At Mass

The priest at Saturday’s Sunset mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace was not the usual priest. He was a covering priest who usually celebrates the Sunday Evening mass. But this Saturday he was celebrating the Saturday Sunset Mass.

PL had seen him before at Church of the Risen Christ, and he seemed to be like an “itinerant priest” or journeyman priest, celebrating mass at various churches to make up for the shortage of priests, I believe.

I didn’t get his name (don’t think he introduced himself).

He was interesting. I like the sense of joy I got from him.

And his sermon (or homily) was interesting.

The Gospel reading was about the 5 loaves and 2 fish and the feeding of the multitude. His sermon was similar to another explanation for the miracle of the feeding of the mutlitude I had heard years ago, but let me just summarise his story.

It was a busload of travellers on their way to Las Vegas late at night in the middle of a severe snowstorm. The driver got lost, took a wrong turn, and the bus got stuck in a huge snowdrift unable to move.

The driver told the passengers that help would come in the morning or when the snowstorm ended, but until then they were stuck on a bus. But he had enough fuel so he would start up the engine regularly so he could heat the bus and keep everyone comfortable and safe.

Half an hour in to their forced overnight stay in the stranded bus, the driver asked, “Anyone have food?”

Deadly silence.

Then suddenly a young boy piped up, “I have some sandwiches and a bagful of munchies! I will pass the bad around and we can all share!”

So the bag got passed around, and when it got back to the boy, there were more food in it than when it started. It started with sandwiches, cookies, and some chips/crisps, but now there were some apples, bananas, candy bars, pretzels, etc.

What do you think happened? Did a miracle just happened?

If you guessed that other people probably had some food with them and when the bag reached them, feeling guilty or ashamed for not offering to share, they had discreetly contributed to the bag of food, you show an understanding of human nature.

The priest also chose to focus on the fact that the naive, unsophisticated, unguarded, unpretentious boy just blurted out that he had food, and willingly shared his food without worrying that he might not have enough.

But let me focus on the priest.

He looked middle-aged, like in his 50’s. His hair was thinning, his hairline receding.

And he was an itinerant priest, covering duties wherever he is needed.

I’m not sure about the hierarchy of priests but I think a young priest would aim to be a parish priest (PP) or an assistant parish priest (APP).

As an aside, there was a visiting priest from India who celebrated mass at Queen Of Peace some weeks ago, and he told this story. “What is ‘PP’?” he asked a parishioner (in his parish).

“Problematic Person”, answered the parishioner.

“And ‘APP’?” he pressed.

“Another Problematic Person.”

And then after that you aim for monsignor and Archbishop or something.

But here he was, middle-age, and presumably not a Problematic Person. Or even “another problematic person”.

And there was joy in his words, in his voice, in his celebration of Mass. He was doing what he had signed up for and he let his joy shine through.

Or maybe I am just projecting.

 

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