I was once an altar boy. During Mass, my job was to fetch, to pray in Latin, to ring bells and to look reasonably pious.
It was a fashionable job. I wore a cassock, which was a floor length black garment. It was topped off with a snow-white surplice which is a poofy kind of shirt. Grandma said I looked like an angel except I wasn’t. Me and my buddies would sometimes finish off the communion wine. (Please don’t tell Father Holzafel)
I had one important job. During communion, the congregation would kneel at the rail, and the priest would stop at each person, take the consecrated host and say the words, “This is the body of Christ.” He then would carefully place the wafer on their extended tongue.
I was taught that when the priest said the words over the wafers – they became the body of Christ. So, they had to be handled with great respect. We weren’t permitted to touch or even to chew them.
Which was tricky because the wafer had the consistency of Styrofoam. Sometimes it would get stuck to the roof of your mouth, and then you spent the rest of the service working your tongue to get it off.
The altar boy would follow the priest and place a paten under the chin of the receiver. A paten is sort of like a frying pan without the sides (or the lard)
If the priest should fumble with the host, then it was the job of the altar boy to catch it.
Well one sleepy 6 a.m. Mass, I was working the paten. Suddenly it happened – a rowdy tongue knocked the wafer from the fingers of the priest, and it fluttered to the ground.
This was a tragedy in the making because it was the body of Christ – BUT with lightning speed, I snatched the wafer from doom.
I expected the priest to high five me, but he took the host to the altar instead, prayed a five-minute prayer, then ate it himself.
But wow did I feel good because that was the day I saved Jesus!
Sort of ridiculous isn’t it? To think that I was necessary. To think that I saved the Savior from harm?
The apostle Paul once stood and addressed the philosophers of his day saying, “The God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives life and breath and everything to everyone.” – Acts 17:24-25 (NETBible ®)
That pretty much sums it up. Though we work, He is not actually served by human hands because He needs nothing (or no one). He is the giver of life and breath to all who exist. He doesn’t need us to save Him.
But oh, how we think that we do!
“My kid is waffling with his faith, if I don’t force the issue, Jesus will be lost to him.”
“I must go on this mission trip or people will die and go to hell. Jesus needs me.”
I would like to be honest about my depression, but if I do, people will doubt the Lord, so for His sake, I will suffer in silence.”
Really? It’s an honor that He has chosen to include and use us – but He sure doesn’t need us. He can direct a great fish to do His bidding, or use the oration of a donkey, or cause the rocks to cry out His praise.
He doesn’t need us to save Him – and what a relief!
Your son is waffling with his faith. Give him room to think. Lose the panic in your voice when you discuss the issue. Jesus is big enough to draw Him to Himself as He once drew you.
Those whom He has prepared will get the Gospel whether you go do the mission trip or not. Jesus used a vision to reach the apostle Paul. He miraculously transported Philip to evangelize the Ethiopian Eunuch. God is resourceful and up to the challenge.
Will your friends reject Christ because you are honest about your depression? No, they will understand that being a Christian doesn’t mean you are perfect, just forgiven and growing. They will warm up to a Savior that doesn’t expect us to be perfect.
It’s not about you – it’s all about Him. So relax! Take to heart Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 (NETBible ®) Stop trying to save Him and let Him do the saving.