I have been thinking about mangoes lately.
It started when our daughter, who spent the spring semester in El Salvador, shared a new term she learned on retreat: mango friends. She told us that mangoes are the most abundant fruit in the world, with about nine Salvadoran varieties and more than 50 varieties in Hawaii. Spring is mango season in El Salvador, and there were mangoes everywhere: in the grocery, on the table, falling from trees into the street, accumulating on the patio at Casa Romero where she lived. Sarah explained, “Mango friends are your close friends, those friends that show up everywhere, the friends that you can’t escape and wouldn’t want to if you could because they are so darn delicious.”
Then I read a Catholic News Service blog post about Blessed John Paul II which referred to him as “The Mango Pope.” It seems that when the pope visited Mexico for the first time in 1979, he was so taken with this Latin American fruit, his hosts prepared them for him in every imaginable way. Until he died, the Mexican people made sure that there were regular mango deliveries to the Vatican. This was just one example of how John Paul II connected with the people he visited. “Throughout his 26-year pontificate,” John Thavis wrote, “Pope John Paul paid attention not only to world leaders but also to the ‘little people’ and what was on their minds. On his journeys outside the Vatican, he would chat with workers, visit the sick and make pilgrimage to even the most humble of local shrines.” Thavis also shared the story of a visit to a shanty town in Brazil,where JPII took off his papal ring and donated it to be sold for the benefit of the local residents!
It made me think: our God is The Mango God. He shows up everywhere: in the Upper Room, on the road to Emmaus, and at Zacchaus’ house in Jericho, the well in Samaria and the wedding feast at Cana. He knows us by name. He is concerned about what we are concerned about. He meets us wherever we are. And He makes our lives so darn delicious!