It is a lovely sunny Sunday in the Bahamas. The doors and windows in St. Joseph Church are wide open as Mr. Cyril Baker and the choir begin a fantastic rendition of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Presider Father Preston Moss begins the liturgical procession down the long aisle to the front of the church. When Fr. Moss is about halfway to the altar, the town drunk, Mr. Higgs, whom everyone knows, joins the choir in his loud, enthusiastic, and very off-pitch voice. Ushers immediately come to remove Mr. Higgs from church…and the more they try to move him, the louder Mr. Higgs sings.
When Fr. Moss reaches the sanctuary, he goes to the microphone and says: “Mr. Baker, please stop playing.” The organ and choir are silent, while Mr. Higgs continues to sing in protest to his being taken out.
Moss says, “Ushers, please let Mr. Higgs stay. Do not try to remove him from church. He has come, like the rest of us, to be in community, to worship the Lord together. If we don’t accept Mr. Higgs in our congregation, where will he go? Where will he find acceptance? Let him stay.”
Silence…even from Mr. Higgs.
Then Fr. Moss says, “Mr. Baker and choir, please finish the last stanza of ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’… and then we will begin the Eucharist together.”
When the organ and choir again proclaim the joy of the Lord, Mr. Higgs hums along quietly, and it even sounds great!
The winnowing fan was at work. Repentance, metanoia, and love was shown in its fruits of acceptance.
Eunice Antony, OSB
Photo: The organ in Sacred Heart Chapel