Recently, my wife and I have been hooked on a BBC drama called Father Brown which ran for several years, and is now on Netflix. The series is based off of short stories of the same name by GK Chesterton. Father Brown is a Roman Catholic priest, who is adept at solving mysteries. In each episode, there is a crime, often murder, and while the police conduct their investigation and interrogate suspects, Father Brown runs his own investigation on the side, and finds the real guilty person.
To be honest, part of me sides with Inspector Valentine, who wishes Father Brown would stop meddling in the investigation. After all, Father Brown is a priest, not a detective, and while the actual trials are never shown, one cannot help but think the typical defense attorney on Law & Order would accuse Father Brown of tampering with evidence, and manipulating things to his own advantage. It should be noted that while Inspector Valentine is bound by the law, and presumably search warrants; Father Brown has no such hindrances.
But that line of thinking exposes my own mindset, as well as the mindset of most people today: the priest should tend to his church duties, and let the police handle investigating the crimes. In fact, while it would indeed take him longer, there is no evidence that Inspector Valentine would not eventually find the true guilty party of each crime.
But therein lies the faulty thinking that we are so accustomed too. Father Brown does not go down to the police station and pick up the latest unsolved mystery off the Inspector’s desk. The people who are murdered, and the accused, and even those eventually found guilty are all members of his parish.
A congregation cursed by God to have some many victims and people capable of murder sitting side by side? Well, it should be noted that this is fictitious writing.
But what is not pretend, is that Father Brown is involved in the lives of his parishioners, as any good pastor or priest should be. He is frequently seen attending local events, walking through the town markets and visiting with the locals. He is not, as many are prone to do today, confined to the Sunday morning activities of his people; rather he is there in the midst of their daily lives, engaging them on all levels, even if that means showing up and discovering dead bodies and then searching for the murderers. Father Brown knows his people need him in their lives, and he is more than willing to oblige, not for the sake of the story, but for the sake of the Gospel.
That’s the kind of pastor I want; not because I might find myself falsely accused of some crime one day and I will need him to prove my innocence, but because I want a pastor who is not just there on Sunday morning, but a pastor who is there every day of the week, involved in the lives of his people.