by Father Mark Goldasich
“He chose . . . poorly.”
This is one of my favorite movie lines. It comes from 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” In the movie, Indy is searching for the Holy Grail. After avoiding a number of traps, he comes upon a room filled with cups, all guarded by an elderly knight. One of the cups is presumably the Holy Grail. Following on Indy’s heels, however, come Walter Donovan and Elsa, two of the film’s villains.
Seeing the wide variety of cups, Donovan asks, “Which one is it?” The old knight replies, “You must choose, but choose wisely, for the true Grail will bring you life, but the false grail will take it from you.” Donovan defers to Elsa to make the choice and she picks an ornate golden cup encrusted with jewels. Donovan dips the cup in a well and drinks the water. After a few moments, though, he gasps and ages rapidly before Elsa’s eyes, eventually turning into dust.
That’s when the knight delivers his famous line: “He chose . . . poorly.”
Our lives are all about choices. Already in this brand-new year, we’ve made some. We either formulated some new year’s resolutions . . . or we didn’t. And if we made resolutions, we’ve chosen to either follow through . . . or abandon them.
In our spiritual lives, we’re presented with choices as well. We can choose to follow in the footsteps of Jesus or we listen to other voices. Some time ago, I came across this interesting list, written by John Stowell. Check out “The Devil’s Beatitudes”:
Blessed are those who are too tired, busy or disorganized to meet with fellow Christians on Sundays each week. They are my best workers.
Blessed are those who enjoy noticing the mannerisms of clergy and choir. Their hearts are not in it.
Blessed are those Christians who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked. I can use them.
Blessed are the touchy. With a bit of luck, they may even stop going to church. They are my missionaries.
Blessed are those who claim to love God at the same time as hating other people. They are mine forever.
Blessed are the troublemakers. They shall be called my children.
Blessed are those who have not time to pray. They are easy prey for me.
Blessed are you when you read this and think it is about other people not about yourself. I’ve got you! (Found in Anthony Castle’s “More Quips, Quotes & Anecdotes for Preachers and Teachers.”)
In this Year of Mercy, we’re invited to live our Catholic faith with renewed enthusiasm, especially by practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Last Friday, Pope Francis began his first “Friday of mercy.” He’s setting aside one Friday a month during the jubilee to do a “special gesture of mercy.” This time, he visited the Bruno Buozzi rest home for 33 elderly folks on the outskirts of Rome. Also that Friday, the pope stopped in at Casa Iride, a non-hospital, homelike residence for six patients in a vegetative state.
The Vatican Press Office said that the pope visited these places to highlight “the great importance of the elderly and grandparents as well as the value and dignity of life in every situation.”
In this jubilee year, consider setting aside just one day each month to do a special gesture of mercy. Consider Woodeene Koenig-Bricker, a Catholic journalist friend of mine in Oregon, who happened to be in a florist’s shop recently and asked what happened to the “old” flowers. When learning that she could buy them for a song, she did so and began to distribute the flowers spontaneously to oncology centers, nursing homes and even to a veterinarian to give to someone who had to put down a beloved pet.
Dubbing herself “the Flower Fairy Godmother,” she’s now on a mission “to bring a little light into an often dark and painful world.” I love her creative way of making God’s merciful love visible. (If you’d like to know more or even contribute to Woodeene’s efforts, visit her GoFundMe page at Flower Fairy Godmother.)
Every day, we’re given the choice to be selfish or selfless, miserly or prodigal. Let’s pray that at the end of our life, the King of Kings will say to each of us: “You chose . . . wisely!”