Friday, October 3, 2014

A Nursing Home Nativity

"Can I help you find someone?" asked the kindly nursing home staffer.

"I'm trying to find Beth"

"I think she's still in the dining room waiting for her aid to take her back to her room.  Let's go see."

I followed her down a hall and into the dining room.  "There she is, over in the yellow sweater."

"Thank you for your help ma'am.  Have a wonderful day."  She smiled and got back to whatever task she had taken time out from to help me.

The woman in the yellow sweater sat in a wheel chair at a table that looked to have had other occupants not too long ago, but now it was just her.  A few other elderly folks remained in the now mostly empty dining hall.  Most of those who were still at their tables had some family members sitting with them and making conversation.  A warm light shone in through the windows on this fall Sunday afternoon.

I introduced myself and got down on one knee so I could speak more easily with her.  I told her I was the new pastor and was out visiting the folks who couldn't come to Mass.  She thanked me for coming, and told me a little bit about her self and her past.  She told stories about being baptized by this priest, confirmed by that monsignor, and some stories about her family and her Faith.  Most of the time she didn't look at me, but instead stared off over my shoulder, as if her past was a film playing behind me and she was describing to me what she was seeing as it played.

After maybe ten minutes of conversation, I asked her "would you like to receive Communion?"

She responded "Oh yes, very much, thank you."

I took out the pyx of Hosts from my pocket and sat it on the table.  There on the table, amidst spilled granules of a half-used equal packet, sitting next to a partially-consumed piece of bread pudding and a cooling cup of coffee sat the King of Kings.  A few employees were busy in the background as they were picking up trays from other tables and trying to clean up the day's lunch.  Some family members moved about as well, but no one even glanced in our direction as we prayed an Our Father and then I offered her Communion.

I was struck, in the moment, by how similar this must have been to the first appearance of our Lord on Earth in a little town of Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.  Hardly anyone noticed.

And why should they have?  I didn't fault the people in the dining room because why would they know better?

It was, though, a reminder to me that I have been anointed (and so have you if you've been baptized Catholic) to help all of these people to get to the point where they DO recognize Him in the Host.

We have the job of proclaiming what the Angels sang about at the first Nativity, we have the job of going to the rich and the poor alike, to the kings of this world and to the shepherds, and telling them "unto you this day a Savior has been born, and He is Christ the Lord."

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