Ex 34: 4-6; 8-9. 2 Cor 13: 11-13. John 3: 16-18
The readings today speak about Hospitality. It is a perfect theme for this occasion in my final Sunday homily as your pastor. It is a perfect theme because you received me, five years ago on August 8, 2015 with hospitality and most warmly.
That first week I received a note in my mailbox from one of our senior parishioners. It was written on the back of an envelope, and I still have it. She declared herself the great grandmother of, the grandmother of, the mother of and the wife of… down the lineage. Of course, I did not know any of these people that first week – not even the writer and sender of the note, but of course, I have come to know everyone exceedingly well since then.
She was trying to convince me of what a wonderful this parish is. She enclosed a photocopy of a letter the parish had received. It had come from a friend of a priest who had died here. It described how he was laid out in the central aisle of the church. The parishioners had kept vigil over his body all through the night. Now this scared me half to death! I thought to myself: this woman is telling me I’m going to die here! At least that’s how I took it. I was ready to run for the hills! At that time, my first week here, away from Lexington, I felt very out of place, like a stranger in a strange land.
That quickly changed. Now I would be happy to be laid out here! Why? How? I’ll tell you! It’s all about you. It’s all about the people. Every parish to which a priest is sent, as the Gospel tells us today, is all about the people; It’s about being received. It’s all about Hospitality, the theme of today’s first reading and Gospel. You embraced me, and I hope you experienced me as embracing you. Although I am leaving you as Pastor, I will remain with you as a parishioner and neighbor; and as a citizen of Harrodsburg and of Mercer County. So far as I know! I also know that you will receive my successor Father Miguel with the same warm hospitality. I know you will do the same for Father David, beginning Wednesday.
Cada parroquia a la que se envía un sacerdote, como nos dice el evangelio hoy, se trata de la gente. Se trata de hospitalidad, el tema de las lecturas de hoy. Me recibiste, y espero que me hayas experimentado como recibiéndote. Aunque me voy como pastor, me quedaré con usted como feligrés y vecino aquí en Harrodsburg. Sé que recibirás al Padre David este miércoles y a mi sucesor, el Padre Miguel, con la misma cálida hospitalidad.
By way of apologies, to anyone to whom I have looked the wrong way or in the wrong tone of voice, I apologize. I am the first to admit that I do not walk on water. I know my follies and my foibles. The older one gets the more one becomes aware of them. For these things I say, mea culpa.
More to this moment, I say: “Thanks for the memories.” So long – but not farewell. I’ll be seeing you in all the old, familiar places! Keep welcoming people. As Jesus says in the Gospel today, surely you will not lose your reward.