I stay pretty busy as a deacon in my diocese. When I am not serving at my parish, I usually am serving somewhere else, or preaching the Mission Appeal for the Pontifical Mission Society through our diocese (I have 4 parish assignments per year, so I am preaching at least 4 times a year, multiply that by at least 6 masses a weekend and it adds up), not to mention all the other things I do with marriage preparation and annulments from marriages that were broken from before the beginning of the marriage, teaching RCIA, and doing various visitations for hospital or home visits. People even come up to me at parties and ask for prayers for their family members, this is how hurting our world is. I am blessed that they have the confidence to confide in me enough to ask for my prayers and counsel.
So, as busy as I tend to get, it is a real treat for me to sometimes get the view from in front of the altar, instead of from behind it. This is what happened to me today, as I went to a neighboring parish to witness my niece receive her first Holy Communion. It was not held in the parish, instead, it was held outside at a popular venue in town (the owners are parishioners at this particular parish). The reason it was held outside was because the parish was finishing up their construction of their church and they didn't know if it would be ready in time for the children's first communion (it was, actually and the Bishop consecrated it later in the day, but the mass had already been scheduled and it would have been too late to change).
All this intro to get to my reflection: While it was outside, which the Bishop gives permission to do with extreme circumstances, it was not very hot, but it was very sunny. I have a bald spot on my head that looks like I should be a Franciscan Friar, and while it was not hot outside, the sun was still beating down on everybody at mass. (well, almost everybody, there were numerous shade trees where many took refuge). About three quarters of the way through the mass, I started to "feel" the burn, as it were, and it caused me to reflect. I noticed many around me were uncomfortable also, and I wondered how it is that we have come to expect an air conditioned worship experience? The early church survived without air conditioning, heck, the early church survived without running water and indoor plumbing (unless they were Romans who could afford it, and it wasn't the running water we are used to). There are places in this world today that do not have what we have here in the West, yet they survive, sometimes even thrive in their spiritual lives.
We in the West are living in the 1% of the world's wealth, resources and technology, yet we complain (even if to ourselves) when things aren't exactly "perfect". As Father Tom reminded us in his homily today, as the sun was beating down on my poor Franciscan Head, Jesus gave us three commandments to follow; 1: Love one another as I have loved you. This is hard because we don't want to love our enemies, but it is the self sacrificing love that leads to salvation. 2: Do this in memory of me, that is, Eucharist. Taking of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We do this for our spiritual nourishment. 3: Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Pretty straight forward commands from our Lord. Come to think about it, Jesus never said anything about having a nice cool, safe place to do this in. I think the next time I am able to go to an outdoor Mass, I will keep my eyes on the Son on the Altar and not worry about the sun in the sky.