Issue Date: January 7, 2005
By TOM JABLONSKI
During the childrens Mass at my daughters school, I sat and listened to the priests sermon. It frustrated me. God allowed his son to be crucified, he said, to save our souls and then we would have eternal life in heaven. These words directed at the children troubled me.
I believe that what is important about Jesus life is his teachings, how he lived, and that he died because of how he lived. To focus on Christ as a ticket to the afterlife, makes our current life meaningless. What is important is how we live our lives now, not where we go once we die, or why we go where we go.
As the Mass ran on I noticed a box elder beetle walking across the top of the pew in front of me. The beetle walked to the other end of the pew, and then turned around and walked back. When it got directly in front of me it stopped. I wondered what this meant, and concluded that if nothing else, it was a good reminder of the beauty of creation; it was neat to watch this creature walking along the pew.
The beetle returned to the other end of the pew, and again turned around and started walking back toward me. I got up and went to Communion, and returned to find that the beetle had again stopped in front of me. I was looking for an excuse to get out of church, so I took this second stopping as a sign that the beetle wanted me to carry it outside.
I gently put the beetle in the palm of my hand, curled my fingers around it and got up and walked out of church. Once outside, I opened my hand to let the beetle go. I was disappointed to find that it was gone; I must have dropped it somewhere along the way.
Spiritless messages, spirit-filled creature. Six legs crawling, long winded drawling. Sacramental obligations, enjoyable distractions. Meaningless words and an empty hand.
Tom Jablonski of Blaine, Minn., is writing a book, Reflections from the Places I Am.
National Catholic Reporter, January 7, 2005
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