Better a dish of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it. (Prov 15:17, NABRE)
OUR STORY …
Some would say that Padre is a glutton for punishment. He faithfully eats at The Greasy Spoon diner once a week, every week. The cholesterol, saturated fats, and sodium cannot be good for his heart, but nevertheless, the old priest comes trudging through those doors and orders up the daily special.
Nobody knows for sure why he does it. It makes no sense. In fact, his friends at St. Anne’s, where he is the priest, have encouraged him to stop doing it.
IT IS WRITTEN …
So what’s the Bible verse above all about? And how does it apply to this foolish priest in The Chucktown Diocese?
The verse actually speaks to the power of love. The great feast of the soul is not spicy herbs or fatted meats. It’s just love. Jesus said that the two great commands of all time were to love God and to love each other (Matt 22:38). And the Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8).
Padre knows that the Church is a living, dynamic force. She continues to grow in her wisdom and power under the intercession of Our Lady and the grace and ministry of the Holy Spirit. We see this growth as we read the writings of our popes over the years.
In “The Joy of the Gospel,” an apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis tells us:
“The People of God is incarnate in the people’s of the earth, each of which has its own culture. The concept of culture is valuable for grasping the various expressions of the Christian life …”
Well, that’s a mouthful. Even if more believers actually read what the Church is learning and teaching, it’s doubtful we would understand why Padre continues weekly to sacrifice himself on the altar of gastric intrusions. But he keeps doing it as if it doesn’t really matter what we think.
LIFE GOES ON …
Three years ago, when Padre was assigned to St. Anne’s, he met a middle-aged, single mother. Her name was Myrtle, as in Myrtle Beach. Myrtle had her GED, but she didn’t have any technical job skills. So this single mother of three went to work down at The Greasy Spoon, taking orders and cleaning tables to keep a roof over her children’s heads and food in their little tummies.
Ever since he met her, Padre has been dining weekly at The Greasy Spoon. Anyone who might have observed him would realize that he’s always been careful to sit at one of the six tables Myrtle serves. He’s always included her and her family in his prayers when he blessed his food. And he has always left her a tip he could surely not afford. He’s done it all without any fanfare. It’s been a secret between God and him.
Whether “The Joy of the Gospel” had anything to do with it or not, Padre somehow understands that we must take our faith into the culture around us. The goal is not to change the culture but to breathe life into that culture. Padre surely knows that two important features of culture are food (eating) and work. The Greasy Spoon is Padre’s opportunity to breath life there where it’s needed.
So maybe that’s why Padre eats all that unhealthy cholesterol, saturated fats, and sodium each week. Maybe he does it that others might live.
That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. It’s cool to be Catholic.