By Father Marty Goetz
(Editor’s note: The following column is a combination of two homilies Father Marty Goetz gave in the past few weeks.)
“On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.”
Something happened to me this past week I want to share with you: I was at a parish in the Davenport Diocese and, as I do sometimes, I took out my Roman collar and placed it around a boy’s neck. As I was doing this, his mother said: “There is no way my son is going to be a priest! I want him to be happy!”
Is this the image we priests are giving? That we aren’t happy? People must be observing us carefully!
A few weeks ago I was in a golf tournament and a couple of my “teammates” said: “Father, we’re smoking cigars, drinking and cussing. Just like all good Catholics!” (And for the record, I was not smoking a cigar, drinking or cussing.)
And I thought to myself: “Is this the image we’re giving to other people? Do they realize the beauty and joy of our faith? Do they realize we have a precious gift in the Eucharist and the sacraments? Do they realize we experience the power of the Word of God every week? Do they realize the works of charity and love given every day? Do they realize that through the power of the cross, we are loved, forgiven and offered salvation?” People must be observing us carefully!
The next day, when I was running with my friend, I told him about these experiences I’d just had. He asked me, “What did you say?” I am embarrassed to admit this, but I SAID AND DID NOTHING! At the time I didn’t think a response would be appropriate but hindsight is always 20-20. Yeah, I behaved on the golf course, but could I have done more?
We are the ones sent out to proclaim the Kingdom of God. We are the ones chosen to bring and share the Good News to all we meet. In all that we say and do, we make Jesus present in our world — or fail to do so. In all we say and do, we commit our lives to him. In all we say and do, we are disciples of Jesus. In all we say and do, the way of Christ is to be our way. And as priest, deacon, religious or the laity of the Diocese of Davenport, we are called to share this with the world. Because how can we draw young people to a vocation when we don’t live it ourselves? How can we draw people into our faith and Church when we don’t live it ourselves?
What about the people you will meet today and this week? Your family, your neighbors, the people you work with, the people you golf or run with. You’re being sent to all of them to share a wonderful gift — the gift of our call and faith. And people are observing us carefully!
I wonder: what kind of example have I been as a priest? Have I been joyful in my priesthood? Have I lived my faith? What will you do this week?