Msgr is away this weekend at his annual family reunion. I would love to be a fly on the wall. He told me a few weeks ago, “Some people think I’m a little cranky. But I’m the nicest one in my family.” He is a good man, our pastor, and I’m filled with gratitude that God gave Msgr to me as my first pastor. He has trusted me a lot and I have learned many things from him. He’s got me preaching all the Masses this weekend in order to say goodbye. I wasn’t sure what to say. There is so much to say, even after only two years. So I asked my spiritual director, Fr. Joe. He said to tell you three things: Thank you, I’m sorry, and I love you.
Thank you. Our readings today tell us about the importance of seemingly small things. Jesus tells us that it means quite a lot to give someone a glass of water. Seems like a small thing, but that act of giving a glass of water is for Jesus divine. And then we see a rich woman in the first reading who prepares a room so that whenever Elisha would come through, a room would be prepared for him, complete with a lamp, a bed, and a bedstand. It seems like a small thing, this act of hospitality, but it means a lot to know that you have a place in someone’s home. You have given me a place in your homes, in your families. I have eaten about four dinners in the rectory since I got here. Msgr and I have breakfast together sometimes, but our lives are crazy and we’re always running around. Thank you for all the dinners and casseroles and cakes. Thank you for inviting me into your families. I am thankful for so many things. I have a list of things…perhaps I will post it later. I’m thankful though, because what Jesus says in the Gospel is true. He says, “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” I think it’s true that when one enters religious life, he or she gives up his or her life. We lose our lives. But then we find them all the more, that is the promise of Jesus. And it is true! I’ve never felt so alive and so spirited as I have these two years. You have made me love being a priest and I thank you for that. This is a special place and I’m thankful to have been a part of it.
Next, I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I ever forgot to return a phone call or email. I do my best. I’m sorry if I was ever impatient or ever said anything that offended you (unless it was truth!). I’m sorry if I ever made you feel….less than great. I did not mean to.
Last, I love you. I will never forget a dinner I had with my friend Ashley. She is a youth minister back where I come from in Bloomington. We were at Chickfila and talking about some of the youth we know and love. At a certain moment, she stopped talking in the middle of a sentence, paused for a second, and said, “Do you think they have any idea how much we love them?” We decided they couldn’t possibly. That is the sentiment I feel for you all, especially the youth of our parish. I love you so much. You know, when we receive Holy Communion–our hands become His hands, our feet His feet….and our heart becomes His heart. Human love and divine love, sometimes I can’t tell the difference. Thank you for making it so easy to love you!
Well, that’s it folks. It’s been real. You have a great priest coming and while I’m so thankful for these years, I’m so excited for the future of this place….and for Shelbyville. We will be in touch, especially in prayer! God bless you always.