Last Things

A pastor was having problems with the deacon in his parish. The deacon was not doing what he was supposed to do. So, one day the pastor says to this deacon “I have a group of young people who go to a Nursing Home and they put on a prayer service for them once a month. Would you drive them there? Would you at least do that?” The deacon agreed.

He was sitting at the back of the chapel on the first Sunday. His arms were folded as he was taking in the service. The young people were leading the prayer service. Suddenly he felt someone tugging on his arm. He looked down to see an old man in a wheelchair. The deacon took hold of the old man’s hand and the old man took hold of his hand. They remained holding hands all during the service which went for an hour.

The same thing happened the following month. This was repeated for the next six months after that. Then one day the deacon went to the Nursing Home for the prayer service as usual, but the old man was not there. When the deacon enquired as to his whereabouts, he was told that he was in his room. He was unconscious and he was dying and that he would be welcome to go in and pray over him if he wanted to.

The deacon went in, took the old man’s hand and prayed to God that he would receive this man into his heavenly kingdom. At that moment the old man squeezed the deacon’s hand. The deacon was deeply touched by this. Overcome with emotion he stumbled out of the room and as he did so, he encountered one of the other residents. This other resident told him “he has been waiting for you. He said he did not want to die before he held hand of Jesus one more time.” The deacon was amazed and asked, “what do you mean?” The resident replied “he always said Jesus came to this place once a month and he took my hand and would hold it for the whole hour of the service and I don’t want to die before I hold the hand of Jesus one more time.”

This Sunday concludes National Vocations Awareness Week in our Church. I believe that the primary call of God in our lives is to do what Jesus would do if he were in our place. It is to be Jesus to those who are in need. It is to be Jesus to those who are hurting. It is to be Jesus to those who are lonely.

In the Gospel when Jesus talked about the last judgement, he made it clear that our preparedness would be measured by our readiness to serve those we meet. Death ultimately comes to all of us as the great intruder on our lives and plans. Most often it happens when it is least expected. It does not matter whether we got to do all the things we would have liked to have done. All that really matters is whether we have tried to live our lives seeking to show the face of Christ to all whom we encounter. ‘Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.’ (Luke 12:37).