St. John Chrysostom (347-407) tells us that “if you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the door, you will not find him in the chalice.” In 2016 faced with the same challenge neither new nor outdated.
The Penitential Rite takes place at the beginning of our liturgy with the words of our sacred texts and those of St. John front of mind. Fr. Phil reminds us each time we gather as a community celebrating God’s presence in Word and Sacrament, that our hearts need to be at peace. The peace that comes from both forgiving and being forgiven when we have failed to recognize the worth of another. When we may have failed to love our neighbor as ourselves.
In the event we assume we can avoid this most basic act of humility we will undoubtedly feel unfulfilled. We are encouraged to pause, reflect and speak to and with one another asking God to bring us peace; we ask that our Lord have mercy; we even use the words “I confess” and say out loud that we have faults and that we wish to be forgiven.
Numerous times in scripture we hear the appeal for us to leave our gifts at the door and seek the forgiveness of anyone we may have wronged. We are to do this before we consider bringing those same gifts to the altar. Somehow our gifts may not reflect the best we have to offer if we fail or refuse to ask forgiveness of our brothers and sisters and of God.
Certainly the beggars in our lives hope each day we seek this forgiveness. Their poverty brings them to the point of absolute humility. They lack the stuff of life which allows them to be free of chaos. They need us to be as free of our prejudices and judgments as possible so we actually see them, the beggar; they look to us to help lift them up. We need them to pray for us in their authentic, pure and unfettered words of blessing. Solidarity with the “beggars” in our lives allows us to share the Chalice as the healing presence of God.
The Jubilee Year of Mercy has been given to us as a time to revisit how we approach our weekly celebration of the Eucharist. Some of us may seek a very personal and private “talk” with God. Others may look forward to the opportunity to be in joyous communion with fellow brothers and sisters. No matter our particular devotion, the fact remains we must seek forgiveness for any and all instances when we may have failed to be the person of faith Jesus asks us to be. Having a pure heart promises absolution, Jesus assures us. Our liturgy expresses this very solemnly and clearly. We are asked to share, as a community, the fact that we may have missed the beggar at the door. We are provided a special moment to renew our desire, as humble beggars ourselves, to reach out to those on the margins.