A special story for me in the Gospels has to do with the miracle Jesus worked on the man with the withered arm in the synagogue of Nazareth on the Sabbath. According to the story, the young man, a bricklayer by trade, discovered his arm drying up. What can a bricklayer do with one useless arm and hand? In time, his wife and children found themselves destitute, with the breadwinner of the family becoming a cripple.
The beauty of the story lies in the fact that the unfortunate man continued going to the synagogue on the Sabbath to give worship to God. Instead of rejecting God in bitterness and despair, the crippled bricklayer reached out for the Almighty in prayer and hope.
One Sabbath day, Jesus came into the synagogue to preach. On seeing the state of the young worker, standing devoutly in prayer and song, the Lord brought new wholeness to the arm and hand. Because of the man’s presence in the House of Prayer, Jesus was able to meet him and give him complete health. The miracle happened because the man never stopped going to the synagogue to sing God’s praises.
An incredible number of hardships can come into the lives of the people of God, a litany of sufferings too long to mention. In these dark days, many drop their friendship with God, whom they once loved. Some give up all interest in life. Others, like the man in the Gospel story above, keep going to the House of Worship, their Church, to offer prayer and sacrifice to the Creator.
On weekends, suffering men, women and children make their way into our neighborhood churches with hearts filled with love for the Lord. The Jesus of the Gospel story recounted above will meet them in the Place of Prayer and use their sicknesses to work mighty miracles for His Honor and Glory. To the sick He will give wholeness of mind and spirit, enabling them to use this visitation of suffering to fall deeper in love with God.
On some occasions, the Loving Christ offers complete physical health to the ailing bodies and minds of His faithful people. All of us should read of this bricklayer of long ago, because he kept going to the synagogue after adversity struck.
Fr. George Mc Kenna
Before the days of my entry into the technical world of publishing, and establishing my Blog, my message was type written as a Bulletin for the Midway Airport Chapel, which I founded. I would create the Bulletins on my computer, and then bring my masters to the local Office Depot for printing. On one such day, the usually cheerful clerk took them with a troubled, sad face. Suddenly, tears started running down her cheeks. “People are so rude”, she exclaimed. Evidently, that morning a person or two had hurt her feelings with ill-chosen words or actions.
Unfortunately, as an employee of the store, the young clerk could not retaliate with her true feelings. Swallow the rudeness or lose one’s much needed job. A single mother, raising two adolescent children, she had allowed herself to be the target of unloving people.
Rude people lack self-esteem with an attitude of anger and frustration towards life. Maybe, a childhood, empty of much true family love, had crippled their minds and hearts from offering respect to others. They are crying out in their hearts for love while oftentimes trying to destroy the spirit of love in others. Something cowardly in all this!
These troubled souls resent people with serene and cheerful ways. Sometimes, out of control, rude people will lash out with cutting words and angry looks to rob others of their happy appearances. Service people are helpless to answer back and become prime targets for these predators of the heart.
The women traffic guards at Midway Airport would frequently tell me of the poor treatment they received from the public. It is not much different for others in the service industry – wait staff at restaurants, store clerks, order takers behind the counter at your favorite fast food place, nurses, aides, and receptionists – all seem to face the brunt of these rude people. Courtesy, good manners and mutual respect should mark our present generation different from the Stone Age where brute force ruled. Consider the words, “thanks”, and “please” as keys to another’s heart.
Start off the day with the thought, “I will do my best to help the people I meet today with a kind word, a compliment, a smile. Everyone crossing my path has a cross to bear, mostly hidden ones. My kindness in word, deed or look may be a vital support to that person in carrying his cross for today.”
Be in love with ourselves so much that we want to share that love with others. Personally, at nightfall, the graciousness of others to me that day gives me hope to on living.
Fr. George Mc Kenna