Joy is like a river! I keep hearing the Alleluias sing under the buzz of the world. Yes, I know that evil exists in this world; I have witnessed it and been victimized by it. The institutional Church has been part of it. But, I return to the Church, the People of God, far wiser than when I left it. No Stockholm Syndrome here; if you think there is, you haven't a clue about who I am.
At almost 47, I am simply able to live with the paradoxes. I can live with things that are grey; naturally they are also tinged with purple, orange, torquoise, red, electric blue and green! Change is the only constant; I am at home with that.
To me, if we don't "go and receive our mission" (the real meaning of the words at the end of the Mass) and go out and make for justice and peace, our time in church is a farce. To be able to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, we have to be able to be the Body and Blood of Christ to the poor and the marginalized. We have to get lost in serving others in order to find ourselves, to paraphrase Gandhi. We have to both feed the hungry and find out why they are hungry; comfort the oppressed and ask why others are putting them down. We need both to celebrate the Mass and to ask the questions that make for justice!
We need to realize, too, that "the energy of Mass is equal to our willingness to empty our egos" (Why Stay Catholic: Unexpected Answers to a Life-Changing Question, Michael Leach, 97). By emptying ourselves, we allow God to fill us and move us. We become as Christ.
Christ's emerging--incarnation--shows us that matter, matters. We need always to thank God for creation because it reflects God's light and love; it sings God's song. If we look closely enough, we can learn a lot about God by being silent and observing.
Francis referred to "Brother Sun" and "Sister Moon" and even, "Sister Death." None of these things is God, but they all point to God. He saw that we are all interconnected. Whether it was the leper he kissed or the birds to whom he preached when the people wouldn't listen, Francis knew that all creation gives glory to God. We can do no less.