I was on an airplane recently near two women who were sitting next to each other but traveling separately. A little into the flight, they began chatting. In the middle of the two hour + trip, one of them opened her purse and pulled out a series of pictures. The pictures were of her family. She brimmed with pride as she showed off her children and grandchildren and shared stories of their lives. The pictures and the stories helped the other woman to know a little about the person sitting next to her. Their mutual exchange began a friendship. But the irony was, the two weren’t originally booked to sit next to one another. One of the women gave up her aisle seat so that a married couple could sit next to each other and therefore ended up sitting in the middle seat in another row.
Like the story above, all kinds of circumstances will seat new faces next to us at our parish on Sundays. Some visitors may be Catholic while others may be from another faith tradition and still others just searching. The liturgy is the church’s way of opening its theological purse, offering pictures of who we are as Catholic Christians. We pray what we believe, and so everything we say and do in the liturgy tells others who we are. Our prayers and our songs, every word, gesture, symbol and ritual gives others a snapshot of what and perhaps more important, who we hold dear. Like the woman on the plane who opened her purse to share the gift of her pictures, let us pray for the grace to open our hearts so that we may share the gifts of our prayer and our faith with others.
O Lord, may our liturgical prayer be deep and passionate. AMEN.