Growing up in Minnesota, there were two seasons; road construction and hockey. Being a young girl of 12, road construction wasn’t very entertaining and, back in the late 70’s and early 80’s girls’ hockey wasn’t really an option. Hence, I was stuck being dragged to every one of my brother’s hockey games, standing frozen toed in an ice rink for hours on end only to come home to the fumes of the dreaded ‘hockey bag’. On one particular January weekend, my friend Molly and I were dragged to yet another one of her brother’s hockey tournaments about 3 hours away. This meant a sleepless night in a hotel listening to a crazy hockey team running the halls and covering our heads with pillows as Molly’s parents played cards in our room into the wee hours of the night with the other hockey parents. It also meant Mass in a different church.
On this particular Sunday, Molly and I were sitting next to her mom in church. When it came to the part in the Mass where the congregation responds, “Only say the word, and I shall be healed,” I looked over at Molly and in all childlike innocence whispered, “What is the word?” Molly whispered back, “What”, so I more dramatically asked, “What… is… the… word?” Molly looked at me, and seriously pondering the question said, “I don’t know.” It was at this time she elbowed her mom and said, “What is the word?” Molly’s mom, with her eyebrows crinkled, looked down at her and said, “What.” Molly repeated, “What is the word?” To which her mom, getting slightly disturbed replied, “What are you talking about?” Molly said, “You know. The word! Only say the word and I shall be healed. What is the word?” Now it clicked in her mom’s head and I’m sure the feeling of being perturbed was mixed with thoughts of ‘can these kids be this clueless’, so she leaned over and answered our lingering question with, “Shazam.” Needless to say we both thought about it for a while before we realized that it really couldn’t be shazam!
How innocent was our clueless twelve year old curiosity to think that our salvation rested on the recital of just one word. But, that one experience has bonded us for a lifetime. Molly now lives 1,500 miles away and although we talk often and see each other as much as possible, we still feel the separation of 10 states. However, there is one thing that unites us at every Mass…Shazam. How great that for all eternity I will be thinking of my best friend during the Mass. In my older age now, I realize that we weren’t too far from the truth when we posed our innocent question, “What is the word?” For Christ does tell us that we must accept the Kingdom of God like a child, and the more I think about it, there really is but one word that leads us to salvation and that Word has been since the beginning, and “the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”: (Jn 1:1)