Wednesday, February 3, 2010

For Johnny

In elementary school, there are two guys who were my best friends. And, I’m proud to say, they’re still my friends today. I’m going to write about them in the order I met them.

Johnny and I were friends since, literally, the first week of school. We met in pre-kindergarten. Johnny was also, by pure coincidence, is a Roman Catholic. Growing up in a Protestant home, I only heard of the things they do, such as praying/worshipping Mary and other idols. Well, in my view at the time, at least they still got Jesus, so it couldn’t be as bad as the other religions.

I guess it was my friendship with Johnny that always prevented me from becoming a full-on anti-Catholic. And looking back, it was my friendships with worshippers of other faiths throughout my life that kept me from being uncharitable toward their religion. As early at the age of 8, I was already exploring what other religions taught. But before I get into that, this post is about Johnny.

One of the most ridiculous memories I have of Johnny was him making a clown out of himself; and a particular memory of pre-k stand out as he placed a toy on his head as a hat. He made look cool to be the class clown. He was the equalizer in the class. There wasn’t anyone in the class too cool or too socially awkward for him to be friends with. This particular gift of self-deprecation, it seems to me, allowed for our friendship to be restored after its estrangement.

As a rule, my series on my friends will be nothing but positive things about them. Last August, my sister took me to visit the University of Houston campus. As I went to see some old friends, like Kristine and Chris, they invited me to come to Mass with them at the UH Catholic Newman Center. I obliged.

Johnny and I hadn’t seen each other since 7th grade. We were enemies at the time. And I mean the full sense of the word enemy. It’s part of the reason why I went to alternative school, but I won’t tell you about that now, that’s another story. Over nine long years before Johnny and I were reconciled again, and you know why it was possible? I’ll tell you why.

In literature, when you see people eating together, it shows a pretty big deal. Because when people are breaking bread, it means they’re not busy breaking heads. So, as I pretty much expected, Johnny was at the Mass too. And there was no way, absolutely no way, I could have gone to receive Christ in the Eucharist at the Holy Mass with a grudge on the side. “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Another thing, small thing, I would like to point out is: during the intercession, one of the staff workers at the Newman Center asked for prayers for the recent late Ted Kennedy. And in my mind revolted! Prayer for him! But that’s what we’re supposed to do isn’t it. Pray for your enemies. That day, it was an uneventful day for me mostly, but it was probably one of the most grace-filled days as it re-oriented me to see where I am and where I am not. Again, that’s another blog to be written.

For me to be friends with Johnny again, it’s an honor. For me to be in the Catholic family with Johnny, it’s a grace.

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