Y'know, I read the bible. Not as often as I did when I was in bible study, but I read it and I find comfort in it. Solace. Still, even in the studies, it was hard to relate to the apostles, the women, everyone. Oh, I've tried, and I can imagine what they felt. Today, however...today was different. I can totally align myself with Mary Magdalene. I can tell you, that I have felt almost the exact gut wrenching pain she felt when she went to the tomb and found it empty. I know b/c that's exactly how I felt today.
After little to no sleep last night, I went to Fr. Antony's mass this morning. It was packed! We estimated that there were about 900-1000 in attendance to say there goodbyes. And, lest you think I was the only one crying, there were plenty of tears to go around, and not just from me. I stood in the back, as I had a mission. I wanted to be the last one Fr. Antony gave communion to. And, I was. I know it didn't matter, but to me it did. And, it mattered to about 20 other people as well. See, Fr. Tim's line was short and Robert tried, to no avail, to redirect people from Fr. Antony's line. They weren't moving, and neither was I.
Fr. Antony was so emotional, he had Fr. Tim do the homily today. I think it was a good thing too, as Fr. Antony was crying too.
Today was an extra special day. People were hugging just a little bit harder, just a little bit longer. We lost one of our own. One who was really never ours to begin with, but one who became one of our own. And, yes, I am comparing Fr. Antony to Jesus. There is no way possible not to as everything Fr. Antony did was a shinning example of Jesus. You could not go to confession with Fr. Antony and not feel that Jesus was sitting across from you. It is impossible. Fr. Antony is funny and warm and loving and made those who truly know him feel absolutely special, like they were the only one in the world at that very moment. It would just be the two of you and he was in no hurry to be anywhere else. That my dear friends is Jesus. So, I do not feel in the least blasphemous to compare Fr. Antony to Jesus. Because after all, isn't Jesus the heart of all of us?
Today, after work, I stopped into adoration as I hadn't been there in a while, and who better to ease my pain, but my dad? And, as I pulled up to the chapel, I began to cry and then I heard "He is not here". No, he is not. He is not here, where he was just hours before. He is not saying Mass, hearing a confession, playing with children, talking, smiling, loving. He is gone. He is on a plane. And, that's when it hit me. The pain that Mary must have felt when she went to the tomb to see her beloved Jesus. The only difference is I know where Fr. Antony is and it was still a gut wrenching pain.
You know, throughout this whole ordeal of Fr. Antony leaving, I have been brought to my knees. A lot of us have. I have been brought closer to God. We all have a hole deep in our hearts that will forever be there. So, on this day, this very day, continue to love a little deeper, hug a little tighter, and hold on a little longer.
Until next time,
Pray for Fr. Antony, his safe travel, for rest on his vacation, for God to ease the pain in his own heart as he leaves all of us, and for his new mission in India.