"Greet Prisca and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life." Rom 16:3-4
Today I am thinking about and praying in gratitude for all the people who "risked their necks for me." They are too numerous to mention, thank God, but I cannot even begin to write without pausing in thanksgiving for everything my parents gave me, and I want to pause today especially because, if they had lived, it would have been their 75th wedding anniversary.
My parents were givers. Though we had little as children, we were never hungry, always clean and nicely dressed and were raised with a sense of our own dignity. Every Sunday afternoon when we were not visiting an aunt or an uncle, we sat together for a family meal and though the napkin rings, the china and glassware were chipped and never matched, the table was set perfectly. We were a family, my mother insisted ritually, and would eat like one. It was not the things around us that mattered, but how we treated one another as sisters and brothers.
My parents also risked their necks for their siblings. My Aunt Katy, a spinster, visited once a week and brought our family little treats. I especially remember the lemon drops, and Aunt Katy would also give each of us children a dime. Once, when I wanted to go out with my friends, I asked my mother to borrow a dime. How will you repay me, she asked? Aunt Katy is coming tomorrow, I said, but before the words were out of my mouth my mother slapped me across the mouth. Presumption was a sin and taking for granted anothers generosity was unacceptable behavior for a Catholic boy.
Uncle Joe also came every week and would fall asleep on the couch with the radio on. I had only to turn the radio off to wake him up and he would invariably ask what I wanted to do. Because my dad traveled by public transportation into New York City every day, a two hour trip each way, he was rarely home before 7 or 7:30 pm, and could not spend much time with us, but Uncle Joe could. He also would buy his nieces and nephews sneakers and other sports equipment that our parents could not afford.
My parents also risked their necks for my sisters and brother more times than any of us can count. Today I feel like St. Paul taking time to thank all those who helped him in his missionary effots. I have had a wonderful life because of all those people who risked their lives for me. My siblings have loving children and deep faith. They have these gifts primarily because our parents and their generation risked their necks for all of us.
If you have a moment today read the 16th chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Romans, especially the first 16 verses, and as you read replace the names of the people Paul is thanking with all the people who have helped you in life and faith.
Today pause to remember all those who have "risked their necks for you."