There is general belief that the kind of people you hang around with you eventually become like them, and I suppose the opposite is true. I remember in the 70s after a night out I would have to hang my clothes in the garden because if the smell of cigarette smoke. I did not smoke but it seemed many others did. For years I was a diesel mechanic and for years I came home smelling like a diesel mechanic, we all did.
So the bridge.
The picture you have is of two buildings linked by a bridge. The building on the right is a ancient university the building on the left is a church equally ancient. Both built by St ignatius and his people. Ignatius after his conversion to Christ started a Christian social project with 6 people which grew into the order of the Jesuits. Committed to the poor, education and telling others of Jesus.
So the bridge.
Ignatius said you could not join his people unless you crossed the bridge. You could not serve the poor from an educational ivory tower. You had to cross the bridge and here is his saying "to a smell like the sheep". You cannot pastor from a distance. You cannot smell like an educationist ivory tower academic.
At his first Chrism Mass in Rome, Pope Francis called on the priests of the world to bring the healing power of God’s grace to everyone in need, to stay close to the marginalized and to be “shepherds living with the sheep".
Smell like the sheep. Be with your sheep.
In my brief but informative times in South Africa I have worked with wonderful people who smell like their sheep, in Mozambique too. Pastors who pastor close to the sheep they have been entrusted with. In Birmingham I have wonderful brothers and sisters who live close and smell like their sheep.
So two questions I will take home with me.
Who do I smell like?
How close am I to my sheep?
Ps when when Pope Francis was asked about the proposed wall to keep Mexicans out he said Christians are in the buisness of building bridges not walls.