Pictures from Juanita’s and my trip to Italy eleven years ago rotate as the background on my computer. They are reminders of a two-week trip during which we visited four cities and surrounding areas, went through numerous churches, saw all sorts of ancient sites, and had wonderful meals. Scratch that: we had phenomenal meals!
The other day I just watched for a several minutes as the images changed from one to another, bringing back memories of that trip of a lifetime. There were pictures of the Colosseum, the Duomo in Florence, the towers of the walled city of San Gimignano, and the family name (mother’s side of course) on brass plates attached to the pews of a small church in Sessano del Molise (population 871).
In the time since our visit, Facebook has exploded! We can now keep up on those sites in Italy, including Sessano, via the Internet. Recently this small village from where my maternal great-grandfather immigrated in 1901 installed a web cam. I can now view the town square where Juanita and I had an espresso while translating a copy of my great grandfather’s birth record from 1877. Google Maps allows me to even travel the roads we drove, looking at the street view of places we stayed, where we dined, and where we visited.
But as great as the technology is, be it the hundreds of digital pictures we took, or Facebook, or Google Maps, it isn’t the same as being there. Online doesn’t allow me to walk into a pizza place and buy a fresh slice of the best pizza in the world. Online doesn’t allow me to enjoy a gelato while across the street at the Basilica of St. Mary Maggiore all lit up at night. If I want the real deal, I’ve got to be in Italy!
The same holds true for the Holy Mass. Yes there are legitimate reasons for not attending Mass in person. The livestream Mass is a wonderful thing for the homebound. I also know my out-of-state relatives have taken advantage of this technology to watch me serve at Mass. But as great as the technology is, it isn’t the same as being there. You can’t get the “smells and bells” of Mass through the livestream. Most importantly though, you can’t physically receive and consume the Holy Eucharist via livestream.
In the Gospel today we hear of crowds following Jesus to be near him. We hear the familiar story of the woman with the hemorrhage who believed she would be healed by touching Jesus’ clothes. We also hear how Jesus brought the daughter of a synagogue official back to life when he took the child by the hand.
Through the Holy Mass we too have the opportunity to be near Jesus. Through the Holy Eucharist we too can touch and be touched by the Real Presence of Jesus. Through this contact with Jesus, our sins can be healed. Our spiritual life can be restored. Mass offers us the Real (Deal) Presence. See you there!
In the peace of Christ,