“I Must Stay at Your House”

by Melanie on November 21, 2017

in Catholicism, Cursillo, Friendship, Going 60 MPH, Landings, Memoir, Nonfiction, Returnees, Spirituality, When They Come Home

Note: On Tuesdays and some Sundays, you can find me at Your Daily Tripod, owned by my friend TonyD. A longer version of the post below appears there.

… Jesus … looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5, NRSVCE)

In late August or early September 2005, I went to the 7:30 a.m. Mass at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Arlington, Va. It was my second Mass at St. Charles, and probably my fifth or sixth Mass, not counting weddings and funerals, since 1972. I was in the process of a divorce and on the edge of financial survival.  The priest had an Irish brogue and gave a homily about social justice. I decided I would rock his safe little world.

“Hi, my name is Melanie,” I more or less snarled on my way out of St. Charles. “I’ve been away from the Church for a long time, and I’m thinking about coming back.”

“Welcome home,” he said, smiling a little, seemingly unfazed, as he shook my hand. “Welcome home.”

A few months later, I received communion from him at my first-ever Christmas Day Mass and my first reception of the Eucharist in thirty-three years.

His name was Gerry Creedon, and today at Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, Va., a whole lot of people—Catholic, Protestant, probably more than one atheist, rich, poor, Anglo, Latino, African-American, Asian, and so on—will gather for his funeral.

People knew Gerry for many reasons: his passion for social justice, his political connections and acumen, his mandolin playing, his storytelling. They’ll remember him for those things, and for conferring sacraments on them and those they love. I’ll remember him for some of those things too. But mostly, I’ll remember Gerry for recognizing on that long-ago morning my fumbling yet intense desire to return and welcoming me in the Lord’s name, much as Jesus recognized Zacchaeus’ desire to know Him, regardless of how tired Jesus might have been, regardless of His plan to simply pass through Jericho. May we all be as attentive when others approach us, combatively or otherwise, with their thirst to know Him.

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