Jesus is extremely critical of the Pharisees and scribes. He speaks of them polishing the outside when inside they are filth and dirt. They cover the filth inside by covering themselves with a polished exterior. Today we live in a world of coverings, too. We are covered with masks. It is interesting walking into grocery stores or hardware stores, seeing people walk up and down the aisle, with masks on, hardly acknowledging each other. And how hard it is to recognize people only by their eyes. As a priest, I wear my collar, so I am always a give away and people recognize me quickly. Sometimes when I do not wear the collar, I feel like I am almost invisible. And of course, I am a bit embarrassed when someone greets me, but I cannot see enough of their face to know who they are.
And masks can be rather unnerving. I was celebrating a funeral for a family about two months ago. There were about 75 people, and everyone was wearing masks. I was focused on the family and getting them in order for the procession into church, so I was not watching other people in the congregation. Everything was going along fine until I came to the Gospel reading. This is the first time where I can really look out at all the people. It was then one family became very prominent. Dad, Mom, and each of the children had an appropriately sized mask, which was good. But on the mask, they all had the same image. A toothy grin. It looked like this:
? ? ? ? ? ? ?
I had to look twice. Then I had to tell myself not stare. But I could only see these grins. You could not help looking back at them. I wondered what they were thinking. Did they know the image they were portraying? I wondered what the rest of the family thought when they saw this. Was this a simple protest for having to wear a mask. I know my mind wonders, just like others at mass, especially when presented something like this. Was this some sort of repeat with Alice In Wonderland? How quickly we can hide who we are. We live in society now that follows airplane rules. “Put your own mask on before helping others.”
Wearing a mask is such a simple thing. Hardly the object to become so upset and angered. Do you let your outward emotions mask who you are on the inside? It is something to think about today.
And as the old adage says: Grin and bear it.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen