On this blustery Holy Saturday, sun fighting with clouds, warmth fighting with wind, I’m thinking about what a holy human mess I am. How I always was and always will be. And why, 25 years ago, I became Catholic at the Easter Vigil service in a now-shuttered parish in Cambridge, Mass.
I became Catholic not because of the Church, a human structure built on faith but prone to error. I became Catholic because I’m prone to error, too, and because of that, I need the Eucharist. I became Catholic because I believed in God — something I started doing as a kid — and because I believed in Christ — something I started doing a teenager — and because I had come to believe that the Eucharist was the singular, unchanged, inclusive and binding force between Jesus and every messy child of God born before and since.
The Lord’s supper drew me. It’s not that I felt worthy of it; I felt as unworthy as anyone. But I was convinced that the gift of Jesus, by Jesus, at the table with Jesus, was meant to make things right for all of us, whether we choose to pull up a chair or not. “Christ died for the ungodly,” Paul wrote. Also: “In Christ there is no East or West.” Or gay or straight or poor or rich or imprisoned or free or black or brown or white.
How easy to forget this in our passion for pushing away anyone who doesn’t fit our notion of right, normal, acceptable, traditional, perfect. I’m baffled and angered by the behavior and beliefs of Christians who cast others as Other, as though Jesus ever left anyone out. As though any kind of Other wasn’t loved by him. As though any of us is anything but.
I don’t think much about sin, but I know we’re all full of oddities and imperfections, and I’m pretty sure that God made us that way. He’s the omniscient one, right? He knows this about us. He knows we’re odd. I’m also pretty sure we aren’t expected to be perfect, however one might define such a thing. We’re called to try our best, to aim a little higher and love a little better, to offer a hand when someone stumbles and hold on gratefully whenever that someone’s us. This is the body of Christ, the literal and metaphoric corpus at the the table, the grip of love and unity designed to heal us all.
Christ was perfect; that’s enough. We’re not, so he is on our behalf. He represents! God sent us Jesus to handle that end of things, to be faultless because we can’t be, to be the ideal love that shows the way. Jesus came because we’re broken, not because we’re whole. He’ll be there tonight at the table. Twenty-five years later, so will I.