This morning, we announced a new partnership to provide housing for those who are most vulnerable in our community. At our parish conversation about the partnership I talked about the way we welcome the homeless in our midst as being directly tied to the way we worship.
The Cathedral is committing to the work of a new Tabernacle – we will create a place of safety for the Body of Christ. It is imperative that we who seek Christ’s Presence see him revealed in those too easily ignored.
Every celebration of the mass is an act of faith in which our eyes see with the soul’s longing for God. The way we encounter those in need is as much an act of faith. Christ is revealed to faithful eyes. It is easy to scoff at the Body of Christ veiled beneath the form of simple bread. It is just as tempting to scoff at the Presence of Christ in someone who is too easy to dismiss because of poverty.
Yet, beneath the surface, waiting for faithful eyes to see, is new life – is the source of our salvation. In the Eucharist we receive Grace upon Grace. In serving those most in need we receive grace as well – we find that the space of relationship becomes hallowed ground where new life is born. In those relationships we find ourselves broken open and reformed with the gold of sympathy and genuine love filling in the cracks.
Whether we see or not, that grace, that genuine Presence is there – God’s promise is alive. Yet it is in receiving that Communion fires in us new hope. It is in reaching out our hand in love to one whom others avoid that hope breaks us open for grace to find a home. Beneath lowly forms God makes Himself known.
Each Sunday, as Communions are administered, I kneel in my stall. This morning I was powerfully struck that I was kneeling before the Christ at the Altar and I was also kneeling before the Body of the Faithful who came by one by one. The Christ before whom we kneel would, I think, welcome us kneeling before one another on occasion as we see within each other grace swelling and shining forth.
In our parish conversation, one of our most dedicated volunteers, related that hers is a ministry of small things. She provides newspapers to the women who stay with us on Monday nights. She hands out aspirin, makes coffee, folds pillowcases, and more. She also mentioned one powerful act of love (which she would not claim as such).
She talked of rubbing lotion onto the feet of the women – many of whom are on their feet all day long. I couldn’t help but be transported back to the moments when costly oil was being rubbed on the feet of Jesus. I could not help but think of the complaints of the money about to be spent on “expensive” housing for the homeless – a waste surely?
So often, the eyes of faith see a chance for love where others only see a need to be met and in those moments, adoration begets adoration, and love begets love.
As Saint John’s embarks on this partnership, we are announcing to the congregation, the city, and the diocese that we place our ministry with those most in need at the very heart of our congregation’s life and witness. It is at much at the center of our life as the Tabernacle. This project will announce that something crucial and life-changing is happening here at Saint John’s. Something glorious is happening in the heart of the city and in our hearts.
Saint John’s Cathedral is physically a large building. By its presence, it symbolizes both the glory of God and of the Church. The money and talents expended on the building are a tangible manifestation of our longing to honor God and to meet God in the beauty of holiness. By consecrating part of our property for ministry with the homeless we are meeting Christ in another way –in a way that is as beautiful as our worship.
Nothing will give me greater joy in ministry here than elevating the Host at Mass and looking just past it and seeing, through the Cathedral’s open doors, a project rise that will mirror the action at the Altar. The Body will be held with love and will be Present among us in the way it always is – changing and challenging those who see with faithful eyes.