Easter Mass

The Mexican Priest made everyone stand

and say, “Happy Easter,” to each person nearby.

He said it was a way to make Easter a celebration,

an act of friendship and love.

He was a happy man.

We were surprised when he left

before the Mass ended.

It was like a handshake taken back.

When he left the Monsignor came.

The Monsignor was the man in charge,

steeped in the canons, white-haired

from years of hearing sins.

He was old-church and righteous,

but kind enough to warn us that

his words would be hard to swallow.

He said, “The sometime-believers and yearly-comers

would not like what he had to say. The sacraments

were for the worthy, those who had confessed their sins

and attended Mass regularly. No one should come to

the Easter Feast unworthy to receive it.”

This canonical man had touched

a cord with several of us sinners.

We looked at each other and I thought:

“Is this not the time when all are called to Supper,

the worthy and the unworthy alike?

Are not the followers of Jesus nobodies,

beggars, the unworthy in every way?”

Not to come was like a strange separation

that shows the forms of things

but no feeling for people’s lives.

I don’t think the story goes:

“When two or three hundred are gathered together in my name

there I shall be also in the church with the stained glass windows,

the pipe organ, the high ceiling, and the trained choir.”

Nor: “Go and sell all that you have and give the money to the

usher who will take it to the priest, who will pay the bank

and the monopolies and give a little to United Way.”

Nor: “Observe the lilies of the field and buy clothes to

imitate their beauty and wear them to the church

with the stained glass windows to show respect for me

and my edifices.”

Nor: “If a man should ask you for your coat give him

advice about Spring white sales

and savings and buying irregulars that can be altered.”

None of this was written.

All that happened was that the Monsignor dwelt on being worthy

and the Mexican Priest didn’t come back

and some people left right after Communion,

which the Monsignor gave to them anyway.

They should have stayed.

They could have cleaned the windows

and made the bank deposit

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