Sunday, January 8, 2012
Joshua and the Shepherd
I am at it again. Reading Joseph Girzone. A Catholic priest who stepped into a writing and speaking outreach. This book cost me one buck at a used book store downtown. Its message cannot be valued. Copyright 1990, Joseph F. Girzone.
The main character is David Campbell, a likeable priest who has just been ordained as a Bishop. To many he is known as upbeat, but definitely "bound by Church Law". Some in his parish have had sad encounters with his intransigence.
But the night following David's elaborate ordination, his sleep is disturbed by a life-changing dream/vision. It is all about shepherding. Being a messenger. Serving over-worked priests with sermons, visitation, counsel- whatever they need. This will necessitate a turning over of a large bundle of administrative and educational work to others of equivalent capacity, and perhaps lay people. This will bring on the fireworks!
In the same epiphany David had a vision of a man approaching him - trim, relatively young, well-groomed, simply attired, hazel eyes. Soon he meets this man in the flesh. His name is Joshua. Their encounters over the weeks amaze David as to his new friend's sensitivity, grasp of the Gospel and inexplicable awareness of David's personal dilemmas.
I will just mention one problem which comes on early in the book. A priest, Ed Marcel has fallen in love with a woman. He cannot deny his need for the love of Maureen; neither his conviction that he has been and remains under a God-given call to ministry. (In many of his writings Girzone has addressed the issue of celibacy. Simon Peter was married.)
A slow-moving solution is posited with the knowledge of some at the Vatican. In the interim Ed must agree to keep the development under wraps and to move to some of the outlying rural areas without priests to give homilies in their simple churches and to evangelize.
Hear the following; it strikes like a bell:
"David himself was impressed with what he had seen in Ed since his return from the workshop and began to realize that this new venture could have dramatic potential in the Church's effort to bring Jesus to people, and not just the unchurched but those faithful ones who were so in love with the Church that they never got to know Jesus."
There are approaches to the question of inter-denominational unity and teamwork, of help for the homeless and disadvantaged, of opportunity for women in ministry. But that will be up to you...to read the book.
And this Joshua. Come out of nowhere. Gardening with David. Living with the homeless at an abandoned property. Telling stories to happy children on his knees. Multiplying the contents of a lunch bag for a large gathering of hungry folk. Proving equally attractive and compelling to Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal and Methodist leaders. Causing them even to consider union. Who might he be? Do we remember how he has prayed and for whom?