I’m quite sure my buddy Jim had no intention of sounding like a Holy Elder when our paths crossed on the church parking lot…just as 6:30 Mass was letting out this morning.
‘Who ARE all these people?’ he grumbled, half-kiddingly. ‘And why are they getting in my way?’
It was an inside joke for us daily-Mass regulars: A holy day tends to swell the early-morning congregation considerably…touching off a traffic jam that inevitably delays progress toward that first cup of after-Mass coffee.
Hence Jim’s semi-serious complaint.
I couldn’t help but notice, though, how he’d more-or-less quoted the scripture passage we’d heard proclaimed just a few minutes earlier, in the first reading from the book of Revelation:
Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
And I thought about the people I’d just seen inside…
…how my heart had been lifted to recognize the face of a dear friend in the crowd—another 6:30 Mass regular—back for the first time following a many-months-long convalescence…
Or another: A woman I’d met a few years back in RCIA, who’d since moved to Dallas following a job transfer.
Or another: The wife of a friend, wearing her chemo-cap, seeking heavenly nourishment for her ongoing battle against breast cancer.
Or another: The pregnant mother, somehow managing an early-morning smile even with her 4-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter in tow.
All of them, and more. Many more. Perhaps not quite ‘a great multitude which no one could count…’
…but enough to help me recognize how very blessed I am…to have been in their company first-thing this morning.
And: enough to give me a glimpse into the treasure that awaits when our lives are done.
Enough, to let me see that I walk among the saints (or at least, saints-in-training) whenever I go to Mass.
Like the Holy Elder in today’s first reading, I am surrounded by ‘the ones who have survived the time of great distress.’
I share their faith…and participate in the very same opportunity for grace…all of us, living saints, who have confidently
washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.
This is, indeed, a great feast we celebrate today – filled with wonder and blessing and power. Power enough, it turns out, to bring a smile to my lips even before I consume my first cup of coffee.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.