“We are made to be a community, to love and support each other”
One of the most extraordinary birthday parties that ever occurred did not take place at a palace or a fancy hotel. It occurred at a small rundown diner in Honolulu at 3a.m.. The birthday girl was a 39 year old prostitute, all the guests were prostitutes, and it was organized by a Christian minister.
The minister was at the diner one morning having coffee at the counter when a group of prostitutes came in and took up the stools around him. He heard one of the girls, Agnes, lamenting that tomorrow was her birthday and she had never had a birthday party.
Perhaps it was a nudge from the Holy Spirit but after the girls left, the minister approached the owner of the diner. He learned that the girls came in every morning at around 3:30am and together the owner and the minister agreed to hold a birthday party for Agnes. Somehow word got out onto the street and by 3:15 the next morning the small diner was packed with prostitutes, the owner and his wife, and the minister.
When Agnes walked in she was met with streamers, balloons, cheering friends, and the owner of the diner holding a birthday cake. Everyone screamed “Happy Birthday!” and Agnes was overwhelmed. The crowd sang happy birthday and the diner owner called for Agnes to cut the cake. Agnes looked at the cake and paused. She had never had a birthday cake and wanted to take it home to show her mother.
Agnes left and a stunned silence fell over the diner. That was the minister’s cue. He stood up and led a roomful of prostitutes, the diner owner, and the owner’s wife, in a prayer for Agnes.
For Agnes, this was the first time anyone had gone out of their way to do something for her, without expecting anything in return. The actions of friends and strangers had a tremendous impact on her.
Our Lord teaches us by His actions as well as by His words. In healing the leper He teaches us a great lesson. Not in the healing, we have come to expect that of Him, but in this; “He stretched out His hand, touched him…” Jesus could have healed the man without touching him at all, why was that detail so important this time?
Lepers in the time of Jesus were the walking dead. No one would come near them let alone touch them. Can you imagine going years without even the touch of a handshake, or a comforting hand on your shoulder? And worse, no one coming near enough to even talk to you, unless it is to tell you to go away.
This past year (2020) was a very strange one to say the least. And while the contagiousness and lethality of the pandemic may be disputed, its effect on society is very clear.
We are made to be a community, to love and support each other. When we cannot or will not, then our society begins to break down and we have seen that play out as well. Protests, riots, and on-going lawlessness have continued in some of our nation’s largest cities.
The pandemic may have given us the smallest taste of what it means to be isolated from society at large.
6th Subday in Ordinary Time
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© Lawrence Klimecki
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Deacon Lawrence draws on ancient Christian tradition to create new contemporary art that seeks to connect the physical and the spiritual.. For more information on original art, prints and commissions, Please visit www.DeaconLawrence.org
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith