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Those of you who do not have a ‘green thumb’ will appreciate this story. After the flowers on the Easter lilies in our churches withered, I took them to the rectory to keep them alive so that I could plant them near Blessed Mother’s statue. In the morning, I put them out in the sun and added water to their pots. I checked on them in the afternoon, and they looked worse; the strong sun had beaten down already weakened plant. I quickly put them under the shade but as of day five, I only had three survivors left. I was a bit saddened by this, disappointed in my lack of skills and tender-loving-care to bring them back to life. This was playing on my mind when I was walking through the mausoleum the other day. Hanging on each of the mausoleum crypt were silk flowers that looked like fresh cut flowers, but didn’t require any water and care to keep them that way. A tempting thought popped in my mind. Why don’t I place silk flowers by Blessed Mother’s statue; I don’t need to water them or care for them. Then another thought entered—probably Blessed Mother reminding me—that her statue is still being neglected and uncared for.
Sometimes this is how we approach our loved ones. Before I entered seminary, one of the guys I worked with was describing his weekend to me. He was recently divorced and had two young daughters who came to his house every other weekend. He said he made sure he purchased everything that his girls wanted in their rooms— cable TV, laptops, gaming devices—every conceivable electronic device that the girls wanted, which they did not have at their mom’s house. There was something amiss about that, just as there was something amiss about my idea to place silk flowers by Blessed Mother’s statue. It lacked care, tenderness, and most importantly, it lacked love.
That’s why we come here today, and for some of us every day, to receive the physical touch, the Eucharist, from the one who laid down His life for us. Our Lord treats each of us uniquely with his tenderness. Some of us may approach him feeling down, feeling as if we failed in some way, or feeling as if we are tired from facing daily challenges. We are reminded through mass that He is the good shepherd; each of us belongs to him and he knows each of us by name. When we see him lifted up at mass, we realize that each of us is precious to him and hence he has sacrificed his life for each of us. He treats us like a live, delicate flower rather than a silk flower, and we are called to do the same. Let’s take time this week to see if there are persons in our lives that we can be present to in person with care and tenderness.