By Richard Watkins
Wednesday, August 3, 2022. God just spoke to me.
I was pouring myself a hefty mix of Cheerios and Cap’n Crunch when I hear this hard, loud, belabored combination of moaning/grunting/panting coming from outside by the driveway. It obviously sounded like someone was in distress so I did what every red-blooded self-proclaimed Christian would do in such a situation. I said to myself: “Great. Now what!?”
I looked out see a man in a wheelchair and hunched over. Every second came another painful sounding exhalation of breath. I looked at him, and then back to my cereal. Him. Cereal. Cereal. Cereal. Him. Cereal. I took a bite. A couple of crunch berries fell off the spoon and onto the floor. I picked them up and tossed them into our compost pail.
I opened the garage door and made a slow, annoyed walk down the driveway toward the man. His face was weather beaten. Dark and leathery as though he spent most of his time in the sun. Several teeth were missing.
Me: “Sir, are you okay? Do you need some help?
He responded in a fast, rushed, mumbling manner. Stammering at times. Repeating himself often.
Man: “Oh no. Sorry, Sir. I just need to rest. I was just released from the hospital. I won’t be long.” Me: “Can I get you something? Something to eat?” Man: “No, no. I’m fine thank you.” Me: “Some water?”
He pointed to the Diet Dr. Pepper sitting on the ground next him.
Man: “No. I have that. I’m okay”. Me: “Are you sure? It’s no trouble.” Man: “I’m okay. I won’t be long, I’m sorry to bother you.” Me: “Take all the time you need. Good luck and God bless.” Man: “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”
I returned to the house. My oldest son asked what I was doing. I told him. He looked out the window and asked, “What man?”
I looked out the window and he was gone.
“Well, there was a guy there,” I said. “I don’t know where he went.”
I returned to my Cheerios and Cap’n Crunch (full disclosure: there was more Crunch than Cheer). I began checking my email. The first one up was Bishop Robert Barron’s Daily Gospel Reflection. I read the Gospel; Matthew 15:21–28: The Canaanite Woman’s Faith.
“At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But he did not say a word in answer to her.
His disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And her daughter was healed from that hour.”
Then I read Bishop Barron’s reflection:
“The Old Testament speaks insistently of the “stranger, the widow, and the orphan.” The ethical life, in a biblical framework, is about the press of these people upon us. They press upon us even when we would greatly prefer them just to go away.
We the Church are the Body of Christ. And so, people come to us demanding food, sustenance, friendship, love, shelter, or liberation. Often, we are tempted to do what Jesus does initially and what the disciples do: tell them to back off. We are overloaded, busy, and preoccupied. We can’t be bothered.
But the whole of the Christian life consists in remembering the suffering and need of the annoying other.”
My eyes widened and my mouth dropped. I looked up and said in the most humble and reverent of tones: “Yes, Lord. I hear you.”