On many occasions, I encounter those who make their daily obsession with legalism above real love. As such, they are unable to see beyond their own “shadows of bigotry” and refuse to allow all to experience God as commanded by Christ. To highlight, I offer two contrasting stories: the first from twenty-two years ago and the second from today.
In the fall of 1996, I attended a weekend retreat at a northern California Monastery. During a Saturday night Eucharist, the Benedictine monk explained mass is a privileged time when we offer ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord along with the gifts of bread and wine, and, by receiving him in Holy Communion, allow him to transform us too into the Body of Christ, just as surely as the gifts are transformed.
One-by-one, each retreatant moved from the congregational seats and proceeded to receive the Eucharist. Just before ending, the monk noticed a lone woman remained three rows deep. With offering in hand, the monk stood to the woman’s side as tears flowed from her eyes.
“Please?” the monk gestured.
“No, I cannot” the woman responded.
“Father, I have immigrated from Iran. I have not Catholic and am forbidden to receive the Holy Communion.”
“My dear child,” the monk whispered. “I am most certain Christ will not mind.” The monk outstretched his arm, placed the communion in his fingers, “The Body of Christ.”
“Amen,” said the Iranian woman as a river of tears flowed from her heart.
Contrast the story above against that which was witnessed today.
An Asian woman was the Taiwanese daughter of a Protestant Pastor. Having spent all her life giving to Christ and to the mission of God, she immigrated and found a home in an eastern Missouri city.
After years of dedication and service, she received her PhD in counseling and Christian theology. As a result, she was highly coveted speaker in the Christian arena and was actively recruited by a local Catholic seminary to teach seminary students, priests and nuns counseling and Christian faith.
As she often does, she attends mass almost daily and receives communion regularly.
Just like all other days, she proceeded to receive communion, but today was unlike all other days. The Jesuit Priest knew she was not Catholic and when her turn for communion came, the priest publicly refused her Communion.
This servant of God was publicly called out, not for her love, dedication and communion with Christ, but simply because she was not Catholic. As a river of tears flowed from her heart none of her peers challenged the priest.
Verily I say, those who pretend to be above it all are the ones to worry about. These are the ones who destroy the relationships of Christ. Be careful, for Christ calls them “blind guides.”
In both stories, Christ witnessed a river of tears. Yet, which servant will Christ honor?