As a rule, I don’t need a GPS to get to Sunday Mass — but that wasn’t the case yesterday.
About a dozen of my Kairos teammates and I were in unfamiliar territory as we headed across the Big Muddy from our base in Chester, IL — to take part in a 6:00 a.m. Eucharist at Ste. Genevieve, about 25 miles north on the Missouri side of the river. (The early morning liturgy was essential, because we were due to begin our day at the prison at 7:30.)
As we were gathering at the hotel, a few of the guys remarked that they knew how to get to the city of Ste Genevieve…but as for the church of the same name, they weren’t quite so confident. All they could tell me was that it was a little tricky once you got into town.
Somehow, I ended up at the head of the line of vehicles. My teammates were following me to church — even though I had only the vaguest notion of where I was going. So: thank goodness for the GPS…and the internet…which provided at least a semblance of confidence that we’d get there in time for the celebration.
And it was more than a little intriguing to note the Gospel passage we encountered upon arrival — from 14th chapter of John, in which Jesus tells his disciples, ‘Where I am going you know the way.’
Having so recently negotiated an unfamiliar route, I felt a deep sense of empathy with Thomas’ reply: ‘Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?’
Even more intriguing, though, was the chance to meditate on the words Jesus speaks next in that Gospel passage:
‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’
It’s a strange sort of reply, if you think about it — not at all like the turn-by-turn directions you get from a GPS. And yet, it stirred up in me a new appreciation for how Christ often makes the Way plain to us, through the members of His body. I literally served as the wayfinder for my teammates early on Sunday morning. But I also came to realize how Christ had worked in different ways through many of them at different parts of the Kairos Weekend. And not only through my teammates — but also through the broader Christian community:
- Those who had baked cookies for us to bring into the prison.
- Those who had added their names to our prayer chain.
- Those who had sent posters of encouragement and support from across the country … and around the world.
- Those who’d cooked and served a meal for us on Saturday evening.
Even those ‘6:00 regulars’ in the pews at the church of Ste. Genevieve … who probably didn’t quite know what to make of the Kairos invasion — a bunch of unfamiliar graybeards, crowded together in a couple of pews … dudes who acted like they actually enjoyed each other’s company at Mass.
I didn’t necessarily expect to find Christ in just such a way over the weekend … but there He was, working in and through the gifts of the people all around me. Giving us the power to do His works — greater works than we could ever imagine doing on our own.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.