As I was leaving Mass yesterday, a dear friend asked if I’d seen the television coverage of Saturday’s funeral Mass for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
I thought it was an odd question.
While I personally admired Justice Scalia’s wit, writing skills and overall approach to jurisprudence, he didn’t exactly rise to the level of ‘hero’ in my book – so it seemed to me like there might be better ways to spend a Saturday morning than tuning in to the proceedings from our nation’s capital.
At my friend’s urging, I subsequently surfed the ‘net to learn more about what went on there – specifically, the words of remembrance offered by Justice Scalia’s son, Rev. Paul Scalia.
Much to my surprise, the words of the eulogy made my heart soar – just as my friend assured me they would.
Rev. Scalia’s opening salvo was classic:
We are gathered here because of one man. A man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more. A man loved by many, scorned by others. A man known for great controversy, and for great compassion. That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.
I can just imagine the old man beaming with pride as his son’s wit…and evangelistic insight. And there was more where that came from. If you’re interested, you can find the full text of Rev. Scalia’s remarks here.
In this mean season of election politics, I think it’s safe to say that I did not expect to hear anything emanating from Washington DC that would enkindle hope or joy in my heart. Indeed, from what I understand, Justice Scalia’s death has touched off a bit of a firestorm on social media outlets – the blogosphere choked with vitriol yet again.
How refreshing, then, to discover that Rev. Scalia had found a persuasive way to rise above the tempest …and inject a full measure of Good News into the nation’s discourse, if even only for a moment.
His closing words, in my view, are worth quoting at length:
So we cannot depart here unchanged…We must allow this encounter with eternity to change us, to turn us from sin and towards the Lord…
My dear friends, this is also the structure of the Mass, the greatest prayer we can offer for Dad, because it’s not our prayer, but the Lord’s. The Mass looks to Jesus yesterday. It reaches into the past … it makes those mysteries and their power present here on this altar.
Jesus himself becomes present here today under the form of bread and wine so that we can unite all our prayers of thanksgiving, sorrow and petition with Christ himself as an offering to the father.
And all of this with a view to eternity, stretching towards heaven, where we hope one day to enjoy that perfect union with God himself and to see Dad again and, with him, rejoice in the communion of saints.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.