Tuesday, September 30, 2014

looking beyond the dreadlocks

the Cross of Saint Francis
Dear Family and Friends,

It was Divine Mercy Sunday. I had just finished hearing confessions at a parish about an hour from home. The gas gauge in my car read “E” – the red side of “E”.

So I pulled up at the first gas station I saw and reached for my wallet. But it wasn’t there! I had left it at home.

Luckily for me, there was quite a collection of change in the cup holder in the car. I counted it out – two dollars and eighteen cents in assorted pennies, nickels, quarters and dimes. Probably not enough to get home, but it might get me close, and then I could call for help. As I walked to the register, change in hand, there were all sorts of people about filling up their cars, but I noticed one man with fluffy dreadlocks in particular. “Wow,” I thought inside.

Feeling embarrassed about all the coins, I asked the lady at the register if she didn’t mind taking it all. She said she’d make do. Then, as I poured the coins into her little dish, I heard a voice over my shoulder. “Need some gas money?”

I turned, and gave a double take. It was the man with the fluffy dreadlocks. I hesitated and gave a whispered “Yes.” Immediately he took some money from his hand – enough to get me home – and placed it in my hand.

At this the cashier cheered up, as you can imagine I did. “Thank you,” I said. The man just nodded and smiled.

As soon as I got back to the car and started pumping the gas, I started searching for something to give him in gratitude. All I could find was a picture of the cross of Saint Francis blessed by Pope Francis. (Which I guess isn’t that bad a gift!) I brought it over to the man and he accepted it graciously, but humbly.

And I was left with two lessons. First, what a beautiful image of how kind and selfless and caring Our good Lord is and how he watches out for us! Second, it was a concrete lesson of how silly it is to judge by appearances. The man with the fluffy dreadlocks was the last one I thought would have helped me – he  was the kind of person I would have stayed away from. But the Lord “sees the heart”. Unlike us.

Well now I know. The heart is what matters. And this man had a heart of gold.

May God bless him, and God bless you!
Father Kevin

Sunday, September 21, 2014

moments that make me smile

adoration with the first graders
Dear Family and Friends,

Last Friday the preschool students came to mass with all the other students at school. No one gave any warning, but I tried to make things as simple and short as respectfully possible.

It turns out that one little boy was quite anxious to go after about 5 minutes. “When will it be over?” he asked his teacher. “There’s just four more songs,” she replied. After each song he’d ask how many more were left. When he was down to one song, we had just finished with communion, and there’s usually a moment of silence. I like to sit down and close my eyes and pray a little. Apparently, upon seeing me do this, the little boy threw his hands up in the air. “Now he’s taking a nap!” he cried in dismay.

Another day, I was praying in the chapel at school while we had a special time of adoration of Jesus in the blessed sacrament. Each class took their turn in the chapel. The first graders, all 20 of them, marched right up close to the altar. Their teacher had them kneel on the step. Then they prayed two decades of the rosary. First she asked them what they wanted to pray for. Each one got to lead a Hail Mary. Then she told them to find a quiet place in the chapel to pray on their own.

I had my eyes closed again, but soon there were noises all about. It turns out a bunch of the first graders wanted to pray with me! Someone even got a picture.

So as a priest, you get both worlds. Sometimes you’re the hero, and sometimes you’re the… uh… guy who takes a nap! Either way it's a joy, and I still love being a priest!

May God bless you,
Father Kevin