November, 2, 2014
Following Holy Mass, I made a quick dash to the bathroom, downed a piece of pumpkin bread in the fellowship hall and returned to the church to pray. The red, front door was locked. I went to the back door. A young man in a nice white shirt opened it for me. Eagerly, I jumped inside and parked myself at the altar railing to converse with Jesus. All smiles, I thanked Him for such a lovely All Souls Mass celebrated by Fr. Holiday, and for allowing me to partake of the greatest gift: Himself.
I moved back to one of the pews as each one held a Bible and I wished to re-read the reading from St. Paul’s letter which really struck me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember which one it was. I browsed through 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians then Ephesians before giving up. Sighing, I gazed up at Jesus silently waiting in the tabernacle. “What do you want? I ask him. He often played this “game” with me, inviting me to sit but saying nothing. It was his way, a beautiful gesture of his love. It felt okay just to be there, not saying anything, not asking for anything, just being together.
Out of the corner of my eye, I suddenly saw Fr. Holiday. He hovered there by the side door like a black apparition hidden behind clouds of incense- though surely it was him. Remembering that I needed to receive confession and absolution, I reckoned it a good thing. Calmly and patiently, I watched him fold his hands in prayer. A great peace came over me, so still and tranquil, so blessed. It was the peace in his heart. Fervently, I prayed for God to bless this priest and give him strength for whatever he faced today. Whether a result of my overactive imagination, faith in Christ or general weirdness, the feeling of connectedness remained for several blessed minutes. From behind me, another figure emerged. The second priest! He carried a purple stole and a small silver canister. I instantly recalled seeing something similar when the priest anointed my dying grandmother on her hospital bed. It contained the oil of the sick.
Before the sacred altar, the priest knelt at the railing. Fr. Holiday placed a hand on him, prayed over him and anointed him. Here, healing was called down from heaven and sins washed away. At this moment, I gasped with awe: wonder of Christ’s own power and work. I kept thinking: How blessed and undeserving am I, to see a priest blessing and absolving another priest! This is the way God’s graces work. Like many flooding waters, pouring out unchecked, unheedful and foolish, his love comes with abundance to those most in need.
I guess that’s the point. The Bible verse I sought, which was from the Gospel NOT the epistle letter, explains it perfectly:
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,” – John 6:37
Anyone who comes to him will not be rejected. Anyone! The best and the worst. We merit punishment for all the times we turn away and do deeds of selfishness, for perpetuating the sins and weakness of our first human parents, but Our Lord is ever patient. We should rightfully go to the grave and never come back but no, death is not the end. We have immense, unbelievable chances at second life. Before lifting his hand in judgement, he lifts it in welcome. There will be many, many times to approach and be totally healed, totally forgiven, times to reconcile, many times of mercy before the coming Day of Wrath.