A tourist says to his guide, “You have a right to be proud of your town I was especially impressed with the number of churches in it. Surely the people here must love the Lord.” “Well,” replied the cynical guide, “”they may love the Lord, but they sure as hell hate each other.”–taken from “Selected Writings of Anthony De Mello.” by William Dych, SJ.
I’ve written before how much De Mello’s words touch me and this short story is a good one. How often do we hear of religious people full of intolerance for each other. This morning at Mass I witnessed an unusual event. Fr. Dan Riley, OFM who was our celebrant began the Eucharist this morning by inviting us to say our names and then told us that at some point during the liturgy we would break so that some late arriving guests could join us and then we’d sing “Happy Birthday” to one of them.
He began with the sign of the cross and then followed the Introit, the Kyrie, the Gloria, the first reading and the psalm, Following the psalm, Fr. Dan heard the guests arrive and then he walked out of the chapel to greet them. As we sat there waiting for the Mass to resume I thought of how much Fr. Dan’s actions were like those of Jesus. He didn’t wait for them to come to him, but went to them, met them when they were still aways off and brought them into our midst and then we sang Happy Birthday to Maurice. Dan’s actions speak louder than any words he could have spoken this morning. He was Christ to us and to the late arriving guests. The love in the chapel was palpable this morning and it touched us all.
The guest was St. Bonaventure University basketball player, Maurice Thomas, and his family. We all got to meet Maurice and his family and we all experienced love first hand. There was much love there this morning and its an event I won’t soon forget.