Soon after Al Smith was elected to his first term as governor of New York, he made an inspection tour of the state prison, “Sing Sing.” After Smith had toured the plant, the warden explained that prison morale was low and he asked the governor to speak some encouraging word to the inmates. Smith agreed and, characteristically, began by saying, “My fellow citizens.” Then he remembered that when one goes to state’s prison he loses his citizenship. Nervously, he tried again. “My fellow convicts,” he said. But that didn’t sound quite right. Embarrassed almost beyond words, Smith then said, “Well, anyhow, I’m glad to see so many of you here.” Despite his good intention, the governor did little to uplift prison morale that day. After his unfortunate choice of words in greeting the inmates, everything else was downhill.
By way of contrast, in today’s Gospel episode, Christ’s first words to Peter and Andrew have a curious explosiveness. Their extraordinary economy and completeness struck Peter…
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