Someone I follow on Instagram recently captioned a photo with, “Isn’t that just like the present, to be showing up here like this.” As someone who is forward-focused, that struck me, so much so that I’ve been repeating it almost daily when anything slightly impactful happens. When I run into someone I know, when I see a cute dog, when the barista blesses me with a free coffee, when I share a meaningful conversation with someone I love, I am reminded that it is just like the present to be showing up like this.
Then I went to Mass on Sunday. Imagine sitting in the second-to-last pew of the most ornate church you’ll see in the Midwest, listening to the priest speak softly. There’s a family five rows in front of me, with four children, all under the age of 10. Two of the children have little clips in their hair with a green light on them, their hearing aids. These two are around 4 and 6 years old and they are babbling up a storm, with coos and sentences that don’t make sense but you can tell are very important to them and need to be said.
Their little voices got louder and louder, while any attempt for their parents to shush them wasn’t working. How do you tell a baby that doesn’t know he’s being loud to be quiet? The girl (who was older) was having an especially hard time accepting the fact that she wasn’t allowed to speak. She cried and screamed, and her dad scooped her up and took her into the back to soothe her. This upset her brother who also started to scream, his mother responding by cuddling him until he was quiet.
This all happened so fast, yet at the same time with so much gentleness and love. Each parent had to silently communicate who was going to help which child. They were working as a team. As I watched this unfold, I was thinking that these parents could never have imagined being blessed with such sweet, rambunctious babies. Now, I’m sure going to Mass isn’t always easy for their family. I doubt they imagined this would become their Sunday routine, that they’d have to quickly adapt to a life of silent communication, and swaddling crying children who just want to be heard and can’t understand that they’re coming in loud and clear.
Then I thought, “Isn’t it just like love to be showing up here like that?” I had to snap out of it because it was time to kneel for the Sanctus. But then it came back. I looked up at the priest, who has had to make some hard decisions that impact two parishes and I thought, “Isn’t that just like love?” The server rang the bells and, before I bowed my head, I looked directly at the Eucharist and thought, “Isn’t that just like Love?”
As a millennial, I’m scared of my vocation, but this family with the sacrifice of the Mass in the “background” was a testament that love does not just think (and overthink), love acts.
One of my best friend’s gave a homily to a group of campus ministers recently and he said, “Love leads us to foolishness, and it is so freeing to be a fool for the one you love.” Which makes sense. Those who love the most, who love the purest, seem like fools to the world. Jesus seemed like a fool to the world, big families seem like fools to the world, priests and religious seem like fools to the world. But if looking like a fool gets us even a tiny percentage of the love radiating off that family at Mass, then we should run towards love.
Love casts out all fear. Run to love. It is acting and moving, and it is foolishness to accept anything less.