Sunday, August 5, 2012

A failing grade

     On a weekend that was okay, but just a little off - an unusual flub or two with the translations, music that was just not on at times, a never before experience at the Saturday baptism at Mass of little Mackenzie Bria Koraly (who as I was about to pour the water reached up and blocked my movement with her arm - surprisingly strong, too) - I was confronted with a "test" at the 11:00 am Mass.  After the 8:30 I began to have some intestinal problems and my lower back was really bothering me.  But I was coping.  At about twenty till, an usher came and asked if I had given an okay for a couple with a child to stand outside the entrance of the church with a sign asking for food or shelter?  I was not aware that this was happening.  People were concerned, or uncomfortable, or embarrassed to walk past them.  I went out and told them to not solicit there.  It was raining and they indicated that they needed to stay out of the rain.  I said okay, but no sign.  They promptly disregarded or did not understand what I had told them.  Some people gave them money, some wanted to know if we should ask them to leave, some asked about called the police, some wanted to invite them in.

     At that point, with Mass about to start and dealing with my physical difficulties, I did nothing.  I could not handle this "complication" at that moment.  I did not offer to get them help ... I did not personally invite them in ... I was suspicious and kept an eye on them.  And I felt miserable about it.  Running through my mind was that this is not what Christ would do, this is not what I should do as a Christian, this was not a good example.  My homily was focused on Ephesians where Paul says not to be conformed to the world but to put on Christ.  As I am listening to the readings I am saying to myself that I am conforming to the world.  My thoughts were in at least four places at homily time (I think I said as much).  I apologized to those who were offended by this experience, affirmed those who responded out of concern, and mentioned that maybe this was a "testing moment", like Francis encountering Christ in the leper in Assisi.  But I personally failed the test - big time!

     The couple, a young man and woman, with a child much too big for the stroller that she was in, may have been from south of the border.  The ushers invited them in.  One parishioner offered yard work and I understand was told by the gentleman that he did not have a green card.  They were driving a passenger van.  And they were given help.  One of our good parishioners contacted the local Saint Vincent de Paul for assistance, and as they were waiting for the SVDP rep to arrive, the couple thanked me.

     Confronted with a challenging situation, I handled it poorly.  I am truly sorry to the three who found themselves on our doorstep as well as to the many who were not inspired by my example of living the Christian life.  Not one of my better days!

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