The Gift of Personal Presence
One of the most effective and colorful congressmen to ever go to Washington was an old gentleman from Texas named Sam Rayburn. He served Congress for over fifty years. He was the Speaker of the house during the last ten years. But the real greatness of Sam Rayburn was not in the public positions he held. It was in his common touch.
One day he heard that the teenage daughter of a Washington reporter had died. Early the next morning he went over to the reporter’s house and knocked on the door. “I just came by to see what I could do to help” he said. The reporter was obviously touched. “Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker, but I don’t think there’s anything you can do. We are handling the arrangements.”
Sam Rayburn said to him, “Let me ask you, have you had your coffee yet this morning?” When the reporter said that he had not, Mr. Sam said, “Well, I’ll make it for you.” Without the reporter objecting, he went into the house and began to fix the coffee in the kitchen for the reporter. The reporter was taken aback by all this because he knew the involvements of Sam Rayburn. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “I thought you were having breakfast this morning at the White House with the President.”
Mr. Rayburn responded, “Well, I was but I called the President and told him that I had a friend who was having some trouble and that I would not be in today.”
The above story highlights the gift of personal presence. In the Gospel story the canyon or chasm between Lazarus and the rich man is forged in life and then it is there in the afterlife. In the earthly life, the rich man is not personally present to the poor man, Lazarus, who is begging at his gate. The rich man is dining daily on expensive food. Lazarus is hoping to eat a scrap of food with the dogs that are near the rich man’s table. But the rich man does not even take notice of Lazarus.
Certainly there is a variety of ways to become personally present to others. Who is at your gate today? Who is it that you fail to take notice of? Every day you meet people. Can you become more fully present to them with a kind word, a kind gesture, a helping hand? Where is the chasm or the canyon in your life today? Can you cross that canyon in your earthly life by being personally present to someone else?
We are called to minister to the poor in our midst. We are grateful to have a parish St. Vincent de Paul Society. We thank you for your donations of non-perishable food items and paper products which you can always leave at the entrances of our church, in the plastic bins. Sometimes, people come to the rectory asking for food. Your generosity helps us to feed them. Also, our parish St. Vincent de Paul Society takes its turn at the Ozanam Center at Holy Name Parish in distributing food and clothing to the people of our neighborhood. If you are interested in helping in this endeavor, you can call the rectory.
If our registered parishioners are in need of emergency assistance for the payment of medication, utilities or rent, your financial donations to St. Vincent de Paul enable us to assist them. Since we have limited funds, we can only help our registered parishioners with financial assistance. Charitable donations enable us to become personally present to others.
Many years ago, a friend of mine went to hear Mother Teresa of Calcutta speak at John Carroll University. Afterwards he visited his brother who was a student there. He then walked back to the auditorium. Everyone had left except for Mother Teresa, who was standing at the entrance waiting for her car to arrive. He walked up to her and she took his hand. He stated, “As our eyes met I felt as if I was the only person in the world to her at that moment.”
Mother Teresa had the gift of being personally present. I met her twice in my life. I worked with the Missionaries of Charity in Rome taking care of homeless men. When it came to people dying on the streets of Calcutta, Mother Teresa noticed them. She would pick them up and take them to a place where they could die with dignity.
Today let us recognize our chasms and canyons. Like Mother Teresa can we cross over to assist the poor person in need?
A lot can be said about the Gift of Personal Presence. Christ is personally present to us in the Eucharist. We are called to be personally present to Christ. After this interaction, after this prayer, we are called to be personally present to others. Ask the Holy Spirit, after you receive communion, “Who am I called to be personally present to?” Like Sam Rayburn, Like Mother Teresa, you too are being called to give the gift of your personal presence.
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|Sunday, September 25th||2614.50|
|St. Vincent de Paul Society||10.00|