By FATHER JAMES BEHRENS, OCSO, Commentary | Published May 30, 2019
When I was in high school, I had a paper route. Charlie dropped off the bundles of papers to our house. I never knew his last name. He drove an old battered Ford and the bundles were piled so high on the front and rear seats so that the only visibility he had was from the windshield directly in front of his face. He was a kind man, well on in years and somewhat salty.
I inherited the route from a kid whose name was Ernie Shrieb. He taught me how to fold the papers and arrange them in the canvas bag given me by the Newark Evening News. He also taught me how to handle riding my bike and tossing the papers at the same time. Ernie had a flawless way of tossing the papers so that every one of them landed right where he aimed. He could have landed a newspaper on a brick from one hundred feet away. I admired him and so wanted to be as good a paper heaver as he was but never came anywhere near his expertise.
My delivering of the news ended when I graduated from high school. I never saw Charlie or Ernie again. The years passed and when I entered the seminary, I guess you could say that I became immersed in a different kind of news and worked on the skills that were involved with delivering it. It was, we were told, good news, the news of our redemption as given us through Scripture and the tradition of the church. Vatican II was still very fresh and startling new in those days, its teachings giving one gust after another of fresh and clean air throughout the church.
Those gusts are still blowing as the church struggles to navigate through the many winds of cultural, institutional and global change.
Recent readings from John’s Gospel are among the most beautiful passages in the fourth Gospel. Line after line tells of Jesus offering us friendship, community, even union, with him and his father. Jesus asks that we follow him by loving each other. That is good news. And we are called to receive it and deliver it in this cloistered monastery.
We live in this news every day, ponder it and wonder how best to deliver it. It is not as easy as tossing paper from a bike, though it perhaps takes as much practice. We take the news to heart year after year. It is a news that is alive, that matures the heart, deepens it, expands it to take in all the good news and bad news of this world and offer it back as light, as hope, as a history that has been remembered by God, incarnated by God and redeemed.
And that is the good news. We live here pondering the astounding mystery that the good news that is God within us was delivered a long time ago and is within every person born into this world. And our lives and prayers foster as best we can an awakening among people of this news that is alive, and within them and no longer in need of a delivery yet to come. God has a sure and perfect aim and delivered the best he had for us to keep, to hold, to ponder and to share.
Trappist Father James Stephen Behrens is a monk at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers.