I was walking out of 7-11 and a man held the door for me. He was very nice and smiled. He seemed a bit startled that a priest would go to 7-11. He asked “Are you a Catholic priest?” I told him I was. He told me his mother was Catholic and his father was Jewish. I asked him what that made him. He wasn’t sure. We were blocking the door to 7-11. That is a no-no. You don’t block the door to 7-11. People are in a rush for their coffee and slurpees. Don’t get in their way. Priest or no priests, they will knock you over. So my new friend and I stood to the side.
Since he was a bit older, I asked him if is parents were in heaven with God. He didn’t know that either. He wasn’t sure because his mother always told him not to bother God, and so he never did. Never! I told him his mother may have been mistaken. God indeed wants us to “bother” Him….a lot. He wants us to talk to Him and come to Him with all our cares, our troubles and our concerns. All of them! I told Him that the worst thing in the world is not to “bother” God, but to ignore Him. That drives God crazy, when we ignore Him. A lot of people do that; they ignore God. He wants us to “bother” Him. He is Our Father, and He wants us to come to Him as any child would come to His Father for anything and everything; from the complex to the mundane: the mortgage, the sick relative, the lost car keys. Imagine how your earthly father would feel if you ignored him.
I never got his name. As he walked inside to buy his lottery tickets he stopped and turned. He yelled back: “I like that. I am going to think about that.”
Why am I telling you this story? Because there are countless opportunities throughout the day to preach the Gospel. It can be done in simple ways and in the oddest places. The Gospel is not always preached in the pulpit, but in the simple and everyday opportunities that cross our paths. Even at 7-11.
Saint Francis of Assisi said it best: “Preach the Gospel, and when necessary, use words.”
Fr. Gerard Gordon