by Father Mark Goldasich
I’m expecting a call from Pope Francis in the next few days. Quite Francis in the next few days. Quite frankly, I’m not looking forward to it.
You see, about a week ago, I got a new car. And I suspect from things the pope said back on July 6, 2013, that I’ve caused him some pain.
“It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car,” he said. “A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one. If you like a fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.”
When that dreaded call from Pope Francis comes, I hope that I’ll be able to ease his heart a little by making the following points.
First, I haven’t had a new car in seven years. Since the number 7 in the Scriptures signifies “completeness,” I thought it was time to buy a new car.
Second, I make sure that I’m a good steward of the vehicle by driving attentively and maintaining the car’s mechanical health. (What I’ve not been so good about is keeping the interior of the car clean and clutter-free.)
Third, I’ve never bought a car as a status symbol. This new car, being a 2014, is also definitely not the “latest model” — after all, there were 2015s available. (Being a Jesuit himself, I hope the pope will appreciate my Jesuitical thinking on this point.)
Fourth, I tried to be frugal, buying the car at the end of the model year when the price is more affordable.
Lastly, it’s a Honda. Maybe the pope will be swayed by a 2013 article entitled, “In the Land of Boring, Honda is King.” While this car might not fall under the category of “humble” exactly, it’s not what I would call fancy.
What I like so much about this pope is that he makes me think and reflect — not only about the great mysteries of God, but about what my ordinary life (like the car I drive) says about my faith. Pope Francis challenges me to live a simpler life and, in doing so, to assist others in the world to have a better life.
When I cleaned out my old Honda, I was stunned to see all of the stuff that had accumulated in the interior, under the seats, in the glove box and in the trunk. Yes, my car had become a mobile junkyard. I uncovered things that I’d forgotten I even owned. And I thought about those hungry kids in the world that the pope mentioned.
My clean car is a pleasure, and I’m committed to keeping it orderly. I intend to take to heart the delightful story of author Philip Yancey about a man who went to a monastery for a few days to step away from his busy life.
“I hope your stay is a blessed one,” said the monk who met this visitor at the monastery door and led him to his room. “And, if you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to ask . . . and we’ll teach you how to live without it!”
Now that it’s autumn, perhaps we all need to take a look at those “buried treasures” that might be clogging up our cars and let those items that we don’t use or need or want “fall” into the hands of people who could make good use of them. It truly is a revelation to realize what we can live without.
Incidentally, if the above arguments for my new car don’t convince the pope, he’ll be pleased to know that I’ve now begun to make regular, generous donations to charities that feed the hungry children in the world.