Some of you may recall the release of the movie Happy Feet in 2006. I think I saw it five times, a couple short of the Passion of the Christ’s seven times. No one suspects that I am a closet member of PETA, but the Tres Amigos and the general happy tone of this movie made it an occasion for different families inviting me to join them. Now there is a story online about Joao and the Penguin. Joao is a retired bricklayer and part-time fisherman. In 2011, this 71 year old man in Brazil found a South American Magellanic penguin covered in oil, on the rocks and dying. He named him Dondin. He cleaned his feathers and fed him a daily diet of fish until he recovered his health. He released him to the sea, but for eleven months the penguin refused to leave and would follow him home. Eventually he did leave, and for the past five years has spent eight months of the year with Joao and the rest of the time breeding off the coast of Chile and Argentina. He swims up to 5,000 miles to be reunited with the man who saved his life. Some speculate that he may think that Joao is also a penguin. Last week, we celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi and now we continue on that long liturgical period of ordinary time. The story of Joao and Dondin reminds me to ask myself why some believers struggle to get out of bed, or to forego a visit to the theme parks with cousins visiting from New Jersey, or to play the round of golf on another day of the week in order to be nourished with the Body and Blood of the Messiah that died for us.
Granted, it is possible that Dondin may be a closet Third Order Franciscan and a personal acquaintance of Francis of Assisi, but nonetheless, it is hard to justify that he shows more gratitude than some of us who have also been saved and issued an open invitation to Eternal Salvation in Paradise. Will I ever comprehend this amazing mystery of the Eucharist that transpires before my very eyes each time I celebrate or attend Mass?
God Bless, Fr. John