Twilight Twitches

fetscherTwenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Family,
Friday was the fifth anniversary of my installation at St. Sebastian as pastor. It hardly seems possible that five years have passed. But then I realized that last Monday was Annie’s 20th anniversary of coming to work at St. Sebastian. That plus the time she worked at St. Clement’s gives her 37 years in the Lord’s service. Of course we all know that the reason she worked all those years for all of us was because of the incredible salary.

What does time mean to any of us? I keep chuckling when I recall a comment someonemade last week about Pope Francis. He had already submitted his resignation (mandatory at 75, like pastors) as Archbishop of Buenos Aires in December of 2011. He was waiting for Rome to appoint a successor. So what do you do when you retire as being the Archbishop of a huge Archdiocese? You become Pope.

I’ve been wondering about this retirement business. The Church probably is right in setting the age as one way of letting a process take care of changing leaders, especially if the leader hasn’t turned out to be the most inspiring. But what a difference in approach if you think about someone like Francis who simply spent his entire life preparing for what he is doing now. In his case age simply is not a factor, much less mandatory retirement.

How much easier it seems it is to be living in such a way that each thing you do is preparing you for the next thing you do. And… the next thing you do is motivated by the two pillars of a spirituality based on gratitude and work. That’s what Francis said at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Evening Prayer. Gratitude and work… whatever stage my life is at, how wonderful if it could be lived in gratitude and in a spirit that motivates me to be for others in some way.

For many years I have been telling older people that perhaps the best thing they could be doing is special intercessory prayer. Their bodies might not be able “to jump tall buildings in a single bound” a la Superman, but their prayers, I think, have great power, precisely because they come packaged in a maturity that helps people finally see what’s important and what isn’t.

For too many people, - and I occasionally think I could fall into this category - retirement becomes something like dying. You quit your job, you make sure that there’s enough money from wherever coming in, preferably on automatic deposit, and then you wait…

I hasten to add that waiting for heaven is not a stop, flop and drop occupation. “I’m done. Now take me, Jesus.” And Jesus might be saying, “Well, Harry, actually, you’re not and I won’t. I’ve got a couple of other things I think you are best-suited to do.” And what Jesus means is, “The other things I have for you to do are the gateways to that heaven I have prepared for you.”

I watched the takeoff of Shepherd One. There in the front of the plane sat Francis at the window, opening a bottle of water and pouring himself a glass. And even though the plane was a good distance out on the runway, Francis probably knew that somewhere someone might have a telescopic lens good enough to see a final and cheerful wave. So he makes the last gracious gesture in a series of countless outreaching stretches that brought the joy of the Lord to countless faces.

As I move toward my 75th, my prayer will be that I’ll have enough good sense to be guided by the example of a great mentor. May grateful action mark the unfolding stages of my life and yours.
In Jesus,
sign frjim

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