Monday, September 28, 2015
We have an interim pastor at our local parish, someone to keep the trains running for a year until we get a new permanent pastor. He was introduced to us as a former accountant who found his vocation later in life, so I expected someone who would be focused on cleaning up the books. It turns out that the earlier part of his life included getting married and raising a family, and that he is one of the most joy-filled priests I have ever encountered. In his age, his looks, and his profound yet simple sermons, he evokes Pope Francis for me every Sunday.
I listened to and watched as much of what Our Holy Father was saying over the past week as I possibly could, and I'm looking forward to downloading & reading everything more carefully. What a powerful display of loving, joyful confidence in the truth of the Gospel, in every encounter he had with the multitudes of people he saw, in the most diverse range of settings! What a model for us all!
When I read Fr. Al's "column" in our Church bulletin this Sunday, I found it a fitting coda to Pope Francis' visit. It's a "new" version of the famous 'footprints in the sand' story. I've included it here, after the split.
Footprints … A New Version
Imagine you and the Lord Jesus are walking down the road together. For
much of the way, the Lord’s footprints go along steadily, consistently,
rarely varying the pace. But your footprints are a disorganized stream of
zigzags, starts, stops, turnarounds, circles, departures and returns.
For much of the way, it seems to go like this, but gradually your footprints
come more in line with the Lord’s, soon paralleling His consistently. You
and Jesus are walking as true friends! This seems perfect, but then an
interesting thing happens: your footprints that once etched the sand next
to Jesus’ are now walking precisely in His steps. Inside His larger
footprints are your smaller ones; you and Jesus are becoming one.
This goes on for many miles, but gradually you notice another change.
The footprints inside the large footprints seem to grow larger. Eventually
they disappear altogether. There is only one set of footprints – they have
This goes on for a long time, but suddenly the second set of footprints is
back. This time it seems even worse! There are zigzags all over the
place – stops – starts – gashes in the sand; a variable mess of prints.
You are amazed and shocked. Your dream ends.
Now you pray:
“Lord, I understand the first scene with zigzags and fits. I was a new
Christian. I was just learning. But you walked on through the storm and
helped me to learn to walk with you.”
“That is correct.”
“…and when the smaller footprints were inside of yours, I was actually
learning to walk in your steps, following you very closely.”
“Very good. You have understood everything so far.”
“…when the smaller footprints grew and filled in yours, I suppose that I
was becoming like you in every way.”
“So, Lord, was there a regression or something? The footprints
separated and this time it was worse than at first.” There is a pause as
the Lord answers with a smile in His voice.
“You didn’t know? That was when we danced!”
To everything there is a season – a time for everything under heaven: a
time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Yes,
we are asked to dance. Don’t forget to dance with the Lord. And
remember who leads!
Have a great week. God loves you!