A recent mass I went to could qualify as a mess. My 6-year old son was with me and a few things happened during it that could qualifty as disruptive. Such an afront to order says the ordered self that “knows best”.
First there was someone behind us making hello noises and then blurting out happy noises. It was distracting a bit and required some explanation from me.
Secondly someone came up at the end of the mass when the priest, deacon and readers were doing the recessional. The man fell on his knees, did a semi-face plant on the lower alter and cried vigorously with his arms enfolded. He had a pony tail and was wearing shorts. He looked like one of “those people” like from Sons of Anarchy.
If that was not enough of a mess a young woman with an Eastern European veil came and knelt next to him and made him comfortable as a fellow sinner. I was left with even more to explain to my son who I am instructing in revering the Lord.
Please understand that I used wording above that was absurd to make a point. We need messes in church like that. My explanation about the woman behind us was that she had a different kind of head that most people and was worshiping Jesus they way she knew how. The man on the alter may have been outside of traditional decorum standards but I suspected he was getting right with God in his understaning and the best he knew how. The woman that knelt next to him reinforced that she also understood the depth of God’s mercy and that this man could find spiritual restoration in the context of community.
Pope Francis ended a homily recently telling the believers to, “Go out and make a mess”. This, is something baptized Christians should be drawn to do. We may need to stretch our hearts and minds but such messes like what happened in this mass are what is needed. Have you come to Jesus? Great! Jesus said to His first disciples about where He dwelt, “Come and see”. But do not forget that the last words to the disciples were, “Go into the world and make disciples…” and if by the grace of God the world comes into the church, warts and all, then so be it. Pray for their formation and dignity as a person God created one moment at a time, one day at a time.
One other lesson is this: after seeing the even by the alter I was a mess. Disruptive liquid came out of my eyes knowing that I am a sinner and appreciating the inexhaustible love of God is needed for me just as much and I was soaking it in. In my best wording I could use I summarized what happened to my son. If this message is formed in my kids’ lives just right, I hope that they are someday a mess and make many too.