HOMILY & IDEAS

Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; Romans 13:8-9; Matthew 18:15-20

When I was in my late teens I sang in my church choir in Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Spencer, Massachusetts. We were about 25 members in all and I remember us being the biggest and most wonderful cast of characters youÕve ever seen assembled. We were different shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities but we all loved to sing and we made a beautiful noise.

I spent a number of years in that choir loft. In fact, every time I attended Mass during those years I was in the choir loft with a birdseye view of all the goings on. You knew where the same people would sit week after week. You would notice if they were missing or on vacation. You could see those who were reading the bulletin during the homily -- which never happens here, thank God! You could see young siblings get separated by their parents because they were either fighting with one another, or having a little bit too much fun. During Midnight Mass and Easter morning you would see a colorful and wonderful wall to wall sea of people.

I was thinking about my days in the choir this past week because I was thinking about the power of prayer when a community comes together and prays; for in the Gospel this week is reads -- If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

My favorite image of this power was experienced at the Easter Vigil each year. All the lights would go out in the Church one by one. Until all the lights were off except up in the choir loft. Then we would turn our overhead light out, and the organist would turn out her light which illuminated the sheet music and finally we would be in complete darkness.

Slowly the deacon would bring in the Paschal Candle chanting -- Christ our Light -- until he reached the front of the Church and then from the best view in the Church I would watch this flame get spread down the pews and aisles from candle to candle, and in a matter of moments the entire church would be bright enough to illuminate the ribbing of the high vaulted ceilings in this massive, gothic structure.

I loved that moment. It was powerful. One could see the power of community. The power of our individual lights united. The power of prayer.

I guess this is the image that I have carried around with me all of these years illustrating the power of community prayer. I believe in it as clearly as I could see the hundreds of candles illuminating a once dark church.

And, yesterday when I picked up the morning paper and read the headlines that a mid-East peace plan had been agreed upon, I said -- thank you, God, for listening to the prayers that this community has been praying every morning. Thank you for answering our powerful prayer prayed as a community.

Now all these years later I get a similar view of things from the choir loft as a Priest presiding -- but now I am in the front of the Church. And there are times that I wish you and I could trade places for a moment so you could see what I see. It is a beautiful and powerful sight.

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