A Face

by Fr. Jeff

I always love when a day brings an unexpected surprise. I find that in priesthood, it’s Your way of breaking up my routine and showing me that You are still ultimately creative.

Perhaps there’s an unwritten motto that all priests live by,

Expect the unexpected.

You threw me one of those unexpected surprises today. I spent an hour at the school on some business and visiting with the children. It’s always a joy.

When I returned to the church, the unexpected was waiting for me. It was in the form of a chartered bus. As I parked in the carport, my mind was filled with one expression: ?

This is Jennings, after all. Why would a tour bus be parked in front of our church? Our population is about ten thousand people. Most of our teenagers would be stupefied to learn that a tour bus was in Jennings. I stepped into the office to inquire about the unexpected.

“A tour group from Jefferson Parish. They came to look at our stained glass windows.” Actually, that’s a good idea. We do have lovely German glass. “Yup, our teens would be shocked that a group from New Orleans came to Jennings instead of the other way around.”

I felt a quick tug at my heart to greet these unexpected visitors. After all, that’s how You often speak to me these days: quick, subtle, and to the point.

Entering the church, I was met by a bus load of lovely ladies from Jefferson Parish. And Santa hats. Did I mention that they were all wearing Santa hats?

With a big smile on my face, I welcomed them to our parish. Their first reaction was delight. Their second was surprise. Delighted surprise: “Father, are you even old enough to be a priest?!” With some laughter and a short conversation, I gave them the 90 second story of my life and my vocation.

It was a very pleasant surprise. And, it was one filled with joy.

Looking back, I have to wonder. Why did You tug at my heart to go into the church and greet our guests? Was there some great reality You wanted me to share with them? Or was it simply Southern Hospitality?

The answer is both:

This photo is on the wall in our private chapel in the rectory. I’ve always been touched by her expression.

Now, I get it. You wanted me to put a face on the Church. Sure, the glass is pretty and the images communicate some divine realities to us.

But the greatest communication of Your love and Your reality is one that only You can create:

a face.