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Monday, May 29, 2017

Recognizing God's Strength in Others

"Gorify me, Father." Jn 17:5

Early in my ministry as a priest, I met an older man who was helping his wife die.  It was not an easy task. His wife had a form of cancer with external sores that had a terrible odor.  Nevertheless, everyday he visited her in the hospital, gave her a big kiss and asked how her night was.  Though his wife could not answer easily, she always smiled softly and thanked him for coming.  After watching this simple but profound drama, I asked the man to step into the hallway with me. I wanted to ask him how he was doing and tell him how much I admired his sacrifice.  Looking at me a little strangely, he said, “It’s no sacrifice, Father. We have been married for 47 years, and although I was not always the best husband, my wife always supported me, always encouraged me. Coming here each day is a privilege I would not want to miss.”

My older friend was suffering and rejoicing, just like Jesu.s  He would have done anything to help his wife and ease her suffering, but he knew there was little he could do.  Staying with her, helping bathe and feed her each day, though difficult, was something he properly called a privilege.  This is the kind of suffering most of us can never avoid.  It comes to us as an ordinary part of life, and faith tells us to respond in love.

Jesus, ready to return to his Father, asks God to recognize his work of suffering on earth and that is exactly what I do in prayer when I ask God to remember people like my older friend who lived the Gospel in such a basic and vital way.

Today, ask God to glorfy your work for others.

Who do you admire for their willingness to suffer for others without complaint?

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