Filed Under:  Columns, OpEd, Opinion

Angels/God’s Messengers are all around

20th May 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

Persistent ringing of my doorbell brought me posthaste to my front door where I was greeted by a frantic mother and one obviously anxious child. Though the weather was moderate, she sweated freely as she pleaded her case rapidly and with misgivings.

“Our lights have been turned off and we have no food in the house! We don’t know what to do and we’re waiting for my husband to come home from work!”

Evidently, the husband’s work was not sufficient to cover expenses, to stave off the collectors for utility bills and to keep the wolf of hunger away from the house.

Initially, I pondered the wrong move, trying to figure how I could personally help those folks who were teetering on the edge of desperation. I knew going in that my cash reserves were near zero and my debit card was hardly better. But, coming to my senses, I remembered that we are a multi-tiered team here at OMM church.

“Wait,” I told the mother, “until I call Earline Robinson, the coordinator for our parish branch of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She will know how to resolve this.”

I explained to our sister Earline Robinson that there was a lady with me who needed to get medication from a pharmacy, that her family’s utilities had been cut off and that the family had no food. Unfortunately, it was already so late in the afternoon that all the food banks were closed for the day. However, we could go to a pharmacy.

“There is a Walgreens at Lancaster and Oakland,” Earline told me. “I can meet you and the lady there and I can write a check to cover the cost of the medication.”

“Excellent! We will see you there,” I assured her as I nodded to the lady and her young daughter. Donning my shirt and collar, I cleared the car for them to sit in comfort. We made our way to the pharmacy in good time, but we did not see Earline. Unbeknown to us, she had arrived a bit ahead of us, but was watching for us in a different section.

As it turned out, the medicine was available over the counter. The clerk alertly found the medicine that, surprisingly, cost much less than we had thought. But even that was too much for me, since I had counted my cash and distractedly left it home.

Just as Earline discovered us and was coming upon the scene, the clerk rang up the item and handed me the receipt. She had been observing me as I searched for the cash that was not there. As I tendered my debit card, she smiled broadly, looked at the lady, then looked back at me reassuringly and said, “It’s all right! I have it!”

My heart skipped a beat and I think the lady’s heart skipped a couple of beats. I thanked her profusely as did the baffled lady. In a flash, the clerk was off to complete her chores. As we turned to go, I asked, “What is her name. Call her and ask her!”

She reappeared briefly and said with a beautiful smile, “Vivian!”

We thanked her again and I told her, “Vivian, you are our angel today! You are God’s messenger to us in our time of need! Thank you so very much!”

The powerful song began to flood my mind, “All night, all day, the angels keep awatching over me, my Lord. All night, all day, the angels keep awatching over me.” My eyes began to mist over and I’m sure the lady and her daughter experienced the same.

Back at the rectory, I scrounged together some victuals such as dried beans – of which I always have an abundance – brown rice and a few other items that would sustain the family till the next day when they could access one of the city’s food pantries. Their main asset was that they still had a roof over their heads and walls to protect them.

Earline Robinson was scheduled to meet with them the following morning in order to take care of their utilities bill. That happened in timely fashion as Earline led the family through the assistance routine of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. One misfortune is that our funds are nearly depleted after helping just one or the other needy family.

Earline teams with Ruby Rob­in­son and Peter Roehl to do what angels like Vivian do on the spur of the moment. However, this Christ-like work is not without its hazards.

Helping the needy is not only a ministry but an art as well, for the great danger in helping others is that we may help in ways that create dependence and enable harmful habits.

Painfully, while hoping to be ministering assistant angels, we must often weigh the pros and cons before jumping in to help a person or family. Coupled with experience, patient observation and listening usually enable us to discern who really needs us, for the greedy generally separate themselves from the needy by bad attitude and ingrown habits.

It is of infinite interest that, in describing the Last Judgment in Matthew 25:31-46,

Jesus confines the criteria for his judgment to, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

This article originally published in the May 20, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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