Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In God, There Is No Distance

When I was a seminarian, a priest from Korea came and did a sabbatical at our seminary.  His name was Fr. Lazarus You--later to become a bishop in Korea.  You couldn't spend ten seconds with Fr. You (whose name was the cause for many grammar type jokes) without smiling.  He exuded joy.

I haven't seen or talked to Fr. You in fifteen years.  The last time I spoke with him was in the hours leading up to my ordination to the priesthood.  To my surprise, he called me from Korea and told me that he wished he could be with me on the day of my ordination, but that was not possible.  He said that he would remember me that day during the Holy Mass and he said something that I've always remembered (and stolen!).  He said, "And as we know, in God there is no distance."

Yesterday morning, a gentleman called the rectory and told the person who answered the phone that his wife reads this blog every day and that she is currently in hospice care.  He asked if it were possible for me to come pay her a visit.  Since she is one of my few readers, how could I say no?!  The Internet is an amazing thing in so many ways.  Persons who might never hear of one another or who might never know one another can be brought together through the medium of the Internet.  Because of the medium of the Internet, I had the privilege of going to her bedside, praying with her and her husband, listening to her renew her baptismal promises, and witnessing the beautiful faith of this married couple.

But, as great as the Internet is, it is only the "this" World Wide Web.  We don't receive status updates from those who have gone to the grave.  Death reveals the limits of the Internet.  In the Internet, there is distance.  And, even if God had a Facebook page and posted daily about how he was doing, we would still experience the infinite distance that exists between Him and us.  God bridges the infinite distance between him and us not by impersonal status updates, but by giving us his Son.  In the person of Jesus Christ, God and man meet.

I was really touched by the gracious and enthusiastic welcome I received from this couple at the hospice, but as soon as I mentioned that I had brought the Blessed Sacrament with me, the focus immediately turned to the presence of the Lord.  In the Eucharist, we become one with Christ and we become one in Christ.  Death always brings about separation.  It separates body from soul and separates the deceased from their loved ones.  But, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, the Eucharist is the antidote for death.  When we receive the Eucharist, we are already being prepared for the Resurrection of the Dead when our souls will be reunited with our bodies.  In the Eucharist, the separation that exists between God and man is bridged.  And as the preface of the Holy Mass reminds us, in the Eucharist earth unites to heaven.  In every Mass, we pray for the Pope and the bishop--thus binding us closer to the whole pilgrim Church.  In every Mass, we pray for the dead, binding us closer to the souls in Purgatory.  In every Mass, we invoke the Saints, binding us closer to the Church in Heaven. 

Yes, in the Eucharist we experience the truth that in God there is no distance.  I am sorrowful that this beautiful couple and their family will soon experience the pain and sorrow that death brings.  But, having spent a brief time with them, I am edified by their beautiful faith.  And in those few moments of prayer and Eucharistic Communion, I was able to witness the victory of Christ over sin and death.  Already, the antidote is at work.  Already, the old order is passing away and the new order of grace is building the new creation.  Where O Death is your sting?  Where O grave is your victory?  Christ has conquered death and is making all things new.  In God, there is no distance.


  1. absolutely beautiful!
    Thank you for sharing this gift.

  2. Dear Father Barnes,
    Thank you for the visit you made to my brother/sister-in-law, Terry and Phil yesterday. Terry is an amazing wife, mother, sister and daughter. Her devotion to God,religion and her loving family is where her strength comes from. I have been praying daily to St. Jude, patron St. of hopeless cases, to help Therese during this critical time in her life. I am praying for a miracle in whatever form it may be. Therese is needed here to continue God's will on earth, which she does so beautifully. Again, Father, your visit to Phil and Therese was greatly appreciated by them.
    Thank you so very much.