I always liked the aliens on The Simpsons. The drooling one-eyed monsters with glass bubble helmets that continually laugh at humanity’s ineptitude. Can you blame them for laughing; they’re watching Homer Simpson after all.
This gives me to wonder, though, if they were watching me, what would they see?
If I were being observed by Martians, what would they hear me say? What would my day-to-day actions tell these extra-terrestrials about who I am and what I believe? If an outsider’s only glimpse of my life was during Sunday Mass, would they know I was in the presence of the most sacred; the Real Presence?
Believe it or not, this notion is not as far fetched as it may seem. It may not be aliens, but we are being watched. As Catholics, and more so as practicing Catholics, we are held to a higher standard; and much of the world is watching, either waiting for us to trip up, or, more hopefully, waiting and wanting to follow our lead.
This was made very evident to me at the Easer Vigil this year. Since I had helped out a couple of times with the RCIA classes, I was fortunate enough to get to know the catechumens entering the Church. I was flattered when one of them asked me to stand in for his absent sponsor, but I was even more floored by the comments another catechumen made to me at the reception afterwards. I was told that although this new friend had learned a lot about the faith from our conversations, it was from watching me at Mass that he had learned about the sacred.
It was then that I realized that it wasn’t in talking about Christ that we lead others to Him (though it can help); it’s by being a witness to His love and loving Him back. A deep genuflect entering the pew, saying a prayerful hello. A deep bow of reverence before receiving Communion. Taking time with a reading to pronounce the Word of God, not just racing through. Adoring Christ in the Tabernacle as though my life depended on it, because it does.
Other little encounters have reminded me that this reverence of the sacred, witnessing my life in Christ, goes beyond Mass.
Recently at the pharmacy the cashier commented, “Don’t I know you from 9am Mass?” After I explained that 9am on Sunday morning was way too early for my family to get to Mass, we exchanged a quick yet pleasant conversation. Imagine the image I would have given her as an involved-Catholic (lector and extra-ordinary minister of the Eucharist), had I been grumpy, surly or if my purchase had been less than moral.
On another occasion I met up with a young dad at the park. I could tell this guy was looking for his kids and their home-daycare group. I asked who he was looking for, realized they were the kids that my son and I had just asked to join our soccer game the other day. Knowing the boys’ sitter, I directed him to another neighbourhood park where I knew they would be playing. Once more there was the conversation on recognition from Church, and once more I realized the importance of having taken the time to include these kids in our game and to help another dad out.
It may not be aliens, dear Theophilous, but we are being watched. Whether it’s at Mass, at the store or at the park, others are watching to see what we treat as sacred, waiting and wanting to follow us to Christ. Since we are the Body of Christ, a high standard has been set for us in Christ, a high standard that we have been called to live up to, a high standard we can help others to achieve through our witness.