Accidental Christmas Present

We were leaving the church after a Christmas Mass in Polish when we noticed a group of men standing around the priest’s new Volvo. Apparently, someone had hit his car and driven off without anything. I saw a little scratch, but I couldn’t discern any significant damage.

The priest was angry.

He called the parish pastor to let him know it had happened, and he requested that the local priest announce it in Mass, asking for information.

“I guess this is my Christmas present,” said the Polish priest sarcastically.

Perhaps it was.

It seems to me that the material should not be terribly important to a priest. It seems to me he should have been more concerned with the individual who hit his car: what would cause someone to do this? Is this a lack of conscience or a fear of facing consequences? It would have been heartening to hear the priest say something like this.

So maybe it was a Christmas gift. Maybe it was an opportunity to show instead of tell the parishioners that the spiritual is more important and things like cars and iPods are of little value. Perhaps it was a chance to preach with actions rather than words, to show forgiveness and express concern about the mental state — the soul — of the individual who committed the act. Possibly it was an occasion to show selflessness, to show concern for others before showing concern for one’s own silly objects.

The homily had been about having Christ in one’s heart and how God doesn’t force himself on anyone — a fairly common sentiment among Catholics and Protestants alike. I suppose the gift of salvation isn’t the only gift God doesn’t force humans to accept.

Photo: “Ouch” by rossneugeboren at Flickr (obviously not a photo of the car under discussion)

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