I was sitting in church waiting for a Sunday Catholic Mass to begin. Catholic churches have a large crucifix with a corpus of Jesus Christ above or behind the altar. With the image of the crucified Christ in my eyes, I spoke to Him about all the troubles of our current times. Then I implored Him in earnest to remember His promise that He would come again -- and to come down from the Cross and save us.
I let myself daydream. I imagined the corpus of Christ on the crucifix coming to life, stepping down, and appearing in a robe, with his hair braided in the First Century Jewish style. At the time, I remembered scenes from the 1948 film One Touch of Venus and the 1987 film Mannequin where the statue/mannequin came to life, and the 1985 film The Purple Rose of Cairo where a character stepped out of a film into a theatre.
I imagined people being abuzz with a variety of emotions: unbelief, excitement, trepidation. The man’s first words to the congregation were “Don’t be afraid. Yes, it’s Me. I have long wanted to share this time with you.” He pointed to a woman toward the rear. Giving a short wave to her, He said, “Andrea, do not be troubled. Your mother is going to be okay.” We looked at each other, acknowledging that indeed it was the Lord and He knew each of us by name.
There was one young fellow who raised his voice and said, “It’s not Jesus!” Jesus walked toward him and asked him to come forward to meet Him. He said, “DeShone, please give me your hand and let Me guide it. He took DeShone’s hand and guided it . . . into the hole in His side.” DeShone turned pale and said, in a shallow, quivering voice, “I believe You, Jesus.” Then Jesus turned His head around to all of us saying, “Blessed are those who have not seen or touched or heard Me, but believe.”
Jesus walked among the people in the front pews, with their canes and wheelchairs, and said, “You, too, Alice, Carson, Wayne, will be okay, but to avoid commotion this morning, I won’t cure you now. Your cures will occur upon My departure. Also, there are those of you who have conditions that are not manifest physically--those with mental issues or couples experiencing infertility. You, too, will be cured upon My departure today.”
Jesus walked over to the pulpit. He looked around and asked the parents of young children to let the children come to Him there. He put His hands gently on each child – their head or their cheek – and smiled – His eyes to theirs.
Then He spoke, without reading from the book resting on the pulpit:
The Spirit of the Lord is on Me because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.
We spontaneously reacted with the same words we would use after a priest had proclaimed the Gospel with: “Praise be to You, Lord Jesus Christ!” He sat down on the chair our priest would ordinarily use. Our eyes were as transfixed on Him at that moment as the eyes of those in the synagogue at Nazareth must have been in the First Century. And it brought to my mind the same scene from Franco Zefferelli’s 1977 film Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus reading from scroll of Book of Isaiah at synagogue of Nazareth depicted in Jesus of Nazareth (Franco Zeffirelli 1977 film). Luke 4:18-19, 21.
Jesus turned to our priest and asked him, by name, to go and get a basin filled with lukewarm water and a half-dozen towels. He asked the altar servers, boys and girls, to sit down and remove their shoes. Our priest returned with the water and towels and then Jesus knelt down at each of the servers’ chairs, and bathed their feet, drying them with the towels. When He was finished, He arose and addressed us, saying, “You know that I did this for My apostles on the evening prior to My crucifixion. Do likewise. Be servants of one another.”
He returned to the altar and, raising His hands, said, “Would you pray with Me the prayer I gave My disciples to teach you?” And then He started,
- Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Then He asked our priest to give Him a gold cup, one Catholics call a ciborium, filled with unconsecrated wafers of bread. Like our priests would, He went to the people in the first pews, those with physical infirmities. As He held the wafer in front of them, He said, “This is My body, given for you.” It brought tears to their eyes and to all of our eyes. Then He asked the people to come up to receive Communion as they normally would, but just from Him. The first person to approach Him, knelt down and kissed His feet. Jesus gently asked the woman to stand. She did so, and put her tongue out to receive the consecrated wafer. Each person, in turn, did the same: knelt, kissed His feet, rose, and received, until all had received.
Jesus Giving Communion
Back in our pews, we were in communion with one another and with the Lord.
When there was no one else to receive Communion, Jesus went to the chair and sat in it for a few minutes. All eyes were on Him.
Then He stood up and said, looking at us:
- All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
He then disappeared and, at the same time, the corpus on the crucifix reappeared.
The people with infirmities in the front rows immediately stood up and . . . jumped! And kept jumping! The entire congregation cheered and cheered and cheered. Andrea received a phone call that her mother had been cured.
As we left the church, we told all of those coming for the next Mass. And we walked, even ran, through the surrounding neighborhoods, knocking on doors, telling people what we had seen and heard. “We are witnesses,” we said. It didn’t matter what language the residents spoke; they understood us.
After my daydream had ended, and the emotions I had felt during it had subsided, I came to the realization that nothing had happened that I, and those in the pews like me waiting for Mass to start, had not already known. But I experienced a renewed appreciation for the Mass. It prompted me, after Mass, to look up what Vatican II Council wrote the Mass:
- At the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us. (Vatican II’s document, Sacrosanctum Concilium 47).
Spero columnist James Thunder is an attorney who practices in the Washington DC metropolitan area.