Sunday, March 8, 2009


David Koepp, the director of Ghost Town, said, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in ghost stories.” When confronted with “God stories,” those little amazing incidents in our lives, we tell the story with a bit of a shy nature for while the story is true, we fear the reaction of others who would much rather chalk it up to extreme coincidence or some other factor – in fact, anything but God who might think us a bit off. I too am cautious by nature with “God stories,” but am always open to the possibility that God likes to pull little scenes together. These moments are not as dramatic as the parting of the Red Sea (though there are plenty who would find other explanations for the slicing of the water) yet not quite subtle enough just to write off. It is one of these stories that I share with you this week.

After Mass I generally stand by the front doors of the church to shake hands. A couple came up with startled looks on their faces. “May we ask you a quick question,” they asked. This is always a scary proposition. The fact that someone feels the need to ask permission to ask a question usually means that the question is in fact not going to be quick and that everyone else in line will have to be ignored. But what can you say?


“Did you plan to quote John XXIII today in your homily?”

This was an odd question. Not one I’ve ever been asked before. In actuality I did not and further did not quote him the night before when I gave the same homily. The quote came to me at the second I gave it during the homily. It was simply something that seemed to fit really well at the moment. (A further thought just came to me. I hadn’t even intended on giving this homily. I was going in a completely different direction but this idea kept haunting me.) Anyway, so I told them it was a fluke and they walked away looking even more startled.

When the last person in line had passed they came back. “We have a story to tell you,” they said. She began, “My husband was offered a job in another state and had been going back and forth. I interviewed with a school there named after John XXIII and was offered a job. Well, don’t you know right after that, my husband was offered another job here in Cleveland! We felt torn and came to Mass today looking for direction. I told God that if we were to move to another state to mention John XXIII today in the homily or something AND THEN YOU DID!”

So I’m sorry to be losing parishioners but what are you going to do after THAT?

Which goes to show another point: Is it not swell that we do not know what God wants us to do with every last detail of our lives? We would have choices in NOTHING. We would wake up every morning (when we were supposed to) and have every second filled with knowing exactly what we were to do. Every choice to anything otherwise (having the grape jelly instead of the marmalade) would constitute major sin in the rejection of God and His will. And there would be no surprises. A message like, “Move to the other state,” would have been as common and uninteresting a story as, “You should stop at the stop sign.”

I love a God that likes to have fun.


Adoro said...

Hmm...have never thought of God that way, but you know, you're right. He IS playful!

Immutable and...likes to have fun. lol!

Anonymous said...

What I love about this story is that, as you subtley put it, you had to choose to go with what was "haunting you" instead of the direction you originally wanted to go. This "haunting" seemed to have started before the prayer of your soon to be ex-parishioners! How cool is that?! What a great story of God's omniscience, and our interconnectedness as a body of Christ!

MJ said...

Just like getting to the school where I now teach. The principal that called me to be a substitute teacher one year and then hired me the next year, was at the school only those 2 years. On top of that she got my name from one of only 2 schools that I had given my resume. The Holy Spirit will get you to where you need to be if only you are open to Him.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Fr. V! Love this story! It's always amazing to see how God works!