From the Director
One of Pope Francis’ most famous quotations is that those of us who are priests, we “shepherds,” should have the “smell of the sheep.” What a great, pungent image! Taking on the smell of the sheep will not be achieved by distancing ourselves from our people and their daily struggles. Sadly, there are probably no truer words in the Bible than, “the poor you will have always with you.”
Earlier this year, across the country, we were asked to practice “social distancing” for the good of everyone. Many priests used the telephone and email and social media and live streaming to be present to their people. But the poor do not have much access to cell phones or computers.
How could we manage to stay close to people and abide by that “almost quarantine” at the same time? It is daunting to live and minister in such challenging times, is it not?
First of all, we need to take care of our own inner selves, and, as St. Paul advises, “Let the peace of Christ control your hearts.” Contemplation and action need to stay in balance. That is indeed half the battle.
In this year’s pandemic, it was so easy to become short-sighted and only attend to what was immediately in front of us. Nevertheless, some people in that time of trial strengthened their faith. For others their feeble flame of faith started flickering in violent winds of worry.
In this year’s pandemic, it was so easy to become short-sighted and only attend to what was immediately in front of us.
In this year’s pandemic, it was so easy to become short-sighted and only attend to what was immediately in front of us. How many of our worries turn out to be unnecessary and how many times in the Gospel does Jesus in various passages say, “do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me?” When we look back over the last few months, can we see a pattern of combating our anxieties through trust in Jesus? Or were we fearful?
They say there are only two emotions on Wall Street; the first is greed, and the second is fear. Certainly, in March fear was in the driver’s seat and took us for a wild ride. So many felt anxiety as they first watched with horror and then could not bear to look at their shrunken portfolios. Colleges and religious communities saw their endowments get smaller.
A friend wrote to me these encouraging words, “We build churches, and send missionaries all over the world, to convert people into changing their lives I can’t imagine God isn’t going to help us figure out something so all this won’t go to waste. I can’t believe that at all!”
Looked at in another way, in the world that gives off the stink of greed, fear, indifference and downright injustice, the followers of Jesus should bring the fragrance of trust in Christ.