By Deacon John De Gano
In response to Pope Francis’ now famous ‘smell of the sheep’ comment, I went up a mountain in the wee hours of Easter morning hoping for a spiritual encounter with the Living God through those participating in the annual Easter Sunrise Service on Mt. Rubidoux.
I had come for ‘the lost sheep,’ to encourage and possibly reconcile them back to the church of their youth. To pray and to rejoice in Jesus’ message of salvation – symbolized by the first rays of dawn illuminating the empty tomb.
And with me I brought the tears and fears of three whose stories had been placed on my heart over the past few weeks.
Nadine, who with her husband, are up in years and despite a life dedicated to their church now, because of failing health, have to consider giving up their home and faith community in order that their relatives can look after them. Nadine is learning to die to herself in order to let others minister to her needs.
Janet, a woman of great heart who suffers depression because the person she cares for has just lost her eyesight and now needs 24/7 attention that her elderly parents are unable to provide themselves, and so Janet suffers in silence and is in desperate need of “downtime” for herself.
Tony, who was admitted to the hospital with terminal cancer, had signed a DNR and so the hospital workers would not attach a monitor to him. If his family members had not insisted on taking the day off and staying with him until he passed, he could have died alone. And no one would have known.
These stories are not unique events. They are real and the people living them are in great need of our prayers and pastoral care.
What are some of the stories God has placed on your heart this Lent?
Maybe God is inviting you to change; to be the difference in the life of someone who has need of TLC.
Perhaps it’s to be a listening ear, like that provided by Bereavement or Stephens’ Ministry?
To pray for our sick and homebound? Or to visit them and/or offer to grocery shop for them?
To give the gift of time to another, sitting for them while they “take a breather” or a walk, or just have someone (a grownup) to talk to?
Each of us can bring new life to those who are in darkness. We just need to reach out and offer them a hand.
If there’s a need in your community that isn’t being met, then do something about it. Live your resurrection (with Christ) now! So that people’s lives are filled with hope.
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Riverside.