Just another Sunday Gospel Reflection…
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
My friend Brent — we’ll call him — used to work for a local newspaper in a small Northeastern town. He had a peculiar relationship with the paper’s editor, who always made it a point to tell people, “Pray a lot.”
Brent thought to himself, this guy must have some tough difficulties to deal with if he’s always telling people to pray a lot. “Poor guy,” Brent thought to himself.
Several years later, Brent moved to the deep South. One day, while, helping as a volunteer at a popular pilgrimage site in Conyers, GA, an uncanny experience revealed to him the deeper meaning behind his old friend’s words.
Brent had prayed not to see any apparitions or to witness any unexplainable supernatural phenomena that day. He did however reflect on the fact that he was praying a lot — he already prayed 3 rosaries that day. At one point a woman (who would become his future wife) spontaneously approached him and asked, “What are you thinking about?”
Brent would have normally responded, “Oh. Nothing,” but since he was actually thinking about something that he found interesting and different, he told her that he was just thinking about the man who used to always tell him, “Pray a lot,” and wondered what the man would say if he found out that he had prayed 3 rosaries that day. The woman remarked, “That means you are going to see him today.”
Brent thought that was unlikely, since the odds of seeing the man on this particular day just because he had been thinking about him were highly remote, especially since the last place where he saw the guy was in another town approximately 900 miles away.
Not long afterward, that evening, a bus rolls in from Brent’s home town. So he excitedly makes his way over to the bus to greet his fellow homies as they exit. Nothing seems unusual until he spots a familiar face.
Brent lets the man pass since the man does not recognize him at first. Then, after a second thought, he calls out to him, “John!”
The man stops in his tracks and turns around. “Yes?” John replies.
“I don’t know if you remember me but I used to work with you at the paper,” Brent begins to explain. John does recognize him and is both happy and surprised to see him. Brent goes on to tell him how he was just thinking of him, and reminds John of how he always used to say, “Pray a lot,” and that he was wondering what John would think if he knew that he prayed 3 rosaries that day.”
John drops to his knees and breaks down in tears.
You see, John was urged by his wife to go on that pilgrimage, because he had been going through a long period of desolation. It turns out that John was a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church, who was always fervently preaching his faith in big and small ways to whomever would hear him, but it seemed that for 35 years no one would hear him. His faith in prayer was at a critical point. He had come to Conyers seeking some sort of consolation for his grief upon seeing faith erode in peoples hearts, while he could do nothing to stop that erosion no matter how hard he tried.
Within 5 minutes after stepping off the bus, he meets Brent who is there to tell him, “The seeds you sowed all those years — your two cents worth — were not cast in vain.”