Why are there so many jokes about a priest walking into a bar? Why was it so powerful when Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress? Same reason. The premise of the priest-in-a-bar joke is that someone holy has walked into an unholy place.
Bars–or so the jokes suppose–are places where people say and do questionable things they wouldn’t want their priest to know about. The priest represents conscience or virtue. It’s ironic.
When Pope Francis addressed Congress–also a place where people say and do questionable things–it was the proverbial priest walking into a bar. It was ironic.
Try a little free association: what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word corruption. Politician anyone? It’s the first thing I think of. For many, however, the first thing they think of is the Church, and the papacy has often been a symbol of that corruption.
However, not with Pope Francis. He is different. Taking the name of Francis, he is living much more simply and seems to be intent on leveraging his influence for the least of these, the marginalized, and for peace.
The Pope’s presence in a joint session of congress shines a light on how far off course America’s halls of government are. His voice reminds them that they are not primarily responsible to their constituents or party, but that they are responsible to God first and foremost. A priest walks into a bar; a Pope addresses congress (at least this Pope)… same thing.
A priest walked into a bar and the bartender said, “What’ll it be, Father.”
“Well, I tell you. I think I’ll just sit here for awhile,” he said. “You see I gave my last cent to a homeless man on the corner, so I haven’t any money for a whiskey tonight.”
An avowed atheist was sitting on the stool right next to him. He began laughing and chiding the priest, “Why don’t you pray for God to provide you with a drink, Father? Don’t you think God could do that for you?”
“Actually, that’s a good idea,” he said, and he bowed his head and closed his eyes to pray silently.
Thinking it would be funny, the atheist quickly handed a five-dollar bill to the bar-tender and motioned for him to put a shot of whiskey right in front of the priest. When the priest finished his prayer and opened his eyes he saw the shot of whiskey and said, “Oh, thank you Lord, for giving me this whiskey!”
The atheist, laughing so hard he could barely speak said, “It wasn’t the Lord! I bought you that whiskey!”
Without missing a beat, the priest amended his prayer, “Thank you Lord, for not only giving me this whiskey, but for making the atheist pay for it!”