“I will go anywhere, provided it be forward.”
― David Livingstone
Yesterday-gorgeous. Today-yucky. Welcome to North Texas. This morning, the fog hung onto the sky like a grey flannel cloak. (Poetic. Right?) The construction in the church parking lot had people walking long distances to get to Mass. As I greeted the briskly walking late comers, I asked, “Did you have to park in Oklahoma?”
Today’s Gospel was a tough one for me. It was the old “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies.” My take on it…you can turn the other cheek time and time again, but sometimes you get tired of getting slapped around. Just walk away. As for the love your enemies thing, I feel fortunate that I can honestly say that I have no enemies. I have never hated anyone. I’ve been angry, hurt, devastated, and didn’t always turn the other cheek, but never hated. (Therefore, I need to work on a few things, don’t I?)
This morning, we had a guest priest saying Mass. Father Jim Sichko had the privilege of being in Pope Francis’ presence; living where he lived, eating at his table and listening to him speak. He was selected as a Missionary of Mercy by the Holy Father at the recommendation of bishop, John Stowe. About 1,000 priests worldwide were selected to take on this special ministry, with 100 of them coming from the United States. Only a few were selected to stay with the Pope.
Father Jim was quite the showman, and had the congregation rolling with laughter. He shared his stories of his secretary coming in his office to tell him that Pope Francis was on the phone, and he said, “Sure, sure, right!” Then, he picked up the phone and mumbled nonsense to the imposter, only to find out it was truly the Pope.
Father Jim was among 100 priests selected to be Missionaries of Mercy for the Jubilee year with the Holy Fire. As part of being selected, the group of priests chosen where invited to live alongside Pope Francis at his residence in Rome for an extended amount of time. He had to sign a stack of waivers, one of which was that he would not take photos of the Pontiff. Being a self-professed selfie taker, this was a painful task.
The good part was, at the end of his visit, waiver or no waiver, he asked Pope Francis if he could take a selfie before going home. The Pontiff was happy to oblige.
Father Jim pulled out his cell phone and showed us all the picture. We all laughed. It was a good service.
After Mass, everyone lined up to talk to Father and shake his hand. Being quite the showman myself, I shook his hand, said thank you and asked,”Father, can we take a selfie?” He was also more than happy to oblige. All the other people standing around laughed, and I’m pretty sure we’re sorry that they didn’t think of it first.