From the Heart of Our Regional Minsiter - September, 2015

francis_leper2Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

PEACE to each of your hearts!

In the courthouse where I work, as in many office buildings, there is one special room where everyone congregates … the snack bar! This is the place where you can find everything that health care professionals tell you isn’t at all good for you but which, in times of stress, provides the most comfort. That’s not to say that healthy choices aren’t available, but when given the choice between chocolate cupcakes or trail mix, the chocolate cupcakes win 95% of the time! What makes this place so special isn’t all of the snacks that are available, but the tiny woman who serves the owner of the store. Her name is Marie. She’s an Irish South Philly gal from Epiphany Parish. She’s a retired parish secretary and has held countless jobs in her lifetime. She’s raised a family; her children are adults and living their lives, but Mom’s house is still the place to be on any given Sunday.

Each of us has a place in God’s scheme of things, and Marie’s place, at this period of her life, is with us at the courthouse, because she brings Jesus there. Her workspace is small; her duties are many. She knows what each of her customers like and makes sure that those items are always available. Philly soft pretzels and low-fat chocolate milk are staples for many (me included) and Marie insures there’s a steady supply. But of all the things Marie does, the one thing she does best is LOVE. When you walk into her small domain, her love is as palpable as the cool air flowing from the refrigerator when the door is opened or the welcome smell of coffee coming from the ever-filled pots. A cheery hello is always at the ready and a listening … truly listening … ear awaits each person who walks through her door.

Through her door pass angry prospective jurors, frightened defendants and their families, anxious lawyers, and young and not-so-young employees. Marie takes the “red flannel underwear principle” seriously. Each person she meets is treated with respect, cheerfulness and dignity. She has a special place in her heart for the young … who flock to her like birds to a feeder full of seed. Marie’s little room is truly a “no judgment zone.” You may walk in feeling awful, but you leave with a lighter heart because you have been touched in some small way by unconditional love. A smile or a single word of encouragement can go a long way in the middle of a tough day … Marie provides just that each and every day.

I thought of Marie as I as watching Pope Francis and the People aired by the ABC Network. The compassion, love and encouragement shown by our Holy Father throughout that program mirrors for us the love and compassion of our beloved, Jesus, who yearns for us and begs us to allow Him to walk more closely with us each day of our lives. Let us pray, that we, who profess to live the Gospel life, may be true mirrors of the love of Jesus to others and, in a sense, become “no judgment zones” so as to draw others to the heart of Jesus who is love and forgiveness itself.


Blessings, every good, and much love,


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