Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Recently I was out to dinner with some couples from the parish who have been married for many, many years and they were raving about the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.  I hadn’t seen it but on their advice I went this past week.  It’s about a group of British retirees who go to Mumbai, India, to live out their retirements. They are enticed to the Marigold by the exaggerated advertisements designed by the young manager, but the run-down hotel is nothing like what is pictured in the slick brochure.  Each of the seven guests deals with the challenges of their new circumstances with varying degrees of English stiff-upper-lip stoicism.

Jean Ainslie is a relentlessly negative woman who despises everything about India: the heat, the food, the poverty, the unrelenting masses. Having lost her retirement savings in her daughter’s Internet start-up, Jean resents both her new life and her foundering marriage. Angry and afraid, she refuses to leave the hotel.

Graham Dashwood, on the other hand is a retired London High Court judge who spent his early years in India. He has an abiding love for the land and deep respect for its people and he shares his affection for India with his fellow guests. One afternoon, Jean finds herself having tea with Graham.  Desperate to leave India, Jean asks the retired high court judge, “How can you bear this country? What do you see that I don’t?”  Graham  replies thoughtfully and immediately, “The light, colors, smiles. And the way people here see life as a privilege and not a right. It teaches me something . . . Why would you not go out?  There is so much to see.   All life is here, Mrs. Ainslie.”

In today’s Gospel Jesus sends the Twelve on their first mission and  instructs them to “travel light” – to focus on the journey and the ministry with which they have been entrusted, not with accumulating wealth, status, and power along the way.  I couldn’t help but think that each of the characters in the Marigold Hotel might be like us at differing times as we live out the Christian mission in our journey of faith.  Graham’s perspective and vision are what people see who are drawn to Jesus’ vision of hope, his optimism, his wisdom, his revelation of God’s loving presence in the “light, colors and smiles” of their everyday lives.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark

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