During Holy Thursday mass I noticed a beautiful, young-ish (who can really tell how old a woman is these days) woman sitting a few rows in front of me. She was the kind of beautiful that takes your breath away. Mahogany skin, deep brown eyes, hair cut short with highlights on the ends – no make-up – she didn’t need any. I was mesmerized, stared longer than was probably polite. After a few moments, I refocused on the mass and became immersed in what is my favorite night of the year.
What was it about her that kept me stealing a glance? Yes, she was beautiful but so were so many other young ladies in church – it is, after all, a church near a major college campus. Was it the reverence she showed? Or was it her participation and singing? Was it how she gazed at the crucifix (ours remain uncovered during the Triduum)? For the record, I’m not a creepy lady that spends her time at mass watching people rather than participating fully. But there was something remarkable about this woman; I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
I was so fascinated that as we were leaving mass I wanted to stop and introduce myself. I didn’t have the chance. She got out of the building and down the sidewalk in a flash and I would have had to run to catch her. Even I’m not that crazy, not even when I’m sure I’m supposed to meet someone, to find out their story.
Heading down the metro escalator I spotted her again. She was almost to the bottom when someone right in front of me called out her name. She turned and looked up the escalator. Her smile was radiant, and she waved, obviously so happy to see the person who called her name. As they met at the bottom of the escalator her friend asked her where she was coming from. The young woman said, “I’ve just been to Holy Thursday mass.” Her friend asked, “What is that?” “It’s my favorite night of the year. I love it so much. It’s where our faith gets the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist. I feel so in love with my faith at this mass. It’s all about Jesus!”
I stopped to watch the exchange. She was bringing Jesus to her friend at the bottom of a busy metro escalator without any hesitation. I couldn’t look away. Her countenance. Her radiance. That smile. It was inviting. It was engaging. It made me want what she had, to be part of the conversation. “YES! I feel the same way” would’ve been my only contribution; I really just wanted to listen, to know more.
Riding the metro home, I couldn’t get the encounter out of my mind. Am I that joyful, that radiant, that open at mass and after? Do I take Jesus to others or do I keep that precious body for myself after I receive Him in the Eucharist? Does my countenance speak of the joy, the hope, the beauty that is our faith? Would anyone look at me at mass and want to know my story? And if they did, would I share it so enthusiastically?
Saint John Paul II once said, “We are Easter people and alleluia is our song.” If I am truly the Easter person I say I am, I need to act like it. That beautiful young woman showed me how.