Doing the Lord's work in hospitals and schoolsDEACON DOUGLAS MCMANAMAN
It was from observing good nurses – kind and cheerful nurses – that I learned what being a teacher of high school kids is fundamentally about.
What does this mean for us? It means this: If you live your life in Christ, cling to him, love him, share in his sufferings – which you do already – , if your hope is in him, then he will raise you from the dead. In other words, death will not have the final word over your life. Christ will have the final word over your life, and he will command you to rise, and when you rise, you will have a body like his, a glorified body that will never die, that will never be subject to illness. And all the sufferings that you endured here on this earth, in this life, will be like a distant memory of a bad cold you once had. The sufferings of this life are nothing compared to the joy that awaits us in heaven.
That's what Christ's death on the cross accomplished. God entered into human suffering in order to be present to all those who suffer, to be present to them in the depths of their suffering. He transformed the shame of the cross into something glorious and powerful. Our protection from evil comes from this cross. And this cross is the visible proof and sign of just how much the Lord loves us and pays attention to us. He wanted to enter into the worst of human suffering to join you and all of us in ours. So this is a joyful day, a day of great hope.
I want to say a few words to any nurses who might be here. I hope you are aware of the great dignity and nobility of your vocation. You have been called by God to serve Him in his disguise. He disguises himself under the appearance of your patients. Because God entered into the worst human suffering, He is present in the very depths of the sufferings of your patients, and so when you love them, and are patient with them, when you smile at them, and are kind to them, you are loving God Himself.
I always tell my students who are going off to study to be nurses that there two things to remember when you are a nurse, two words to keep in mind that describe the best medicine for your patients: kindness and cheerfulness.
I know, because I've spent lots of time in hospitals. When my mother was dying, she spent 9 months in the hospital, and when you have someone you love in the hospital, there's nothing we value more than a kind and cheerful nurse. When you are lying in bed and you've been cut open like a fish fillet, a nurse that smiles and is kind is like water in the desert. And it was from observing good nurses – kind and cheerful nurses – that I learned what being a teacher of high school kids is fundamentally about. It too is about kindness and cheerfulness. Sure, it's about teaching the curriculum, but most important, it is about kindness and cheerfulness. To be kind and cheerful when you don't want to be, when you are tired and irritated demands great charity. You really have to be able to conquer yourself, to rise above your own moods. Not everyone is willing to do that, but God provides the grace to do just that, and it is a very noble vocation to be called to that.
Remember, when you love and console your patients, you love and console God Himself who resides in the depths of their suffering. The money you make will not follow you in heaven, but every moment that you brought comfort to your patients by your kindness and cheerfulness, those moments will follow you into eternity and they will be bright jewels in your crown. Try to get as many as you can. Amen.
Deacon Douglas McManaman. "Easter Sunday Homily, 2010." CERC (April 2010).
Given at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health hospital in Toronto.
Printed with permission of Deacon Douglas McManaman.
Copyright © 2010 Douglas McManaman
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