Raising His eyes toward his disciples Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.”
After the storms comes the calm. After the hurricanes comes recovery. After the loss of a loved one come commitment, renewal and devotion. After an illness comes grace! We appreciate what we have only when it is gone. This is not a sentiment of faith. This is the brutal truth. We do not appreciate our eyes or ears or nose our hands unless we lose them.
Blessed are you who are poor; you keep the Lord of life in your life. Blessed are you who are hungry; you depend on prayer for your daily bread. Blessed are you who are single; you understand marriage better than the married! Blessed are you are alone; you appreciate God’s little souls more than those with little feet.
Yesterday, a good and simple man waited for me outside the parish office. He had been waiting to tell me his story of faith for weeks! He was very excited (and nervous) to tell me how he had experienced God’s amazing grace in his life through a beloved pet.
I did not grow up with pets. Never had one except for a turtle that escaped! So it’s not easy for me to appreciate let alone comprehend the impact that a pet can have on a man and on a family. It is obvious from so many pet lovers that pets do show unconditional loyalty and steadfastness towards their master. I’m not sure if it is unconditional love, but it is definitely unconditional affection and coziness!
Needless to say, this man had been through very difficult times in his life. He said he left the Church but not God when he was a teenager. Shortly afterwards, he got himself involved in substance and alcohol abuse. While he was in the loneliest moment of his life, his long time companion, his cat, began to get sick. This man told me, “Father, my cat let me know that he was ill.” I asked him directly, “How did your cat let you know?” I was thinking to myself, “This will be difficult to explain.” What he told me surprised me. It turned out that the cat was not relieving himself at all. So one day, “my cat stood right in front of me, looked me in the eyes, squatted and shrieked in pain! That’s how my cat let me know it was in trouble.” I have to admit, I was very moved by that.
He immediately took his pet to the vet. The vet diagnosed the problem and after spending over two hundred dollars for the visit, the medication and a new diet plan, the cat was sent home. However, at Christmas time, the cat began to grow ill again. This man told me that with Christmas right around the corner, he could not afford another two hundred dollar expense. Money was tight. He waited, and because he waited, the cat became septic. By the time he took him to the vet again, his body was shutting down. The doctor made it clear to me, there were only two options: either put him down or let him die a slow and painful death. This kind hearted man admitted to me, “Father, if I had not waited…if I had not put money before my cat…this would not have happened. I felt so bad that I got down on my knees and made my confession to God. I asked God to forgive me.”
On the day of the procedure, the cat was a bit livelier than normal (It had been lethargic for days - not eating or drinking anything; just lying down on cat litter). He thought it was unusual. He thought to himself, “Maybe…just maybe my cat will be ok.” But the vet wiped away any type of hope, telling him that this type of excitement was typical. He was right. But the owner of his beloved cat asked the doctor if he could spend a few moments alone with his cat. The doctor understood. While alone, he took the cat in his arms, looked him in the eyes and told him, “If you are feeling better then you have to let me know now!” Immediately, the cat let out a huge meow! It was the first time in days that the cat had made any sound at all.
After ten months, the cat is still a part of his family. Doing what cats do best.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, the humble, the simple and the lonely. We need them for they remind us of how we are in charge of God’s creation; how we are to love God’s creatures; and how we are to teach others how to love one another. The Beatitudes are a sort of personal compass that helps us to know if we are doing ok as we head towards heaven! Difficult times are God's way to get us moving; heading towards something great!