It is pretty safe to say that I bounce around to different parishes. A few weeks ago I went to Mass 8 times in 7 days at 7 different places. If you are a priest and reading this I’m sorry if that makes you cringe. I serve in different ministries at different parishes and go to different parishes during the week depending on my ever-changing youth ministry schedule. I am registered at only one of those parishes, if that makes you any happier. However, that is not the point.
A few weeks ago I was at one of these parishes (the parish that I grew up at) for their Sunday evening Mass. This Mass is notoriously short of Eucharistic Ministers (or Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, hereafter referred to as EMs). So, as is typical, I signed up to be an EM (I’m mandated at at least 2 parishes in the Archdiocese of Denver alone). This particular weekend I had the role of being a minister of the Body. Being an EM is a wonderful ministry, one that I don’t take lightly. (Hello, it is the BODY and BLOOD of Christ, after all!)
When the time came, I went up on the altar, received, and then went down to distribute Jesus. I was completely and utterly distracted. I kept noticing things about people as they came down to receive Him. I noticed people chewing gum, people texting, people chit-chatting as they approached the altar. I noticed women dressed…not how I would dress to go to dinner with the Lord. I noticed people checking sports scores on their phone (all of this while they were in line waiting to receive JESUS). I saw people picking their noses (literally). I even saw one woman come down without shoes on. I couldn’t help but be distracted, even shocked at some of the things I was witnessing. As I continued to give communion I kept praying that I would be able to focus on what was important. I prayed that the people who were receiving would come to know and love Him more, and that His love would inspire them (hopefully to stop chewing gum, texting, etc. at Mass). It was in those moments of prayer that I finally was able to focus on what was literally right in front of me.
Smack dab in the middle of me and whatever person I was blessed to be giving communion to. No matter what I thought about their choice of clothing for Mass or their habits as they approached the God of the Universe, Jesus was in the middle. He, for however brief a moment, became the focus. My relationship with each person that received was minimal compared to their relationship with Him whose Body they received. Was I really going to stand there and judge them as they came in contact with Jesus and were consumed by Him who so desperately desires to consume them? In an instant my focus was snapped back to exactly what I was doing, but more importantly, who I held in my hands.
Isn’t this how all of our relationships should be? God knows that in a single day I come in contact with people I don’t like, people who annoy me, and people who I love. Shouldn’t Christ be smack dab in the middle of them, regardless of whether I’m physically, literally offering them His Body? Yes. With each relationship we have – no matter how fleeting – the invitation is to put Christ smack dab in the middle of it. We should decrease so that He may increase. People should look up and see no longer us, but Christ. At Mass I had the great opportunity to literally put Christ between me and everyone I came in contact with that night. In life we have the great opportunity to invite Christ to be in the middle of us and anyone that He chooses to put in our paths. As trippy as it was I began to focus my eyes on each tiny little Jesus-wafer instead of the person before me. Such a focus, momentary though it was, challenged me to focus more on Christ than my judgements or thoughts about the person receiving. Who was receiving was irrelevant – what matters is the fact that they had a desire to receive Him, and ultimately to be consumed by Him.
So my challenge to you, my dearest lovely readers, is this: put Christ smack dab in the middle of every single person you come in contact with. That annoying co-worker? Put Christ in the middle. That person who text you for the 10th time today just to complain? Put Christ in the middle. Your spouse whom you love so dearly? Put Christ in the middle. Not off to the side, not a fly on the wall, put Christ smack dab in the middle. I’m willing to bet that putting Him in the middle will change every single interaction you have.
What I’m Listening To:
“Country Music Jesus” by Eric Church
“Like Jesus Does” by Eric Church
“Drink In My Hand” by Eric Church
“Sinners Like Me” by Eric Church