I went to buy a bamboo plant the other day. The guy who was selling them was named Richard Seabury. He is a former Army Special Forces guy who was in from 1959 to 1964. He was born in New York City but spent most of his life except for his time serving the country in Southern Florida.
After he got out of the service he served as a body-guard for a wealthy woman and was able to buy a few acres and set himself up in business selling bamboo. He invested wisely and now has cut back and is semi-retired. He opens up his bamboo business only when he feels like it. I was lucky that the day I called him looking for bamboo he felt like doing some business so I went to his location.
We talked about things – an old Army guy and old Marine – we found we were probably in the Philippines at the same time or if not there in Okinawa. He had a way of expressing himself that was quite, as we Marines say, salty which is all right when you are out in the boondocks but I was with my wife. She heard some expressions she never quite heard before. But some guys can carry it off so very naturally that it does not come across wrongly.
Richard has written a novel. He compared it to The Confederacy of Dunces but suggests it is better. The name is “Horace Bixby.” I’ve yet to read it but will since I told him that I would.
How does all this tie into Good Friday — well as part of the conversation Richard asked me if I was a good Catholic – all I knew of his religious beliefs is he said he was related to Judge Samuel Seabury who he said was a strict Presbyterian. The judge had something to do with prosecuting New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker.
I answered him that I thought I was – really didn’t know what else to say not knowing where the conversation was heading — but it then went off in another direction.
I got thinking of that conversation as I was watching Pope Francis last night on television. I did not intend to but the sparsity of things that interested me on the television stranded me on a network where I watched him washing of the feet of ten people. Ninety-percent or more of the people present were people of color.
The old Pope with all the difficulties inherent in old age carrying his weight set about the task of washing the feet of ten people, all migrants in Rome. He’d stand, then kneel down, pour the water, wash and dry a foot, bend down to kiss it and then struggle to get up again. There were seven men and three women, two of whom carried infants. The women were from Eritrea, the men from Nigeria, Mali, Syria, Pakistan and India. It was a mixture of Catholics, Coptic East Orthodox, Muslims and one Hindu.
The Pope earlier said that to encounter the Lord: “We need to go out to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters.” At the washing he said: “We have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace,” Again he said: “All of us, together: Muslims, Hindi, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals. But brothers, children of the same God. We want to live in peace, integrated.”
I watched him on his knees. I thought of the question that Richard asked me. How dare I say I was a good Catholic? There before my eyes was a good Catholic. What have I done that in any way compares to him who at the top of his power lowers himself to bow before the people who the world has turned their eyes against. Seeing this gesture of love and service made me conscious of the evils our presidential candidates bark at us.
Jesus taught us that besides loving God the only other thing we have to do is love our neighbor as our self. He explained in the parable of the Good Samaritan who was our neighbor: it is anyone in need or distress.
Traditionally one is supposed to reflect on Good Friday between the hours of noon and 3:00 pm. If you do then think of the Pope, the Good Samaritan and what is demanded of us as brothers and children of God. Think of the vileness and hatred that has lately encapsulated our politics. Ask yourself if you believe in Jesus what would He expect of you? Understanding that will give you an idea of the road you must take.