Posted on May 7, 2020

10 May 2020

I didn’t intend to wake up to watch John Paul II’s funeral in the middle of the night.

I did though.  Accidently.

Like many people I was moved by the simplicity of his casket

sitting there on the ground in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

This man used to be the most powerful person in the church.

There he was, in a simple wooden box, on the ground.

His funeral in the end, even though it was attended by the great and powerful,

was really not much different than the funeral that anyone of us might have.

There is a lesson there.

It’s a hard lesson for me.

As I’ve said in many places and at many times, I’ve never really wanted to be a priest.

I am because at one point in my life I thought it was the right thing to do.

So here I am.

And I would like to think I get a gold star for sticking it out this long.

But more than that, there are times when I think of the people who haven’t stuck it out,

when I think of all the people who for one reason or another aren’t part of this

worshiping assembly anymore,

I want to think that somehow, I’m still in the church–and they’re out.

And the hard lesson for me is that that may not be true at all.

What I saw as I watched that simple wooden casket on the ground

was the common, the universal description of everyone of us–

to be a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,

a people who belong to God.

In other words, we don’t join the church–we are the church,

we don’t belong to the church, we are the living stones of the church.

Even if we’re not here, we still are the church.

And here is the unfair part, the part I don’t like and maybe the part you don’t like either.

Those of us who are here are called to do two things:

1) Never to forget that those who aren’t here, are also the church.

2) Always to act as if those who aren’t here, are also the church.

One of the things which most struck people about John Paul was that he reached

out across religious denominations, across religions.

Now, that didn’t make us one happy family, erasing all divisions,

But that was not the task given to us.

The task given to us, is to act as if everyone was a child of God,

part of the church–whether they are here or not,

whether we like it or not.