22 December, Thursday — Me before You : Transformation

22 December

1 Sam 2:1-4,8
Lk 1:46-56

“The hungry he has filled with good things…”

Today’s Gospel leads us through the hymn of praise by Mary, the mother of Jesus.

From the age at which Jewish maidens became marriageable, it would have been possible that Mary gave birth to her son Jesus, when she was about thirteen or fourteen years of age. Perhaps maidens were more matured in Jesus’ time and a thirteen/fourteen-year-old would be expected to undertake the role of wife and mother.

We do know Mary did doubt the Archangel Gabriel who delivered the message that she was to be the mother of Jesus, yet we see her transformation in this hymn of praise Herself expecting a child, she travels to visit and assist her cousin Elizabeth, who is also expecting. Her hymn of praise glorifies God’s blessings on her and all future generations The thirteen/fourteen-year-old child is now ready to embrace her role as the Mother of the Son of God. Her transformation is only possible with her newfound knowledge of God’s love and graces for her and in her.

As a child, teenager and young adult, I’ve always loved children but never older folk very much.  I never really knew my grandparents, as the last grandparent passed on when I was 7. Somehow there was this discomfort that came over me when I was with other older folk. Maybe it was the scent they emitted, maybe the way they spoke.

Some years back, I had to take a few weeks off work to recalibrate and I found myself with time and no concrete plans. I had called the Assisi Hospice previously to volunteer, and when informed about a short training stint I had to attend, I had shelved the idea.

I tried again and as they were short of volunteers, they told me to come early the next morning to assist with the pickup of the day-care residents. When I was done at 10am and with nothing to do, someone mentioned a “grouchy French resident” on the 2nd floor.  Out of curiosity, I went up and it was Fr Louis Loiseau, who was spending his last days frustrated that he was confined to a bed and not able to perform his priestly duties.

Over the next few days, we became ‘strange’ companions. Me, in my pain and in need of an outlet, and him with his desire to minister to someone. We shared a common love for cheese and food and that encounter changed me. Even after returning to work, I would either spend early mornings or late evenings chatting with him as we chatted, laughed and cried together.

It didn’t seem so difficult to connect with someone so much older and I learnt many things about myself during that 1 year before Fr Loiseau passed on. Brothers and sisters, I can’t help but realise how God placed two different, mismatched companions together so that we lean on each other.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Gerard Francis)

Prayer: We pray for the grace to be open to God’s gentle prompting in our lives to change and transform us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the various events and situations that God places us in to mould us.


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