As we enter any church in our parishes — any Catholic church in the world — Jesus is there: waiting for us; waiting for us with the greatest love the world has known. The Crucified and Risen Jesus, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament in each tabernacle, awaits us with an everlasting love.
He is “Emmanuel” (“God-with-us” — Mt 1:23). Jesus is present, with a most patient, healing and merciful love. He is truly present wherever the Eucharist is celebrated — anywhere on our planet. He is present when “two or three gather in his name” (see Mt 18:20). His love and salvation encompasses the entire world: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).
There are no qualifications on “world” for God’s love is all-encompassing, embracing all peoples in His Son Jesus. He is Lord of all nations: “The world and all that is in it belong to the LORD; the earth and all who live on it are his” (Ps 24:1). So Jesus waits for us — for each opening of a church door, for each gathering in prayer, for each time we open the Bible (“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ,” says Saint Jerome). And so Jesus waits for us — in our response of faith and love or, perhaps, even when we lack faith and love. And so Jesus, present everywhere in the world, most especially in the Most Blessed Sacrament as well as in our prayer gatherings and in his Word, waits for us: black, brown or white; rich or poor; young or old; married, single, separated or divorced; native or migrant; educated or illiterate; man or woman; healthy, addicted, sick, or differently-abled (disabled); straight, gay, or otherwise; saint or sinner; as saints who have sinned or as sinners striving to be saintly. Jesus is ever-present: he waits; he loves. And in his love, perhaps, we change and grow and see each other as brother or sister. With Jesus lovingly present everywhere, there is always a welcoming embrace, there is always room: “Let your hearts not be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms…” (Jn 14:1-2). Jesus’ everlasting love and omnipresence speak loudly and clearly — all are loved and welcomed. Yet, in his everlasting love and mercy, there is no room for hatred, racism, discrimination, racial supremacy or division. There’s no room for violence against the pre-born or born, abuse, insults, vengeance, human trafficking or human slavery. There’s no room for the violence and hatred of Charlottesville and elsewhere in our nation and world. Jesus is ever-present, everywhere! He waits. He embraces all in love and mercy. There’s room for the sinner, but not for the sin.
He makes no distinctions nor excludes anybody.
Father Matthew Weber is pastor of Holy Cross Parish, Bridgeton.