You know those screens they had when we were kids? Uncle Joe would wrestle with the tripod legs and pinch his fingers trying to raise the darn thing, then he’d plug in the projector and show his holiday slides until everyone was yawning.
I sometimes feel like one of those projector screens. A woman writes on Twitter, “I read two of your blog posts–one on immigrant and one on Muslims. Both were very worrying to think they were written by a priest.”
I am not sure to which posts she is referring, but I am very careful to never write or preach anything contrary to the Sacred Scriptures or the teaching of the Catholic Church. All I can imagine is that her disappointment in what I had written was not only that she disagreed with it, but that it was a Catholic priest who had written it. In other words, I was not her kind of Catholic priest.
Many people have observed how Jesus Christ becomes just about anything anyone wants him to be. Like statistics, he can prove anything. The left wing peace and justice hippie sees Jesus as a king of flower power Godspell jester. The uptight pious person sees Jesus as righteous judge while the tree hugging eco warrior sees Jesus as a St Francis lover of birds and wolves and flowers. The political revolutionary, meanwhile sees Jesus as a Zealot ready to overthrow the Romans.
You get the idea.
It seems to be the same with priests. People project their ideals and their ideas of what is good onto you and you are supposed to fulfill all those ideals and good ideas, and if you don’t you’re a bad priest.
I don’t really mind this so much because it goes with the territory. Furthermore, I think there are lots of jobs where this happens. Police have to not only be good policemen. They have to live up to what people expect a policeman to be–both for good and ill. Same with school principals, bosses, doctors or most anybody in a leadership position.
What’s the answer? Like most answers it is simple, but not easy.
It means one has to have the courage not only to be oneself, but to get so close to Jesus and Mary that ones own self doesn’t really matter that much. As that process continues ones skin grows thicker and you don’t really mind what people think. You just get on and do your job and try to do your best to be close to all that is beautiful, good and true.
You make mistakes and with a bit of grace you might just see some of them and make amends, and you try to remember St Paul’s words of wisdom, “I am all things to all men.”
Then you try to figure out what on earth that might mean.
Image Creative Commons.