On Sunday, a family from nearby who hadn’t been to Mass in years came to Saint Bernadette hoping to celebrate Easter.
They were not disappointed. They found a place to park, freshly landscaped grounds, and a pew to sit in. They found an excited crowd, many kids the same age as theirs, and folks dressed for the occasion. They found beautiful flowers overflowing the sanctuary. They heard amazing music, sung and played by real people, right there, with no recordings and nothing “canned.” They found candles burning, and more altar servers than they had ever seen on one place, but who all knew what to do, and how to use every polished and placed piece of equipment, every vessel and vestment.
People stepped out of the crowd to greet them, handed them programs, and made room for them. Others stood to help with the collection, or distribute Holy Communion, or hand them a bulletin. When the baby fussed, nobody turned and gave the a sour look.
They heard the Scriptures proclaimed, and the Gospel preached, of Jesus Christ raised from the dead. The saw Him come in His risen body and blood, and be greeted with reverence and rejoicing. They heard fervent prayer and joyful praise, and found easy company in the assortment of people praying.
Afterwards they stepped out into a chilly morning warmed by friendly laughter, excited shouts, and coffee. They were offered some festive food to eat, and a chance to linger. I think someone mentioned sports, and the school. I don’t know if they got a registration card or not.
I do not know if I will ever see them again. But they saw Jesus that morning; they found Him for whom they were looking. They were invited to join the Communion that His death and resurrection have made possible.
There was also a group of young people on Holy Thursday, looking for Christ in the breaking of the bread, and the washing of the feet; and that nice young woman who came here with her sadness to accompany Christ in his Passion on Good Friday. They all found what Christ promised: I am with you always, until the end of the age. And they found Him here.
Of course they don’t know how many people had to accomplish so many tasks, prepare so many items, and practice and present so much work. Depending on which liturgy, and which moment, I think there were between fifty and seventy-five people at work to make that graced experience possible. Just for that one moment.
For all of you of the parish who worked to make Christ present this Holy Week and Easter, I am deeply grateful. Whether you were in one of the stand-out groups whose work is visibly superb, like our choir or servers, or one of the behind the-the-scenes folks, like those who polished brass, placed flowers, or brought doughnuts; whether our visitors saw your face and heard your voice, proclaiming the Scriptures or saying Happy Easter; or whether they’ll never know how hard you had to work to get that part or piece ready; whether anybody ever knows what you gave up or missed with your family to be here to help, or serve, or assist, or prepare, I thank you, and our parish thanks you.
Even – especially – if you simply helped, smiled, greeted, offered to hold the door or the baby, or invited someone, anyone, to come and see, I thank you, and they will thank you eternally, for showing the risen Jesus Christ to souls who came in search of Him. God bless you.