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Pajero Reminder of Human-ness

Life, as we live it, has this habit of once in a while issuing stark reminders that put how we look at things in a different perspective. Sort of like cutting through the crap just to say what really is rather than what we think is…

The Mitsubishops – or Pajero Seven, take your pick – fiasco is one of those. Truth be told, I get tired of watching it every frigging night on the news. Yet, undeniably, it is one of those things that force all of us – those of the cloth and the rest of us who call ourselves the Faithful – to take a step backwards and look at the big picture with more thoughtfulness than we all normally do.

Catechism teaches us that the priest, particularly at the moment that he consecrates the Bread of Life, becomes for all intents and purposes Jesus Christ Himself. Each and every man of the cloth, we are all taught, is a caretaker of the Church that the Lord placed upon Peter’s hands to build.

We all have stories of men of the cloth who so believed this Catholic hype. Indeed, there are those who throw their weight about the place in ways that Jesus Christ Himself would have cringed at and was never known to have done.

Once, we had this big Catholic event at in school. We allowed the local Church free use of a venue for the event and came in gratis one Saturday morning in support of it.

One young cleric asked to be let into the control booth because, as he said, there was a better view of the proceedings. There was a large sign on the door that said AUTHORIZED PERSONS ONLY. But I said yes because of the collar; albeit, I was careful to say to the cleric that only he was going to be allowed in, else I would be breaking our own rules…

Were I in his place, I would have been eternally grateful that the Church was getting the venue for free and that school personnel were coming in gratis on a non-working day as well. But the cocky young priest wanted to bring in more of his staff; and asked in a way that stung my ears. Had he asked kindly, I would have been liberal. Instead, I said yes to one more but also made my displeasure evident. And I did not care if he felt affronted…

Years later, I happened to offhandedly mention this incident to another young cleric – this time, one with his feet firmly on the ground – and, surprisingly, he pointed the finger at some of the Faithful themselves as the reason why some men of the cloth begin to believe the hype of their own standing in society and their infallibility.

Food for thought, indeed! Have I not noticed, the other young cleric asked, how people tend to fawn upon men of the cloth when they arrive in events and gatherings? Do they not get served the best food and invited to sit at the best tables? Do they not get the royal treatment when they visit the homes of their parishioners? It must be heady stuff!

I have had reason, though, to wonder if that holier-than-thou attitude is not first picked up right when men of the cloth first study for the priesthood. Years ago, my college team was playing against a team from one of the local seminaries. Midway through the match, a group of seminarians arrived to cheer on their team.

My word; that had got to be the most foul-mouthed lot that ever came to any of the football games I attended in three decades of coaching! They had a priest with them, too – he wore the Roman collar. I told my boys on the bench to ignore the jibes – we were not going to stoop down to that level!

I suppose all I am trying to say here is exactly the same as what the PCSO scandal has pointed out to all of us: that men of the cloth, despite what we all sometimes make them out to be, are – after all is said and done – really just as human as you and me.

Personally, my take on things is that a four-wheel drive in the boondocks is not at all a luxury. Instead, it is a necessity. Of course, much to Margie Juico’s chagrin, some of the vehicles comically turned out not to be four-wheel drives at all.

But that is entirely beside the point; the point is that there are few things more perplexing and even downright unnerving than seeing and hearing bishops publicly apologizing for having been inappropriate. Considering how ebullient and sometimes even belligerent men of the cloth can be over certain issues – and even in our daily lives, as mentioned earlier – the public apologies were as stark a portrayal as it could possibly get of the shoe being in the other foot.

Whatever Franklin Drilon said to Jessica Soho the other night, the senators conducting the inquiry had their knives sheathed. Still, the veneer of infallibility that some of us sometimes tend to wrap the clergy with was undeniably pierced. Not that I have to say it all over again, we were all just reminded of the human-ness of those who we sometimes place in pedestals that they do not need to be.

Even men of the cloth would have benefited from that reminder that life dealt all of us. After all, the Son of Man took on the body of pain that we all wear in this mortal plane just so He could live among us rather than above us.
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