Once again, daily Mass has provided fodder for this blog. (Thank you, Jesus!)
It’s always in those 30 to 40 minutes prior to Mass that inspiration (Holy Spirit) strikes; and, this time He was in the form of a fellow pew member.
There’s this guy, I’ll call him Joe (he may be homeless, I’m not sure and won’t make that full assumption). Joe often visits the Cathedral during the 12:10 Mass. His coming and going is sporadic – as in, sometimes he makes his appearance halfway into the celebration and other times he leaves early. You just never know.
Joe typically has something unusual with him. One day he came in with a 5 foot wooden cross tied to his back. Another time he walked in with an old American flag. Many days he has his guitar with him; sometimes in the case, other times, not).
Last week, Joe was carrying something very different.
As I was pulling into the parking lot, Joe was walking up the street, his guitar hanging from his back and he was pushing a child’s toy stroller. Not at all an odd thing for Joe. At the pace we were both walking, our paths would have softly collided if it hadn’t been for the vehicle driving up the main street with an American flag attached to the antenna. While Joe stopped to salute the flag, I walked passed him and into the Cathedral, found ‘my pew’ and settled in. About 10 minutes later I could hear someone coming up the main aisle.
Now, I’ve gotten really good at telling which fellow regular Mass attendee is coming into the church by their footsteps.
…Shuffling of feet and mumbling…
Here comes Joe.
Currently, we are in the season of Advent and the wreath is setup toward the front of the church in the main aisle. (an Advent Wreath lays flat with 4 candles standing… actually, check out the picture below). I sit about a pew away.
Joe walks up to the wreath and places something in the center. As he does this he says, “My Christmas gift to everyone”. As he walked away he caught my eye and we gave each other a nod and I smiled. Joe headed to the front pew but immediately returned to the wreath and picked up his “gift”. At first I thought he was taking it back – you just never know with Joe.
And then he did something unexpected.
The “gift” was the baby doll that had been in the stroller he was pushing when I saw him outside. Joe picked up the baby. He hugged it, kissed it on the forehead and said, “I love you”, then returned the gift back to the wreath.
To say that I was moved to tears would be an understatement. Not only did Joe give the only thing he had, an item probably tossed away by someone else, but he gave it to his church family. Something discarded by another, Joe saw as valuable. He was not only generous enough to present his gift to the parish family of the Bishop’s church – the Cathedral – but he did so with childlike love and innocent boldness.
So, now I’m left wondering. Can I do the same?
- Can I give of myself in a way that is unburdened by what others think?
- Can I love without considering the cost, giving all I have?
- Can I move bravely to set an example of Christ for others?
Joe has set the bar high for me and I pray that one day I can love as purely as he.
Happy Advent Joe; please pray for me.