Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

“An old hermit once became gravely ill. He had no one to take care of him. With great difficulty, he would fix a little food for himself, thanking God for the trial which He had sent him. An entire month passed and no one knocked at his door or brought him relief. God, however, saw his patience and sent a divine angel to serve him. In the meantime, the brothers remembered the old hermit and went to his but to see how he was. As soon as they knocked on the door, the angel withdrew.

“From inside, the hermit shouted pleadingly: “For the love of God, go away from here, brothers.”

“They, however, hastily opened the door to see what had happened, and he shouted: “For thirty days I suffered completely alone and no one thought to come to see me. So, the Lord sent me an angel to keep me company. And now you come and chase the angel away.”

“And as soon as he said these things, the elder died in a sweet manner.”

Imagine being ministered to by an angel!  How blessed and cool that would be? And yet, how many of us could be as an angel to another person?

A few years ago, I had a heart attack on a Wednesday morning.  Various tests were done, stents inserted on Thursday and Friday morning I was sent home.  I felt quite seriously ill and like this monk, I could not care for myself.  Fortunately, on Tuesday, the day before the heart attack, I had gone to Costco and among my purchases were hard-cooked eggs and cans of tuna. For several days, that’s what I ate.

When the Tuesday after the heart attack, I called my priest, explained how ill I was and that I needed help.  He said that he would put me on the prayer list.  As sick as I was, I was unable to think clearly and did not at the time realize that was all he was going to do.

So I waited and waited and for days I expected phone calls from the people at my church I thought cared about me and no one called and no one came to see me.

My best friend was unable to do much as she was caring for her father who was quite ill with cancer.  But she did make me a pot of chili and another occasion and Italian pot roast.  Which made a welcome change from hard-cooked eggs and canned tuna.

Someone called Adult Protective Services and a social worker came, assessed, and returned the next day with three bags of frozen meals that all I had to do was microwave. I was so grateful.

My parish really hurt me and let me down, so I thought.  A few years after this, I ran into someone from that church who expressed concern that I no longer attended. This also happened to be one of the people I had thought would come to my aid.   I explained about the heart attack and this person said that the priest never said a word to anyone.

This long long story is told because I would hope the moral of the story for you would be to take a look around you.  Who is missing that usually see?  Call that person.  Visit that person. You might have the opportunity to serve that person as the angel ministered to the monk.

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