Who’s the Big Cheese around here? Not Gramps, apparently…
That much was settled after several rounds of the board game “Mousetrap” had been contested amongst Granddaughter, Grandma and the Old Dude over the past 24 hours or so.
I could be mistaken about this, but it sure seemed like the gals were gangin’ up on Gramps just a bit. And so, my little red mouse token spent a fair amount of time under the trap-contraption, relentlessly and repeatedly fating me to surrender my hard-won slices of cheese to my opponents.
Still, there’s an upside to spending all your time in the Loser’s Bracket, I suppose. For one thing, it gives you plenty of time to contemplate the intricate nature of the gizmo that’s about to ensnare your mouse token.
As any afficionado of classic board games can tell you, the Mousetrap infrastructure is WAY more complicated than it has to be. That’s the whole point, I guess: Kids of all ages find it absolutely hilarious – how we’re relying on the kinetic energy of no less than nine interconnected widgets to ultimately cage a mouse token and steal his cheese.
Not much is at stake in a game of Mousetrap, of course. It’s not even real cheese, for heaven’s sake – just a cardboard representation. But having recently played the game…and having navigated its extraordinary intricacies…all that was fresh in my mind and heart when my wife and I joined our parish community for Mass today.
Or, as a curmudgeon might put it, “what’s left of our parish community, post-COVID.” Those of us who still attend worship services regularly certainly know what I’m talking about: the pews remain disturbingly under-utilized week after week – not just in our parish, but at churches all across the country.
It troubles me to see how baptized Catholics…baptized Christians…have been walking away from their communities in droves over the past couple of years. And while COVID restrictions may have accelerated the exodus, I think the core issues run much deeper than “fear-of-infection.”
“It’s complicated,” as the popular saying goes today – every bit as complicated as a board-game contraption built entirely for our amusement.
Yes, it’s enormously complicated. And here’s something that occurred to me, as we were worshiping today: God somehow WANTS it to be complicated.
God doesn’t desire a “one-size-fits-all” look to the Body of Christ. Saint Paul makes that much clear in his first letter to the Corinthians, which we hear proclaimed during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity:
As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
My temptation – so often – is to write off those who have walked away. My temptation is to scold them, cajole them: “Get with the program! It really works!”
But Paul’s message (and therefore presumably God’s message) to the disaffected Christian is a bit more subtle:
Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
And that, in turn, tends to make my task – as a “still practicing” Christian – a bit more complicated. I can’t give in to temptation. I can’t simply write off those who disagree with me, or see things differently.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor…
This is indeed a great mystery for us all to ponder, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity:
But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended.
And we would do well, then, to take a lesson from the actual Big Cheese: “Yes, It’s gonna be complicated — enormously complicated. So prepare your hearts, and draw on the power of the Spirit, to ensure that you leave no one behind.”
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.