Out Of The Bathroom
This happened very early in my priesthood.
I was listening to the confessions of small
children and since there were no lines waiting,
I entertained myself to a conversation with
John, a small tiny kid of six.
"Do you love God?" I started. "Of
course, Father!" was his immediate answer.
"And can you tell me where he is?"
I expected the normal obvious answer 'everywhere',
so you can imagine my surprise when he said,
"God is in the bathroom".
This answer startled me. I was expecting
anything but that. "What?!" I exclaimed,
looking as composed as I could. "Why
in the bathroom?!"
"Yes, God is in the bathroom",
he reassured me calmly. "Just before
I came here to Church, my mum gave me a shower
and I forgot hanging in the bathroom, the
medallion of Jesus that I always carry around
I just said 'hmmm' on the outside, but inside
I laughed heartily at the naivety of this
A boy has the right to be naive and unsophisticated.
However this simplicity becomes problematic
when we carry it in our later years. My experience
tells me that many of us carry the same misconception
all throughout our lives.
Deep down we believe that religion is something
that has value or utility only within the
Church walls. Outside, life is different.
Outside, we shed off our 'religious' garb
and start thinking and acting differently.
Jesus Christ has nothing to do with sports,
work, family life, business, leisure... I
remember once taking cue of a very important
soccer tournament that was going on at the
time, to bring out a point in a homily. A
parishioner apparently took this reference
to soccer badly because he sent me a letter
expressing his disapproval. "Jesus Christ
has nothing to do with sports", he concluded
in his letter.
Really? I beg to disagree. I believe that
Christianity is an all-encompassing reality
that can and should permeate our whole life.
There is no split between religion and life.
Religion is about life. And life can become
religion - a liturgy of thanksgiving and
of union with God.
Outside of the bathroom, God can make life
One thing, for example, that bothers us in
life is fear. Fear of tomorrow, fear of darkness,
fear of not being loved, fear of not finding
the right job, fear of not having enough
money to pay our bills, fear of what may
happen to our kids, fear of getting sick,
fear of failing an exam, fear of being reprimanded...
fear... fear.. fear...
Sometimes this fear is so big that it eats
us from inside. Other times it is so subtle
that it paralyses us. Why are we afraid?
Because we feel that the situation we are
in is bigger than us. We believe we do not
have the inner resources to tackle it adequately.
The Word of God however goes even deeper.
(This is how religion helps us in life!)
The first time the word 'fear' appears in
the Scripture is after the sin of Adam and
Eve. "I heard you in the garden and
I was afraid because I was naked and I hid..."
This is very interesting!
No one believes that there is a relationship
between sin and fear. Everyone believes that
sin is fun. Sin is exciting, enjoyable! Sin
is good, we think.
But the Word of God tells us that sin is
poison. It weakens us. It destroys us. God
told Adam not to sin not because sin offended
God but because sin harmed Adam and God did
not want Adam to be hurt.
Sin empties us of out inner strength. Gradually
life becomes boring and we start being disgusted
with ourselves. Sin weakens us.
On the contrary sanctity strengthens us.
It bolsters our inner stamina. Because all
the supernatural aid that is available in
heaven trickles into us and gives us inner
resources unimaginable before.
Take Amma Sarah. She was a woman who went
to live in the desert to be constantly near
to God and to help the world through her
intercession to heaven. It is related that
for thirteen years she waged warfare against
the demon of fornication. However she never
prayed that the warfare should cease but
on the contrary she pleaded "O God,
give me strength'. She knew she could make
it with his power.
Take Abba Bes. Once a hippopotamus was ravaging
the countryside just outside the desert where
abba Bes, one of the desert Fathers lived.
The people came to him asking for help. He
left his cell and went waiting for this enormous
beast to come forward. The moment he saw
it coming, he looked into its eyes and commandingly
ordered her "In the name of Jesus Christ,
I order you not to ravage this countryside
anymore." The hippopotamus turned around
and calmly went away. It never came back.
Take the cab driver in Ireland. "What
are you reading?" a man asked as he
entered the cab. "The New Testament,
Sir." "Why do you read it?"
"I love it, Sir." "What is
your creed?" "Very simple, Sir:
Believe in what Christ has said. Obey all
that Christ has commanded. Expect all that
Christ has promised."
Let us bring God out of the bathroom!!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright