May 31, 2015
I arrived late for the 90th birthday celebration of the matriarch of a large family in my parish. Even before I walked into the hall, the sound of the music told me that the party was already in full swing. No one noticed my entrance because everyone was focused on “Gramma.” There she was in a beautiful dress with a big corsage pinned to her shoulder, in the middle of the dance floor, surrounded by the third and fourth generations of her family…”getting down!” Her gray hair, wrinkles and frail body gave witness to her age, but the spirit with which she was doing her best to copy the kids’ dance moves…the smile on her face…and the joy and love that radiated from her…were timeless. Like the rest of her family, who, like me, did not have the stamina to join her on the dance floor, I just stood and watched and enjoyed.
At some point, she looked over and saw me on the fringe of the crowd. She put her hand over her mouth, bowed her head slightly, and, clearly embarrassed, stopped dancing. I have never forgotten the image of that dear little lady at that moment. For that split second, time fell away and I saw a shy, young girl. She walked over to me and said, “Oh, Father, I feel so silly, I didn’t see you come in.” There was the wise, responsible, hard-working and self-confident elder…not only of her family but of the entire Christian community. And as she stood there surrounded by her loving family…all well known to me because none in that family ever missed Sunday Mass…I got a very brief glimpse of what she would become. At the appointed time, this good and faithful Christian woman, who did her best to live and to pass on our faith, would certainly be given a special place in the heavenly banquet surrounded by the angels and saints.
In a way, there are three persons in each of us. We carry our past, we live in the present, and we are all destined for a future. The question being…is the trinity…the “threeness” of our lives…HOLY? If we do our best to live out the Baptismal dignity with which we were blessed by The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then our own personal trinity IS holy. And someday, when we turn and see that the Lord has come for us…there will be no need for us to feel embarrassed. We will simply follow Him into the eternal banquet where the feasting and dancing will never end…not even if a priest happens to enter!