Along the Way

Christ Among Us

By Dan Lackie, OFM

My earliest lessons in Catholicism I learned as a boy seated next to my mother at Mass. The rhythm of the music and the voices all around us were a big sound to my little ears, a vessel we were riding in. Christ was present; his Body carried us.

Reading between the lines of his Testament, I hear St. Francis describing how the Lord was present to him, carried and provided for him: “The Lord gave me some brothers,” he writes, and later: “The Lord revealed a greeting to me that we should say: ‘May the Lord give you peace.’”

In the background is John’s Gospel with Jesus present to his disciples on the evening after the resurrection. “Peace be with you,” he says and shows them his wounds. He reaches out to Thomas.

This peace of Christ does not remove the problems from without but is meant to infuse a deep trust within.

This same combination of peace, presence and trust became real at the end of Francis’ life as he prayed on the mountaintop of La Verna. There, as he considers the stresses between him and the very brothers the Lord had given him, the wounds of Christ begin to appear in his hands. Here was the presence of the Lord, felt intensely, bodily.

My own Franciscan life has roots in the sense of the real presence of the Lord I felt at Mass as a boy. Now, de- cades later, I serve God’s people as pastor. Here in Santa Barbara, the wounds of colonization are real to us, as are current accounts of violence and injustice throughout our nation. In the midst, as we proclaim at Eucharist, the Lord not only gives himself but has given us one another: “As once for his disciples, so now for us, he opens the Scriptures and breaks the bread.” ❖

Father Dan Lackie, OFM, is pastor of St. Barbara Parish, Old Mission Santa Barbara.

Credit: The Way of St. Francis SUMMER 2021· VOL.26, NO.2

Photo: Santuario della Verna (Chiusi),CC BY-SA 3.0 

(Left) St. Francis visited the beautiful woods of Mount La Verna for rest, prayer, and solitude. Here he received the wounds of Christ.

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