(Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the La Salle Academy school community on Tuesday morning, 4 February 2014)
Let us pause and remember we are in the holy presence of a loving God.
Two weeks ago I walked from my house to Church for Sunday morning mass with two of my daughters, Mia and Maddie. We held hands on the way, and I told them how our Sunday morning walk, rain or shine, was always one of the best times of my week. I had one of those rare moments in which I recognized the goodness of a moment as I was experiencing it, I took a deep breath and exhaled, and felt, in that moment, completely at peace.
We walked into the church building and picked a bench not too close to the front, but also not too far. I knelt down to pray – the prayer of St. Francis has been my prayer of choice for the last year or so – and tried to continue to feel that peace I was feeling…but I soon got distracted.
You see, there was a guy sitting three rows in front of me and he was wearing acid wash jeans. So inside my head I’m like “Hey buddy, George Michael and WHAM! have a reunion concert tonight and they need their jeans back.” Then “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was in my head. Luckily that catchy ‘80s tune was pushed out of my conscience by the opening hymn, which I stood and sang along to, holding my daughters tight, like a good Christian. During the opening prayer I became distracted again.
This time I noticed that the same guy was wearing a collared white shirt with a gray sweatshirt over it…but the sweatshirt was tucked into his acid wash jeans. So in my head I’m like “Hey buddy, not even Theo Huxtable and Cockroach could pull that look off on the Cosby Show and they defined cool.” So now I’m wondering if the guy lost a bet or something. He was sitting alone – maybe his kids sat somewhere else because they were embarrassed. I don’t know. Next thing I know it’s time for the gospel and an old retired priest approached the podium.
So I whispered to Mia, “Hey, do you think the priest is older than Gracie?” Gracie is my 97 year old grandma. Mia giggled and nodded. The gospel was about Jesus calling the fishermen to be fishers of men. I turned to Maddie and said, “Hey, how does he know so much about this story? Do you think he was actually one of the fishermen Jesus called?” Maddie didn’t laugh, but she’s only 6. I laughed. I am the best dad in the world, I thought, as I hugged my daughters tight to my side. And I sat back to listen to the homily, like a good Christian.
In his reflection, the priest talked about how the fishermen smelled like fish and how they were looked down upon by folks because their livelihood lacked prestige. But that didn’t matter to Jesus. He saw through the exterior, through whatever stereotypes existed, to the essence of a person – that they are made in God’s image. Jesus, the priest said, had authority because he practiced what he preached – Judge not lest ye be judged! And I hung my head in shame.
Yesterday Mr. Ciccone prayed about New Year’s Resolutions. It’s never too late to try again, so I’m going to try to work on this for 2014 and I encourage you to try too. Judge not lest ye be judged. Try not to judge a book by its cover, a person by their clothes, or their profession, or their age, or their abilities in academics or athletics or the arts…but to remember that all people are made in God’s image and likeness. Judge not lest ye be judged.
Let us pray.
Father, forgive me for falling short of the mark. For being judgmental or exclusive or arrogant or greedy or wrapped up so much in me that I forget your call to love others. Help me to be better than I’ve been. Help me to live up to being made in your image and likeness.
St. John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.
Matt Daly (Director of Campus Ministry)