A common theme linking the experiences of encounter and witness during the Papal visit was togetherness. Though we hundreds of thousands and eventually more than a million people came in our little groups, maybe kept our prized barricade spots to ourselves, we were all in this moment together. This feeling of solidarity was most striking on Sunday when PJ and I were in line to get through security to the parkway grounds to attend Mass. All the lines closest to the three open train stations were curb-to-curb people and at least two blocks deep. The line we chose was among the worst of the ten entrances. We had a five-hour wait.
At one point in our slow sojourn, PJ had the following comment: imagine what it would be like for the refugees or even Jesus as he carried the cross to Golgotha. Obviously, our weariness was an iota of the suffering the two groups feel. But it was a small way to align ourselves with our brothers and sisters and our Lord. If after just 300 hundred minutes on our feet, we had thoughts of “when will this be over?”, “my back/legs/feet hurt so much,” then imagine what others on their journeys must feel. But all of us put ourselves on these long walks for a purpose, one that has even the slightest glimmer of hope amid the agony–that “we will make it.”
PJ and I could have bailed, found some #openinPhila restaurant and watched the Mass on TV or gotten a headstart on our drive home, but we didn’t, because we had a small hope that we would make it–even if just for Communion and the final blessing. Refugees have the hope that will have better lives and peace and security. Jesus, I personally think, had if not hope that the Resurrection would happen, at least a trust in hour Heavenly Father that this experience He called him to had a purpose. And while we made it into the grounds in the middle of the Eucharistic prayer, we didn’t get to receive communion. And that just reminded me of all the people who wish to receive Eucharist but are unable to. It definitely put my earlier frustration at the long wait into perspective.
Solidarity is important because it’s way we can be united as the body of Christ. I’m glad we got to experience the papal events together; I’m even more glad God wanted to put it on my heart to recognize how I, just one person in the crowd, am really united to my human family.