Over the past few months my wife, Jana, and I have developed the habit of watching the TV series Blue Bloods. Now let me say at the outset that TV dramas or comedies are hard for me as I find the superciliousness of them to be absolutely nerve racking. But, after a series of sessions in which I conditioned myself to watch the family Regan do battle with the issues of our time, through police eyes, I developed a true affection for the dinner table repartee in which the family works its way through the juxtaposition of real life material events and a philosophic panoply consisting among other things of the principles embodied in the Constitution of the United States and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The Id (ala Sigmund Freud) of the group is the Danny character the son of police commissioner Regan, a police detective himself that is street wise and hardened to the reality that most people will do wrong if the opportunity presents itself. The counter weight to Danny’s gutter philosophy is Erin and Jamie, Erin is the no nonsense ADA (Assistant District Attorney) who combines her no nonsense demeanor with the compassion of a Saint. Jamie is a Harvard educated juris doctor (lawyer) who has decided that his service as a policeman will have a much greater impact than if he joined a Wall Street law firm, or it could be just fear of the bar exam, to which I can easily relate.
Each episode contains a family discussion of some issue (like gun control, abortion, or diplomatic immunity) which brings the family into conference over how to reconcile their Catholic faith with what has to be done in the “real world”. Frank (short for Francis Xavier) , the police commissioner patriarch played by Tom Selleck, always resolves the issue with an ex cathedra pronouncement which somewhat resembles a cross between the wisdom of Solomon and the prophet Jeremiah.
One recent episode in particular struck a nerve. It seems a “peace group” had decided to hold a rally protesting a war, or an intervention, or something, and the police found out that the leader had decided to burn a United States national flag as a way of impressing upon the public the seriousness of the protest. Now Francis, the commissioner, was worried that such an act would touch off a great deal of violence as many veterans and family of veterans would be deeply offended by an act such as a flag burning.
It turns out Frank’s suspicions were confirmed not by an outbreak of violence in the streets but rather by a member of his own close knit group within One PP ( One Police Place). Detective Gormley the chief of D’s (detectives) was asked by Frank to infiltrate the protesters to provide needed intel and to make sure that potential violence was eliminated or at least held to a minimum. Well, Gormley, in effect, refused the assignment on the basis that his family had lost any number of its members in defense of the flag and he was not about to be part of witnessing its desecration through a burning.
At this point Frank made it clear to detective Gormley that he was not issuing a “request” but rather an order. Gormley with reluctance “stood down” realizing that in the end Frank was the commissioner and his boss. As it turns out Frank had engaged in a stratagem to prevent any potential violence from occurring as well as preventing the flag burning. He was able to have the venue of the protest transferred to the very cemetery where the leader’s father, a distinguished war hero, was buried. It was Frank’s hope that the son would not dishonor his father by burning the very flag the father had died for at the site of his burial. And it turned out he was right. There was no flag burning and no violence and all was well as it ended well.
Next day Gormley was in the commissioner’s office with no hesitation in his praise of the commissioner’s strategy. Apologizing for the appearance of any disrespect he was cut short by Frank’s immediate response. I knew you meant no disrespect and “I know that you and your family had endured more than your share of sacrifice which is a scared thing – but what we do here is no less sacred”.
It is this last line which cuts me to the quick. As Christians we like to think of “sacred things” as being those things and those people we associate with the “Church”. We see the work of Bishops, Priests and Deacons as sacred as we see icons, the consecrated host, and the work of the Saints as sacred. But, what we many times fail to see is the sacredness of our own lives in living out the life to which God has called us though his son Jesus.
We can re-unify the Christian Church and bind together it’s leaders, and its theology but does that really move us closer to our fulfilling our calling as Christian people? I think Frank has hit on something here. Whatever you may be Pope, Cardinal, Archbishop, Priest, Deacon, Lawyer, Doctor, Police Commissioner, Patrolman, Parent or Plumber you are called by God to fulfill his expectation for you. So be glad and be heartened that no matter what your occupation or station in life you are in the eyes of God a “sacred creature” performing a “sacred” calling which is as important as any other calling there is.
We thank you Frank (and those who created you) for reminding us that even the “least of us” are worthy of the kingdom of heaven because we are called to fulfill our respective callings in ways pleasing to God and that these acts are sacred however humble we may think they may be.