Lady of the Angels! The pastor was fabulous!! It was like a mini-Bible study!
Fr. Daniel Smith talked about us coming off the “big season” of some life events for Jesus and now being in “Ordinary Time”. He talked about Ordinary Time being NOT a dull and boring time, but rather a time in the church where all the reading focus on the examples of who Christ was a man. These examples are there for us to reflect on, learn from, and then try to emulate.
The first reading talked about being a “servant of God” and the Gospel spoke about the “Lamb of God”. He pointed out that a lamb back in biblical times was always slaughtered! I had always thought of a lamb being such a gentle creature –a nice image of Jesus – but now I realize that it is part of the story that foretells of Jesus being slaughtered for us! The 2nd reading was Paul to the Corinthians reminding the people to not be gossips and foolish judges of others since we are all children of God – A God (Jesus) who SERVES others without judgment and without gossip! I had to pause for a moment and think about that…..who am I to judge, when I don’t want to be judged by others….and we are all children of God – with our flaws, successes, accomplishments, and failures?
One really important part of his homily that he focused on was a revelation for me – He pointed out the incredible difference between two commonly used phrases in our church and in our lives – “I am here” and “Here I am”.
In the phrase “I am here”….the speaker is the subject who is stating where they are. There is an essence of control. There is almost an arrogance when it is said strongly. In the second phrase “Here I am”, there is an essence of vulnerability….as if the “I” has been lost and is now found. There is a completely different visual image in my mind as I think about those two statements.
If I were to stand in the presence of God….maybe eye to eye with Jesus asking “where are you? I am calling you by name to serve others”….I am not sure if I would say, “I AM HERE”…..or “HERE I AM”.
Of course, during the Eucharist, the congregation sang………”HERE I AM, LORD. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night.” Kelly became emotional thinking of her parents’ funerals. I became emotional watching Kelly become emotional. Then Liz became teary eyed as we all started then giggling about our out reaction to the emotions of that song!
As I handed tissues to Kelly, I could not help but think……….”Here We ARE, Lord! Here in Florida to be with our friends and experience a wonderful weekend of love, friendship, and support……Emotions and all!”
In the words of Liz as we were leaving church, “We came, we saw, and we cried!” That is what good friends can do with and for each other!
What a wonderful Mass in Florida! I am so blessed!