Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 4, 2002
Leonard heard the Lord knocking
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
It was the worst snow storm in years. My cousin Leonard was alone at home in Stony Plain County some 50 kms west of Edmonton when he suffered a major heart attack.
He called for help. The roads were blocked, the visibility was nil and by the time they got to him, Leonard was gone. It was an incredible tragedy for his wife Jeannine, their four children, the extended family and friends, especially since no one saw it coming.
Six months before, a family reunion had been called to celebrate Leonard's 50th birthday. Many relatives from Saskatchewan had come and stayed at Leonard and Jeannine's home. Leonard was the picture of health, hard work and no nonsense.
But there was another side to Leonard that people had started to notice. The guests were surprised when early Sunday morning Leonard was waking people up for church and breakfast. For church?
One of the guests during the breakfast conversation confronted Leonard. "What's happening to you Len? You never used to go to church much, you'd swear a lot and always had some dirty jokes to tell. And now we haven't heard one swear word from you, no more dirty jokes. And now you haul all of us to Mass!"
Leonard replied simply: "Last summer I went to the pilgrimage at Lac Ste. Anne for the first time, and something happened to me there that made me change my life."
I remember well Leonard's visit at Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage. Cousins had invited him and Jeannine to come with them to the pilgrimage and they jumped in for the ride.
That powerful spiritual experience was a transforming moment. A man who had dedicated his life mostly to hard work and little else perhaps, met Jesus at the pilgrimage. He experienced God's unconditional love for him and he welcomed that love totally.
Jesus found a beautiful open heart in Leonard and filled it with his love. And Leonard was a changed man. Not only did he quit negative habits, he began to attend church faithfully.
The parish priest let me in on a secret: Leonard, a most handy man, had offered to help the priest around the church. He would mow the lawn in the summer and clear up the snow in the winter, wash the floors and volunteered for any task or repair that might be needed.
Leonard was a very gifted man who somehow was able to transform a snowmobile into a potato picker. He got the cold water from his well to circulate through the furnace around the house in the summer to cool it off. That same water that had warmed up in the process would then be used to water his potato patch.
There was little he could not do around a church in need of cleaning, repair and renovation. No one noticed, no one knew except for the pastor who shared that with me before the funeral.
In the Scriptures we read: "Behold, here I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me knock and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him" (Revelations 3:20).
Leonard heard the Lord knocking at the door of his heart that afternoon at Lac Ste. Anne. And Leonard welcomed the special gift that came his way and he opened the door wide for the Lord to become part and parcel of his journey.
The Lord filled him with his Spirit and transformed his life. And some months later, the Lord came to Leonard, took him by the hand and brought this good and faithful servant home.
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