What each person also got was a sacrament. The sacraments, remember, are a physical means of grace. They got a pat on the back, a quiet word, a smile, a gently hug, a bit of encouragement from another human being: Jesus in the form of a priest.
The ordinariness of this sacrament is therefore a most beautiful and simple thing. God coming to us in the form of Jesus in that priest. So I looked around at my fellow priests. They were there with me for over two hours. They were patient and kind. They were attentive and listening. I spotted one fellow wiping his brow. It’s hard work. I saw another check his watch. “Yes, you really have been here for over an hour and the lines are still long.”
An attendant sidled up and asked if I needed a bottle of water. I said, “Could I have a bottle of whiskey instead?”
They heard me and laughter all around.
So this is not the gloomy, dark and guilt ridden sacrament lapsed Catholics so often complain about. This was God’s people meeting God together.
For remember grace is given. Grace is given not only for forgiveness, but for the power to overcome the sin. Grace is given that we might move ever upward to “grow up into the full humanity of Jesus Christ.”
This was heaven come down to earth with forgiveness in its wings.
This was children talking to their Fathers.
This was prodigal sons and daughters on the journey home.