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Dec 24, 2021 479 Shalom Tidings
Encounter

Filled With Kisses

A young couple introduced their eight-year-old (special needs) son, Gabriel, to the parish priest with a request to accept him as an altar server. The priest asked the boy, “Do you want to be an altar server?” Instead of responding verbally, the boy hugged the priest around the waist, as high as he could reach.

The following Sunday, Gabriel arrived punctually, 15 minutes before Mass as the priest had arranged. Since there was no sacristan, the priest had to run back and forth making preparations. It was not until Mass was about to begin that he realized Gabriel knew nothing about how to serve Mass. So, the priest said, “Gabriel, do whatever I do, OK?”

Gabriel was an obedient boy, and very literal. When Mass began and the priest kissed the altar, the boy kissed it too. During the homily, all were smiling and paying no attention to the priest because they were captivated by the cute altar server who was doing his best to imitate the priest’s every gesture.

After Mass, the priest called little Gabriel to his side and explained what he should and should not do during Mass. He clarified that kissing the altar was a gesture reserved to the priest; “The altar represents Christ, and the priest, while performing the sacrament, is joined in a special way to Him.”

Although Gabriel was obedient, he was also frank, so he didn’t hesitate to say, “But I want to kiss it, too.” Further explanations didn’t diminish the boy’s desire to kiss the altar, so the priest came up with a clever solution telling the boy that he would kiss the altar “for both of them”. The boy seemed to accept this solution, at least for the moment.

As he began Mass the following Sunday, the priest kissed the altar and watched to see what Gabriel would do. The boy did not kiss the altar; instead, he pressed his cheek against the altar and stayed there with a big smile on his face until the priest asked him to stop.

After Mass, the pastor reviewed the instructions with the boy, reminding him he was not to kiss the altar and that the priest was doing it “for both of them”. But the boy quickly disagreed, saying, “I didn’t kiss it; it kissed me!” Taken aback, the priest said, “Gabriel, don’t play games with me.” But the boy didn’t back down. “It’s true!” he said. “He filled me with kisses!”

This incident, shared by Father José Rodrigo López Cepeda on social media, relates an incident from his early years at the parish of the Shrine of St. Orosia in Spain. Little Gabriel teaches us the importance of letting ourselves be loved by Jesus first, and of always remaining close, in good times and in bad. Have you been kissed by Him today?

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