Today’s Catholic Mass Readings:
Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop
“The LORD secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who were bowed down;
the LORD loves the just.
The LORD protects strangers.
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts. (Psalm 146:7-9)
It was my first day working as a patient advocate at a cancer hospital and I felt uneasy entering the rooms of the sick and dying as a stranger. But as it turned out, the day was a success and I met wonderful, courageous people whose spirits were brightened just because I came to sit and listen and pray with them.
By the time I left the building, I was feeling pretty good about myself and was immersed in the joy I’d brought to the downhearted. Suddenly an old, homeless woman boldly approached me and asked for seventy five cents. “Don’t give it to her,” the young valet parking clerk interjected, “She’s a regular – a swindler.” The old woman laughed and jeered at him for his assessment of her. She wore layers of fetid clothing and rolled her possessions on a cart which was on its last legs.
“WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THIS PATIENT? WHAT WILL YOU DO WITHOUT YOUR CLIPBOARD, WITHOUT A BOX TO CHECK, WITHOUT A PRIVATE, SANITARY ROOM TO SAFEGUARD YOU, WITHOUT NURSES OR DOCTORS NEAR? WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THIS PATIENT, WHOSE HOSPITAL ROOM IS HERE ON THE STREET?”
I’d heard of the Holy Spirit speaking to the hearts of the faithful, but hadn’t yet distinguished His voice within me. At that moment, however, it was unmistakable and I responded without waver. I smiled back at her, gave her a bill and told her it was from Jesus, who loved her very much. The valet clerk looked dumbfounded while the woman was pleasantly surprised, snatching the bill from my hand.
I drove off and when I was some distance away looked back to spot her. She was hiding between two buildings, stretching her neck, waiting to catch a glimpse of me as I passed by and didn’t take her eyes off my car until it was out of sight.
I don’t know the extent to which God used me that day but I learned that love starts with the compassion of Jesus and flows through us to those He puts in front of us. He loves each of us, whether we dwell in a house, a hospital room or a simple shelter from the cold. All He needs is our little “yes” when He calls, which is far more often than we notice. He gives us thousands of opportunities to bring hope to others, whether rich or poor, but we must listen for His voice and accept His grace. He’ll do the rest. Love really is that simple. Elizabeth