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The trouble with God is not that God is too far to be known but too near to be seen. Think of it, the faces you and I see least are our own. In truth, I have never seen my face; I’ve only caught sight of reflections. Sometimes intimacy is what makes for invisibility. That is why human beings need specific sites of transparency which make visible what is present everywhere. These sites might be “thin places,” particular locales transparent to the grandeur of God, or particular objects such as the sacraments.  

It has not yet been a year since my ordination to the priesthood. Presiding before the mysteries still feels very new. I cannot convey to you, dear reader, the sense of sacrality I feel as I stand before the sacrament. Now, to be clear, I do not feel that the bread and wine are somehow holier after I’ve said, “May this be for us the body of our Lord Jesus Christ” than before. I do believe in faith in the real presence of Christ in the sacraments and within the worshipping community. But I am not so interested in trying to explain how that happens. I think what the Holy Spirit does might be to open our eyes to register and recognize that God has always already been here within us, with us, and between us.   

But—and perhaps this is not the sort of thing priests should fess up to—where I feel God even more intensely than the sacrament is in the open hands of those who receive it. When you come before me with hands open, or curved with just enough room for me to drop some bread into the hollow of your hand, when you come with your hearts open, in your sacred and undefended vulnerability, that, that is where I most keenly feel the presence of the Crucified. Just for that moment, when you and I refuse to pretend that we have it all together, that we are adequate solo to face up to the demands of life, that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, the classic capitalist lie, just then we become icons of divinity. I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to see the radiance on your faces when you come before me. It is an unspeakable holiness.


1 Peter 2.5-9

You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.