Friday, September 13, 2013

Always Conscious of God

What does a priest do when during his sermon a toddler with unsteady steps makes his way down the main aisle to the altar, calling out Abba Abba, the sound getting louder as he arrived at the altar?  asks a columnist on the spiritual page of the Catholic Times. Since it happened so quickly no one was quick enough to respond to the situation, and no one could anticipate how the situation would develop. The priest stopped speaking, looked at the infant and said:

"Child, why are you making our relationship known to the whole world?" He then left the pulpit, picked up the child and brought it to the toddler's room. The mother couldn't imagine her child walking to the altar, and  stood transfixed, not knowing what to do. At the priest's words, the whole congregation broke out in  uncontrollable laughter.

The mother took the child from the priest and, with her head down and very much embarrassed, went back to the room. The priest returned to the altar and continued with the Mass and told the congregation that, like the child  who was calling out Father as he was coming to the altar, he will try to be the good Father and priest. When life comes to an end he wants to be able to go to God the Father like the child coming to the altar. The congregation broke out in applause and laughter as if everybody in the congregation wanted to be like the child  going to God our Father.

The columnist mentions hearing the complaints of a mother who was asked to leave the church because the baby she was holding was crying.  And at the children's Mass, one of the teachers said the penalties given to children for not behaving were difficult to accept, for she herself tries to enter the children's world to learn how to go to God with the innocence of a child.

The columnist wonders how many, like the priest in the incident with the child, have the presence of mind and the spirituality to respond as the priest had done when events suddenly take us by surprise. Do we revert to our ordinary way of behaving? Or do we recall how Jesus showed us how to behave when sudden events surprise us? Jesus was always acting appropriately because he was always conscious of God. 

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