Mass at Sacred Heart Church is a genuine joy. The tiny French Mission Church in the Washington Heights neighborhood east of Morgan Park on the south side of Chicago cradles a crowd of devout, humble and interesting Catholics.
At the 8:30 a.m. Sunday Mass Irish baritone Terry McEldowney rattles the stained glass widows and Aves with his inimitable -"Hey, Midget! ( Terry's sobriquet for the author of these lines) Good to see your dwarfish hide darkening the Lord's Banquet,Son!" and Vales the crowd out with America the Beautiful. At 10;30 a.m. Mass I get to run into John Sheehan and Jerry and Kathy Schumacher and the post Eucharistic giggles out on Church Street.
The celebrants tend to be retired Maryknoll or Archdiocese of Chicago priests and one of the best of the homilists is Father Edward McKenna.
Yesterday's treat was a tour de force commentary on The Gospel of John -
John 6: 60 - 69
60 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?"
61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this?
62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
64 But there are some of you that do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him.
65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."
66 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.
67 Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?"
68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;
69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
Father McKenna noted the Jewish quality of Questions and the Responsorial Questions, summed up in the exchange with Peter -Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
Father McKenna reminded all of us that we pester our God, our neighbors and ourselves with questions demanding a final answer. As Catholics, we say we believe in the Resurrection - end of story. Christ invites us to joy and we look for certainty and the frustration of somehow having our 'Final Answers' like the Regis Philbin show. It is the questions answered by more questions that should lead us to living better lives.
The beauty of Judaisim lies in the endless questioning and self-examination. Judaism washes over the walls of bigots and the certain folks who want to get up a pogrom. You never hear of a Jew calling another Faith, 'a gutter religion.' Atheists have all the answers. Some Fundamentalists coreligionists have the answers and too many of us Catholics demand final answers.
Father McKenna reminded us at Sacred Heart that through Faith one gets no empirical answers, but all the joy one should possess. That requires humility on our part and jerks like me tend to be too embarrassed to appear not to know something. It is tough to remember that "We Believe in One God & etc." - we got caught up in Life's minutiae and the quotidian care of the common place. If we KNEW we'd all be Lotto winners.
Thanks Father McKenna!