One of the things that I do pretty well is remembering texts, especially hymns. I can remember verse after verse of most Catholic hymns (the good ones, anyways). Today, at the beginning of our daily Mass, I began singing one of the easiest hymns there is: "O Come O Come Emmanuel." I mean, everyone knows that one. It's like the national anthem of Advent.
I began the song and the fifteen or so students who were with me joined in. But, around the third line, it all just suddenly stopped. It was like all of us forgot the words at the same moment. So, I just started it again. And sure enough, we got to the same line and everyone faded out! But finally, one student softly sang the words we were forgetting and we all immediately remembered and went back to singing.
This small, comical event reminded me of something. It reminded me of why I need the Church and why the world needs the Church. Alone, we sometimes forget what is most important. Sometimes, caught up by our own anxieties and distractions, sins and failures, sorrows and pains, and responsibilities and efforts, we forget the greatest song ever written; the song of God's nearness. Emmanuel--God is with us. What could be more important, consoling, or life changing than this central truth of the Christian Faith--God is with us in the person of Christ Jesus? But alone, we can forget God's nearness.
This is why we need the Church, why we need each other. So that the song never dies out. Even if everyone else around us forgets that God is with us, there will always be someone in the communion of the Church to remind us. The friendship that we live in the life of the Church is like a fellowship that guards a valuable treasure--the treasure of God's nearness. Through our communion with one another, we constantly remind each other that something amazing has happened, God has come to dwell among us.
The world also needs the Church. Our mission is to announce to a world that has forgotten God, "God is with us." The world has forgotten the words of the song that has the power to save it from its sorrow, sin, and death. Wherever Christians live the communion of the Church together, we become like a small voice that reintroduces the beautiful notes of the Incarnation into a dreary, cold, and empty existence. When we build a world that excludes God, we build a world that destroys man. It is the Church's mission to remind the world that God is with us.
As another semester comes to a close, I am grateful for the friendship that we share together in Christ. Together, in our friendship, we ensure that the song of the new creation continues: God Is With Us.