February 24, 2014
I had a deeply moving experience while attending Mass last Sunday.
I was with my niece at her parish in another diocese. She and I had a big day planned shopping for her 15th birthday party (as her godmother, I tend to spoil her), and we started it off with morning Mass at her parish.
After receiving Communion, we returned to our seats and remained standing, as is the custom in that diocese. We were singing the communion song together, when I noticed the elderly gentleman who was sitting in the row in front of us was seated, and had pulled something out of his coat pocket. From where I stood, almost directly behind him, I could see it was a small stack of business sized cards, held together by a rubber band. On top of the stack was a formal portrait of him and a woman I assume was his wife, looking to be a few years back. He pulled that picture from the stack and underneath was a prayer card, such as those received at funerals, with her picture on it and words of prayer above. He drew the first picture, the portrait, to his lips and kissed it, then sat holding it in his hand a few moments, as if in prayer. He then kissed it again, returned it to the stack neatly, and returned it to his pocket.
After this gesture, he picked up his hat and cane, and rose to leave the church. He happened to glance my way, and gave me a sad little smile, with tears in his eyes. My own tears were running down my face, as I had witnessed such a grand gesture of love in just those few moments.
Even as I write this, I am moved to tears once again. I think what struck me so soundly was the amount of love this man had for his wife, and that he had taken those precious moments after receiving Communion to pray with her. A bond that was made in life continues after the earthly life has ended, and becomes an eternal bond.
Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium writes of the Father’s love for us, and the bond we form with Him simply by being His children. When we are fully aware of this love, there is no way it can be hidden from sight. Everything we do and everything we are is a direct result of God’s love for us. This fact cannot be denied.
Paragraph 264 of Evangelii Gaudium tells us that “the primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to even greater love of him. What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known?”
Knowing that we are loved by God should fill us with such joy that we can’t help but let everyone know! In words, in actions, in song…any way we can we need to shout out the wonderful truth: God is love. Just as the gentleman held the picture of his wife near his heart, so are we held in the palm of our God’s hands, cared for and loved.
I can almost imagine God carrying around a picture of me, pulling it out of His pocket to look at, to kiss. I can imagine the look would be a sad one at those times I place myself far from Him, and a happy one when I am living out who He wants me to be. But either way, no matter what place I am in my life, I am God’s beloved.
And so are you.
Take this good news and pass it on! Share that with the people you meet each day, whether it be in word, in action, or (if you are like me) in song! I am God’s beloved, and so are you!