M*A*S*H was one of my favorite shows during the early 70’s when I was in college and trying to find myself. The 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital found life in the Korean war unbearable at times. Whether by the weather, or circumstances of war, they were forced to make their own fun. The whole show is at times poignant, at times brutally sad, but most episodes are filled with the shenanigans and exploits of doctors and nurses who become a witty, if not hilarious close-knit family just managing to get through the pain. Perhaps my favorite character of the cast was Lt. Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy.
One of the great episodes of M*A*S*H was an episode titled “Movie Night.” The whole gang has been fussin’ and bickering, so Father Mulcahy procures Colonel Potter’s favorite John Ford western classic, My Darling Clemetine, to be shown in the mess hall that night. The film is full of cuts and splices causing it to break and Klinger having to turn on the lights to fix the thing. When the film breaks the second time, Father Mulcahy plays the piano and leads the raucous crowd in “Gee, Ma, I Wanna Go Home.” The film keeps breaking periodically and the next breaks become a Father Mulcahy impersonation time. Hawkeye, Klinger, Frank Burns, Margaret, Radar, all take their turn at the witty quotes, with the closing statement made by Colonel Potter in a fit of chuckles, “Jocularity! Jocularity!”
Father Francis was my favorite character because I identified with him on so many levels. No I’m not a catholic priest, and no, I’ve not been to war. What I found most in common with the good Father was his earnest desire to make a difference. In fact, Father Mulcahy was earnest about everything. So earnest to do a good job when his supervisor came to camp, that he got a little tipsy dipping into the sacramental wine. Most of the time he went about his business of trying to offer counsel to young soldiers, or giving last rites to those young brave men who wouldn’t make it through surgery. He was witty and funny and always willing, over-zealously willing, to jump in and offer a hand with just about any task… just to make a difference.
Perhaps if you’ve been reading my blog this year, and follow it regularly, you’ve noticed my propensity for taking on a serious tone, applying Scripture and God’s truth to the topics each day. I guess that’s because most days I see the world around us and it seems like a spiritual nuclear war zone to me. The stakes are too high to try to force myself to be witty or clever when eternity is at stake. When the funny times do come, when the diatribe goes slack and the smiles come out, I count my blessings and laugh along with everyone else. Just like the good Father Mulcahy.
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
Take the time today to experience the witty, clever, funny side of life. God designed these parts too, just for you.
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