Spirit of Christ Catholic Church, Arvada, Colorado
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 21:23-27
When Jesus had come into the temple area, the chief priests and elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, "By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?" Jesus said to them in reply, "I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things. Where was John's baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?" They discussed this among themselves and said, "If we say 'Of heavenly origin,' he will say to us, 'Then why did you not believe him?' But if we say, 'Of human origin,' we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet." So they said to Jesus in reply, "We do not know." He himself said to them, "Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things."
When I read this, I see that Jesus does not answer the question of the chief priests and elders as he had answered the question of John the Baptist. Their trickery and deceit were obvious to Jesus and he refused to answer them. So, drawing my own conclusion about this, Jesus will answer the honest questions of those honestly inquiring, but not questions designed to trick. I find this very reassuring.
Yesterday I went back to the church I attended 20 years ago. It was the church where I "reverted" to my Catholic faith after leaving for a chunk of my early adulthood. I have not been there for 15 years. In fact, they have an entirely new church since then. When I was a parishioner, we were sitting on plastic chairs, no pews, and no kneelers. Now they have a grand and beautiful church.
I met my friend there yesterday. Imagine our surprise when we saw that we were dressed alike. One little difference was that I had on a rose colored scarf - for Gaudete Sunday. Imagine our continued surprise when we were approached by the ushers and asked to bring the gifts to the altar. I have never been asked to do that before. There we were, two middle aged women, dressed alike, walking up the aisle, presenting the gifts. It was very special to me.
I spent a bit of time reflecting on this church and my current parish. The church that had so much appeal to me 20 years ago is so different than the parish I have chosen for my home today. It is loud and theatrical. The priest dramatically walks about while delivering his homily. There are large screens placed about the church with the words to the music so that we can sing along. They ask if there are any birthdays in the week and the birthday people come to the altar for a blessing - and a singing of Happy Birthday by the whole congregation (I was one of those yesterday - my birthday is this week). The message is heavy on hope and love.
My current parish is quiet and old. Most of the heads are gray. The 73 year old pastor stands at the pulpit and reads a homily. The choir accompanies the organ. There are missals in the pews, we read music and sing with the choir. This church has an average of 3 funerals a week. The message is heavy on eternal life.
So different! I wish I could find something in between the two. But I guess I will "bloom where I am planted" and right now I am at the old church. And I do love it.
But yesterday, in my old church, we sang "Immanuel," and I cried when I remembered my first "coming back" confession - almost 20 years ago. It was the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent. I hung around church for the 5 o'clock mass. We sang this song that day, and I cried that day. When I heard it yesterday, I remembered the amazing experience that was. And it made me so grateful to be back among the fold.