Unless you live on a deserted island where your only friend is a volleyball named Wilson, you know that this week Donald Trump becomes president. No matter your feelings about the president-elect, I think you will all agree with me that there has never been such a divided country – at least politically – and never so much anger and angst and anxiety and every other negatively-charged word that begins with A as there is over this election and the subsequent presidency.
The whole business has made me rather sad. For eight years I have listened to conservatives bashing Obama, and now I am listening to people talking about impeachment before the man is even sworn in as president. Can’t we all just take a breath and remember that we are the United States of America?
Perhaps this is why the Mass yesterday satisfied my troubled soul so soundly. It wasn’t the scripture readings, though they always give me comfort. How can one not be comforted by the prophet Isaiah reminding us that God will never forsake us, and that he will make us all a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
But our priest elected to concentrate on reconciliation rather than the preachings of the weekend’s scripture readings.
Spreading his hands wide as he addressed the congregation, he told us, “You are the Body of Christ. This church is only a building. Sometimes it is full of people and sometimes it is completely empty. But it doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day, YOU are the Body of Christ.”
I loved what he said, and for a variety of reasons. I have mentioned before that I am saddened by the fact that some of the people that I love have left church, and that only some of my grandchildren are baptized. But I think God, via the words of Fr. O’Neill, was reminding me that it isn’t the building that’s important, but what we believe and how we live our lives as the Body of Christ that matters most. Church simply feeds us, or at least feeds me.
But Fr. O’Neill went on to talk about reconciliation of the people in our country. Have your beliefs, he said, but love one another.
And this is the Eucharistic Prayer (which is recited at every Catholic Mass just prior to the Consecration of the Eucharist) that he chose for our gathering….
It is truly right and just that we should give you thanks and praise, O God, almighty Father, for all you do in this world, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
For though the human race is divided by dissension and discord, yet we know that by testing us you change our hearts to prepare them for reconciliation.
Even more, by your Spirit you move human hearts that enemies may speak to each other again, adversaries may join hands, and peoples seek to meet together.
By the working of your power it comes about, O Lord, that hatred is overcome by love, revenge gives way to forgiveness, and discord is changed to mutual respect.
And that’s all I’ll say about that!
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