By: Rick Hernandez
Every day, sitting at my desk, I welcome the afternoon sun that tells me that the day is progressing. My desk is placed in such a way that the afternoon sunlight comes through, at just the right angle, so that sometimes I am bathed in light.
There is a particular awareness that comes from being shined upon. It sharpens the way things look. At that very moment, the gentle strength of the light rays is but a gift for me. I am reminded to give thanks for the light!
One day a ray of light shone from the edge of my desk in such a way that, in my memory, I was transported back to an experience of my years as an altar server.
I was really young but remembered being trained to serve under my parish pastor. My main job was to assist with the preparation of the altar and then ring the bells during Consecration. Father was a good man, a gentle soul, and a good priest. He was always kind to us getting trained as altar servers.
I have to say that anybody who saw me back then knew that I just could not stay put for too long. Curiosity for the world and its wonders was ever-present in me, and I would get distracted easily. Many simple things used to catch my eye; it was part of my personality.
Obviously, this trait of mine was not an asset when I was serving at Mass; Father had to gently motion to me every time I was about to miss my cue. What a loving, gentle, and fatherly priest he was to me… But my lack of focus was a problem, and he had to address it.
“Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others…” (Colossians 3:23)
One day Father sat me down before Mass and said:
“Child, you have the spark of life and are ever curious. That is a gift given to you.
That day at Mass, I prayed for the gift of presence. I tried my hardest to be there fully. How could I not after Father so lovingly explained what my presence there was for? I was gifted that day with the ability to concentrate, to be able to see everything in sharp detail, to perfectly listen to every word.
When the time of Consecration came, I was on my knees looking up at the altar and listening to the words: “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you”… and at that moment, light from the upper windows shone through, caught the edge of the altar and bathed our Lord Eucharistic in light!
“See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19).
In an instant, recognition. I realized at that moment why my job was important, and I rang that bell confidently and full of zeal. In my heart, I knew that I was announcing that He was there, fully present. This was it, the light telling every eye, the bell telling every ear, His love telling every heart.
That bell ringing called us to be there present with Him IN the moment, to adore Him, to bring our sufferings and unite them to Him who died and rose for us…. to be there for Him who, for us, conquered death… to be there for Him who, for us, became bread and wine. What an honor it was to announce all this, to have been for that fleeting moment, the ringing bell of recognition.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
At every Mass, the word “Behold” is said, and Christ Eucharistic is raised. In the great humility of Christ, the Son of God is once again as forever, the Lamb of God, our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer. He is food for the journey, sustenance for life, true life. And when we partake of Communion, that most intimate act of union is a perfect showing of Love, Faith, and Hope.
We must hear it still, that call to all of us, “Can’t you see? This is important. Pay attention!” Behold! Let us recognize Him. He recognizes us.
Let us pray: Lord, may we be ever attentive to the promptings of your love and mercy. Help us to recognize your guiding hand in all things. Please, let your light shine on us as it ever shines on You. Amen.
Image by By Imgorthand at Canva