Monday, April 6, 2015


SERVANT KING by Melinda Gallone (

It was Holy Thursday.  My wife and I had celebrated our priesthood at the Chrism Mass on Tuesday evening.  It was the perfect introduction to the Sacred Triduum.  The immense church was filled and every person there seemed to be deeply engaged in the Sacrament.  The homily was very good, but stopped, rather than ended in what the French call "a fish tail."  It was a well-crafted 1,000 word effort.
Wednesday was a day of prayer, organizing the work area and preparing to spend a day or so at home, including Holy Thursday and Good Friday. You can tell by the lovely watercolor that this is about Holy Thursday, in a way, but, as the saying goes, "you really had to be there..."
So, let's go there.
After a lifetime of hearing Holy Thursday sermons and homilies about humility, service, the glories of the ordained priesthood and the role of the priesthood infused at Baptism, etc. I heard one that got my attention and sent me away the richer for the experience.
It turns out that it was the personal testimony of the Vietnamese Priest at the altar, young pastor of a relatively small parish in San Diego, part territory and part "national/cultural."
He started by telling us that the Sacred Triduum is a celebration of boundless love.  Jesus enveloped in a towel and washing the feet of the disciples is a picture of infinite, eternal love brought to us from heaven.  Now the parable part of the story.  (Not a quotation; a paraphrase)

You have heard parts of my life experience and you are living a part of it with me now.  You know that I escaped from Viet Nam with my brother and sister.  I was ten years old.  We got to a refugee camp where we lived for two years.  I was miserable.  My brother and sister did what they could for me.  Then one day a priest appeared.  A big white man who was a powerful presence in the camp.  He arrived there from Australia.  He was kind, but there was not much, if anything that he could do for me.
His presence there was a mystery to me.  Why would a person such as he come from a rich, comfortable country like Australia to a refugee camp?  How could a person such as he be happy in such a place as this?  Yet, there he was, always calm, always happy, always available, always kind, always more than anything, he was filled with love for everyone..  He was THERE.
It was he whom God used to convince me that I should be a priest.  Now I am not in a refugee camp any more.  I am no longer miserable.  I can't do much for anybody except to be present.  I can't do much for anyone except to love, just like Jesus, just like the priest in the refugee camp, be there in love.
I am comfortable with that, and here is why.
The priest could do small things for us, and he did.  Of course, it was never enough.
I can do small things for you and of course, they would never be enough.
When we give something to someone, or do something for some one, it always has limits.  We only have one thing that we can do that doesn't have any limit.  That is to give our loving presence.  Loving presence is a spiritual gift that has no bounds.  Love is infinite and it is eternal.  Love that is brought to the world, to those who need it, by our presence is God's infinite and never ending gift to them.  That's what Jesus brought to His disciples.  It is what Jesus brings to us.  It is what we can bring to others by being present.  It's what we will bring with us to heaven too, by the way.
When Jesus wrapped the towel around His waist, what He was giving is infinite, eternal love and it remains with us now and forever.

So, when you hear that I have died, don't buy a plane ticket for me, go visit someone who needs your presence, not in tears for me but with a smile on your lips and love in your heart.


Post a Comment