Saturday, December 25, 2010

Midnight Mass

Chritsmas Eve Midnight Mass is always an interesting one for me.  In my experience, it's rarely at midnight and it's always one of the most heavily attended Masses of the year very frequently being standing room only.  I think it's because in addition to the normal parishioners, there is an additional combination of first time visitors, old parishioners who have been away temporarily or permanently (like in college or working somewhere else), and then all the C.E.O. (Christmas and Easter Only) Catholics come out as well. 

I don't know about you, but for me, I always have a hard time focusing on the liturgy during Christmas Eve Mass.  I tend to find myself looking around at all the people getting distracted by all the new faces and the old familiar ones.  I find myself wondering what old friends who have been away are up to now, but at the same time also totally judging the college kids who I know have gone wild (via Facebook) and those folks that clearly haven't been to Mass in ages and can barely remember what to do. 

Yikes, it gets pretty nasty up there.

This year, I'm spending the holidays with the in-laws who are out-of-state and Protestant.  My wife and I attended "Midnight Mass" (at 5PM) at the local parish where we go whenever we are back.  The children's choir was leading the music which was cute and all, but some of the logistics didn't seem thought through which led to some distractingly bad liturgy (think lots of socializing during the Offering of the Gifts with no music).  In addition, I had a hard time not noticing the large three generation family in front of us who were passing out mentos to each other (adults included) during Mass and laughing to each other during the consecration. 

As I tried to pray, I couldn't help but ask full of judgmental, sarcastic incredulity, "Jesus, we're waiting in 'joyful hope' for you to come back to this <mentally gesturing to all of the things I saw was wrong>?!"

My next thought fully aware of my own negative, hardened heart and becoming so awestruck at the sheer craziness of it all, "Wow.  Jesus, you came into the world for this?  You came into the world for me?"

I guess all of that brokenness is exactly why God sent Jesus for.  I knew that.  But I'm still not done knowing that.

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