Sunday, April 27, 2014

Watching the Coverage of the Canonizations of John Paul II and John XXIII

I just heard one of the commentators use this wonderful phrase: "The Church is not a collectivity. The Church is a family."

Less than an hour before, I had been at Mass where the priest said: "I was watching the Mass on the telly before I came over. They'd only reached the Gloria by then. It will probably still be going on when we finish here. But it's the same Mass we're having here, even though it's more simple here and more full of pomp there." This, to me, is one of the great joys of the Mass.

And the reality of communion without collectivity, just as the commentator was saying, is another of the great joys. I love looking at the communion line at Mass. I love seeing the old people, young people, children, families, people on their own, stylishly dressed people, very un-stylishly dressed people, otherworldly-looking people, people who look like high-powered businessmen, serene-looking people, troubled-looking people....all become one family. The differences not done away with, but somehow transcended and harmonised.

I always feel that the Church is, perhaps, the only institution and philosophy of life in the world that lets children be children, young people be young people, old people be old people, men be men, women be women, celibates be celibate, sick people be sick people, and honours them all for their specialness. While at the same time, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus".

It is a source of tremendous pleasure to me to think that, in every church in the world on any Sunday, a different homily is being preached, though all of them are hopefully articulating the same Word. This is why I think we should be patient with bad homilists. As the great Chesterton said: "If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing badly." The bad homilist may be giving more from his poverty than the great homilist gives from his abundance.

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