Lessons Re-Learned from a Wise Man

Note: This blog originally posted June 23, 2009. It is being re-posted to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the passing of our dear friend and mentor, Rev. Jim Krings.

One of my fondest memories of Rev. James A Krings occurred at a Youth Mass several years ago. Prior to the Gospel, Fr. Krings encouraged us to listen closely to the words and to see if there was anything new that jumped out. I dutifully obliged and listened intently as he proclaimed the Gospel of Matthew about the visit by the Magi.

During his homily, Fr. Krings asked if anyone had heard anything new as they listened to this familiar reading. No one responded; the church was quiet, so I raised my hand and said, “Yes, I don’t think I ever heard the wise men referred to as “the old magi.” Fr. Krings paused for a moment, looked at me with confused look on his face, placed his glasses on his face, and returned to the ambo to consult the scriptures.

After a few seconds, he looked up from the Book of the Gospels, took off his glasses, smiled, and asked me “do you think maybe what you heard was ‘beHOLD’ Magi, not ‘the old’ magi?” My wife looked at me with one of those “you just had to open your mouth” looks and I sank down into the pew and felt like a Southwest Airlines commercial: “You wanna get away?” It was embarrassing, but quite funny!

The magi are also referred to as “wise men” which is what I have learned to appreciate Fr. Krings to be. He has a great gift of spirituality and continues to be a blessing to our community.

We had a prayer service for Fr. Krings last night that was well attended by at least 300 people. As we planned the prayer service I debated how to handle the prayer intentions. In formation, they suggested we never allow people to offer their own intentions during Mass as in doing so such prayers often get off target and become personal instead of being “universal” as intended. The model I was using to prepare the prayer service suggested leaving the prayer intentions open to those in attendance and to encourage them to pray for the groups and ideals that were important in the life of the person for whom the prayer service was being held. I followed the latter suggestion and held my breath when we got to that part of the service. I soon became overwhelmed by the outpouring of thankfulness expressed in the prayers of those who spoke up. It made me realize that we only see a microcosm of a person in our relationship with them, and that there are many (often wonderful) aspects of a person that we never get to experience.

Fr. Krings touched many lives in many ways. I realized last night that my understanding of the man is limited. I have so much to learn from this “wise” man.

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