By Sarah Stanley
“I, John, had a vision of great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue. They stood before the throne of the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.”
As I pray with this week’s Scripture, in particular this image from Revelation,
I can’t help but be taken back to an experience from this past Palm Sunday that has been the focus of much of my prayer lately.
This year, eleven college students and I spent Palm Sunday and nearly all of Holy Week warmly embraced and welcomed by a beautiful Los Angeles community called Dolores Mission located in Boyle Heights. (The name may sound familiar if you have read Tattoos on the Heart or heard of Fr. Greg Boyle.)
Typical of Palm Sunday, the liturgy began outside of the church with everyone gathered to hear the story of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. For Dolores Mission, this began across the street at their elementary school where twelve men and women, dressed in robes to represent the apostles, formed an isle holding large palms that would be laid down to pave the way for another man who was dressed to represent Jesus. And so, the mass began with this beautiful depiction of Jesus and his apostles.
Being the liturgy-nerd that I am, the live portrayal alone was enough to inspire me,
but once I learned that each of the people who helped bring the Scripture to life were Guadalupanos, I was moved beyond words. “Then one of the elders said to me, ‘These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’”
You see, Guadalupanos are clients of the Guadalupe Homeless Project run by Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission. From my understanding, the program has two shelters - one for men and one for women - and the men’s shelter is Dolores Mission Parish. So the men and women that I watched pave the way for Christ are those experiencing homelessness.
The man who was portraying Jesus likely sleeps in the church.
I’m still speechless. What a beautiful example of what church is called to be. Not only does the parish itself open its doors as a shelter, but it embraces some of the most vulnerable in society, those who many may overlook or ignore. They are given a role in the liturgy.
They are given a place at the table.
And with this powerful witness of church, truly there is hope for the promises found at the end of this passage in Revelation: “For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
May all churches actively strive to love and include those most vulnerable and bring about peace in our world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hey there! I'm Sarah, a small town Ohio girl who is mildly obsessed with all things Jesuit and is very passionate about faith, social justice and the intersection of the two. I'm in the third (and final!) year of earning my Master of Divinity Degree from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA. When I'm not surrounded by piles of school books I enjoy travel, running, contagious laughter, clever puns and finding the good in all things.
Check out Sarah's blog at simplysarahs.blogspot.com