The first reading today puts me in mind of a pair of Irish priests who passed away twenty-five years ago. Father Jim Doyle and Father Joe O’Brien were ordained together back in 1934, and in 1935 both were sent to work in Korea.
You might remember that Korea belonged to Japan back then, and the Japanese police in every town wouldn’t let our priests travel from one parish to another, without their getting travel permits.
In 1937, after Father Joe and Father Jim had been in Korea for two years, their superiors back in Ireland ordered them to leave Korea and for a while to settle in Japan to learn the Japanese language and customs. They were caught over there after Pearl Harbor, and four years they were locked away in a dirt floored Japanese jail.
In 1945, at the end of the war, the priest superiors of Father Joe’s and Jim back Ireland received a request from Japan's bishops for priests to serve in several prefectures that had no priests. That had them sending for Father Joe and Father Jim to hear their views on supplying priests for those places.
Father Joe and Father Jim arrived at headquarters together, but the Superior General’s council asked to see them separately. So, Father Joe went in first, and after he was quizzed, he was asked to send in Father Jim. They met outside the conference room, and in passing him Father Joe said, “It was under the cherry tree.”