I Saw Jesus at Mass
By Mary Bruno
We all know Christ is present at Mass, but it’s quite special when we are able to see such a striking resemblance of him in the congregation.
My husband Chris and I moved to the northshore several years ago and began to notice a doting father caring for his handicapped daughter every Sunday at Mass. His care and attention captivated us both – a beautiful representation of Christ himself right there in the pew.
It’s easy to take note of their entrance into the church, because his daughter rides in one of the more elaborate types of wheelchairs. He always situates her in the first row and is diligent about lining her up perfectly for the best view. Once he gets her set, he sits closely to her and regularly checks in. His attention repetitively moves back and forth between her and the altar.
She doesn’t appear to have much muscular control in her upper body, so every several minutes he carefully repositions her head so she can see more clearly. When he’s not adjusting her view, he’s holding her hand or fixing her blanket. At some point, he reclines her wheelchair to make her more comfortable.
This past Sunday, I happened to catch the priest smiling in sweet approval, touched by the love of a father he witnessed in the front row. When it came time for Communion, for whatever reason, she did not receive right away when her father did. Immediately afterwards, he rested his head near her shoulder for a short time, a reason for which I could only imagine was to allow her to be as close to Jesus as possible without receiving him herself.
As the priest and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion were finishing up, I noticed him lean in towards her and say something to her before kissing her on the cheek. Then, he found one of the ministers and asked her to break off a small piece of the host to give to his daughter, which she did, with the girl’s father sitting attentively close by to assist her in consuming the Eucharist.
It was beautiful.
As limited as this young woman’s experience of temporal life may be, I don’t think she has one doubt about her beauty and worth as a daughter of God. And this, without a doubt, is an incredible gift that her earthly father has given her – as an ideal reflection of our “heavenly father” that we can all take note of.
What if we all knew how ardently we are loved by God, even more than this doting father loves his precious daughter? How different would we be if we believed that he is so attentive and present in every aspect of our day?
Even more, what if we all put this much effort and attention into the people that God entrusts to us, regardless of how small or inconvenient some actions might seem? What if we cared just as much for others when we don’t receive anything quantifiable in return?
I imagine that the world would look very different. And, I can’t change the world, but I can change myself to become a better reflection of Jesus himself for all who come in contact with me.