This past Sunday, I was one of the millions of people waiting in line to see the Pope. Yes, that’s right. I was in Philadelphia, trying to make it into the Papal Mass. We were given tickets as a last minute surprise and took the trolley into town and rushed over to one of the security checkpoints. Everything was excitement and anticipation. For me… and for thousands of others who were in front of me in line… and behind me in line.
It became very clear, very fast, that this line was not moving…. really at all. Mass was starting in 2 hours. We moved half of a street length in half an hour. We needed to move a block and a half. The math wasn’t looking good.
Early on during my standing in line session, I had a little talk with Jesus. I told Him, “Alright Jesus, you know I desire to make it into this Mass, but I want what You want for me. So if that doesn’t happen, that’s ok. I’m going to stand in this line and be hopeful, but if I don’t make it in there, that’s what you want for me and I’ll take whatever you give.”
And then I stood hopeful.
And then we waited. And waited.For over 4 hours. And we never made it into the Mass.
I don’t say this to whine or complain, I just say this to state the reality of what happened. Was I disappointed? Yes. But, I know that experience was exactly what God desired me to have.
While standing in that line, I met people from many different places, some were Catholic, some were not, but all of us desired to see the Pope, to participate in the Mass. And we were there together, not able to speed up the line at all, but we were all hopeful, moving forward together.
We are called to press on towards Him, deeper into His love, into the communion of love He has in store for us.
I think that’s a lot like our lives. We’re all pressing on towards heaven, where we hope to be someday. Things get messy and chaotic and disorganized, but we keep going, knowing that in some small way, with God’s grace, we’re helping others draw closer to Jesus, deeper into the heart of His Church.
There was no despair as we waited in that line together, which was truly something beautiful. We sang songs together, offered the sign of peace to one another, stood in solidarity together. And even at the end, when we parted ways, not having made it into the celebration, we all still had something to leave with. We found community and support in each other. We found joy in the midst of disappointment. We found hope and lived out hope together.
That is the hope that we offer to those around us, the hope we offer to the world, that even in the midst of unfortunate circumstances, or things taking place outside of our control – there is always hope in Jesus. We are called to press on towards Him, deeper into His love, into the communion of love He has in store for us.
Who in your life needs to be reminded of that hope? Who do you know that needs to see anew the great love God has for every human person, a love that knows no bounds and longs to be present in even the most broken and dark of places? How can you be a witness to God’s love for them? How can you bring hope?