After a one-two punch of insensitive infertility related experiences, followed up with a homily focusing on how all things are possible with God in which my head was in total agreement, but my heart just wasn't there, I was pretty much ready to fall apart as I went to communion at Mass this morning.
Then, two things happened to lift my mood and remind me that it really is Christ who makes things new and on whom I need to lean. First, our parish uses extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion every week - we have one priest and a huge parish, not ideal, but it's what we do. Now, some of these EMHC are awesome and very reverent. Others, not so much. Today however, both the EMHC for the host and the cup were both two of the awesome, reverent ones. I breathed a sign of relief as I headed to communion.
But really, it was the second thing that reminded me that all things are possible through Christ and that, no matter how it may feel, He will never leave us. I was in line to receive the Precious Blood and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man in the line beside me bow and receive the Precious Blood with such reverence I was struck by it and I visibly smiled.
And then I realized, it was The Man.
For whatever reason, our line is always a little slow and it's not uncommon for some of us to step over to the other line to avoid a back-up. Well, regardless of how we sit, The Man is always behind me because he always lets me go in front of him when we step out of our pew (an awesome, gentlemanly thing he learned from my Pap). Because of this, I never actually see The Man receive Holy Communion, I am always in front of him. When I realized it was The Man I had seen receive Our Lord with such reverence, it changed my whole perspective.
Suddenly, my heart heard and understood what our priest had been speaking about in his homily. Suddenly, the one-two punch didn't sting anymore. And instead, I realized that all things are possible through Christ. And that yes, he opened the ears of the deaf man and made him able to speak, but it was in His words that the Truth really lies - "Ephphatha!" ("Be opened!").
Do I believe that the Lord can cure our infertility? Yes.
Do I believe all things are possible with Jesus? Yes.
But it's not the cure or the answer that is what Jesus asks of us. And when He made the deaf man able to hear, He didn't say "I've answered your prayers and made you able to hear." No, he said "be opened." And in watching The Man, especially without realizing it was him, receive communion with such reverence reminded me that we have already received this miracle. No, we are not perfect and we have much to learn both in this life and as we are purified to meet our Lord in the next. But we have already received the miracle of being opened by Christ to His will and work in our lives. And together, through this beautiful sacrament of marriage, we are continually opening ourselves to Christ in our lives. Whether it's in our intimate relationship as we physically renew our spoken vows or in the day to day ways we serve one another, it's all because of Jesus. And through Jesus, all things are possible.
I had not told The Man about these experiences (I try not to dump on him too much, he has his own pain), but I realized that I had to. I had to tell him, because I had to thank him. I had to thank him for loving Jesus more than he loves me, for having reverence for Our Lord, and for inviting Jesus into our lives. As I did, and before I told him the "rest of the story", and the tears streamed down my cheeks and he agreed that I was right to be hurt, I saw the tears fill his eyes. And, in that moment, I knew that this experience was just as much a gift to The Man as it was to me today. As I finished the story, with my communion experience, I saw the same realization cross The Man's face as had crossed mine, that it is because of Christ we will make it through this. That through our baptism, we were both given the same gift the deaf man of today's gospel was given, and in fact this same prayer "ephphata" was prayed over us at our baptism. It is in our openness that we embrace the pain and find hope in the promise of resurrection.