I left church today. Not church in general, but I left 15 minutes early from the mass.
There is one man whom I've seen sitting on the ground, in front of our grocery store many times.
And I've seen him come to church and sit in the first row, usually with head in his hands.
I always wonder what he's praying about, and I don't know, but I pray with him.
today he walked in late, in the middle of the mass, and brought small white flowers with him.
He walked up to the cross in front and put the flowers under Jesus' feet.
The priest stopped his sermon an watched the man kneeling down in front of the cross.
The preaching continued once the man sat down on his usual place, priest frowning at him.
and I thought... Jesus, if they make him leave what will I do? Jesus if they don't let him stay in your house I'm leaving too.
And I remembered words I've read in one blog earlier today, which made me stop and think:
"I'm tired of playing church"
I sat there and watched him as he stood up and walked over to the priest as they were giving out Communion.
And the priest started to talk to him with really loud and angry voice and pointing his finger to the door, wanting the man to leave.
Alright, maybe the man didn't confess his sins before (you know, like you do before receiving Communion) - and maybe the priest knew this? - I have no idea how he could know but...that's not a reason to make him leave completely.
In that moment I couldn't imagine what terrible thing the man could have done to be send out of church.
And I still don't know.
I can't imagine anything terrible enough to make you unworthy of being allowed to go to church.
They made him leave.
And I felt like crying, I wanted to run down there and stop them. But I'm a coward. I sat there five more minutes before I've finally made up my mind and did, what I promised Jesus I'll do.
I took my bag and run down the stairs, out into the freezing night air.
How awful it had to be for the man. He was out there now, humiliated and alone, kicked out of church.
I only hope he knows God walked out with him, not leaving him for a second.
And as I walked home, I was thinking. Would be God ok with me, leaving sunday mass? I go to church to be with Him and pray. I don't go there because of people, not because of the priest. I go, to witness how bread and wine are changed into Christ's body and blood. To witness miracle.
But He asked me in the silence of cold portuguese night
"Don't you think the gift of small white flowers is worth more in My eyes that a couple of coins you gave? who has the right to make my son leave from My house?"
I regret staying those five more minutes, I regret not doing something more, I regret I didn't act like Jesus wanted me to. I regret a lot of things, but walking out of that church is not one of them.