(90 year old grandma tap dancing)
At a funeral this week I met one of the most interesting people that I have met in my life, a 94-year old young woman who was a younger sister to the 95-year old parishioner who died this week. At a glance, she looked far younger than 94, so I was surprised when told her age. After the funeral, I sat beside her at the reception and chatted over fried drumsticks and brownies. She told me that she lives in a nursing home, and that her hobbies of reading books and dancing keep her busy. Recently, a man in his seventies moved into the nursing home, and her friends warned her about him. He kept asking her for a dance until she told him, "I'm old enough to be your mother!" and then he no longer bothered her. She told me that she has a soft spot for guys who are lonely, so when they ask, she dances with them. She said that many of her friends talk about their aches and pains, but she prefers to talk about what's positive in her life; certainly she has her share of aches and pains, but she's not going to let that stop her from enjoying being with her friends and from dancing. She has quite a refreshing attitude in life.
People who go beyond themselves and give generously of their time and energy for others always impress me. The 94-year old lady is no exception because she reminds me that we can be self-giving no matter our age or circumstances. If we look around, people hungering for love and companionship surround us. On Friday at the sign of the peace during mass at a nursing home, many of the residents who are in wheel chairs were unable to greet each other because they are frail and are not able to turn to each other to exchange a greeting. How heart warming it was to see the helpers go to the residents to greet them; their loneliness was broken by kindness.
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord does something miraculous, something that only God can do. However, in order for this miracle to be fruitful, it requires the ordinary. Jesus saw the vast crowd that was gathered around him, hungry and tired. His heart was moved with pity, and he did not want them to go home without something to eat. He first said to his disciples, "give them some food yourselves." The disciples were perplexed, how could they feed a crowd of 5,000? Then Jesus did the miraculous by taking the very limited quantity of bread and fish and multiplying them enough to fill a semi-truck. Yet, this miracle would not have been successful without the ordinary and very human disciples going and distributing these miraculous loaves of bread and fish to each person. God provides the abundant nourishment, but we have to be his hands and his feet to distribute His love personally.
There is a beautiful prayer that St. Teresa of Avila composed to illustrate God's miracle being worked through us.
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
God is not asking the 94-year old lady to do something that requires extraordinary abilities. He simply asks for her 'yes' in being kind, patient, and compassionate to the men who feel lonely and asks her for a dance. The moment we say our small 'yes' to God, then He does something miraculous--He makes our small 'yes' infinite. The moment we decide to give, God multiplies our meager offering and makes an impact on others that we never could have imagined. Can we say that small 'yes' so that God can look through our eyes with compassion on this world, so that God can walk with our feet to do good, and so that God can bless the world through our hands?