Maria Kozakiewicz

WORD MADE FLESH

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 13, 2015
Isaiah 50.5-9 | Psalm 116 | James 2.14-18 | Mark 8.27-35
Auigust 30,2015

One advantage of prolonged foreign travel is that you meet many new people. They sit by you as you wait for your plane. They ask to share your table in a crowded restaurant. They share the same bench in the park.

And they talk. They tell you their life's stories, share with you their joys and sufferings.

Should you, God forbid, end up in a hospital, you hear stories so personal that you might even be a bit shocked. In southern Europe, Italy included, people are far less reticent than in Canada.

The same applies to my native Poland.

I always return home spiritually richer from my travels. I am enriched by those strangers' experiences. I thank God for the gift of those meetings and the lessons learned.

In today's Gospel we are told: "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my (Christ's) sake and that of the Gospel will save it."

In the past, whenever I read this passage, I could only imagine a bleeding martyr, consumed by a Roman lion and the cheering of a thousand pagans.

HOSPITAL VISIT

I probably would still have this simplistic vision, if not for the fact this summer my sister had to suddenly go to the hospital.

'Those who lose their life for my sake, and the sake of the Gospel, will save it.'

Credit

'Those who lose their life for my sake, and the sake of the Gospel, will save it.'

Mark 8. 35

As she was being examined and diagnosed, I sat in the hospital waiting room. A woman of approximately my age sat nearby.

As time passed, we got talking. I noticed she wore a crucifix and a rosary ring on her middle finger. Elegant and slim, she had a touch of sadness in her eyes.

She had brought her ill husband to the hospital, and he was being operated on. That is not so unusual.

What was not usual was that the sick man had another woman beside her - for the past 10 years or so.

The wife had learned about his infidelity just a few months before he fell ill.

"At first all I wanted," the woman told me in her quiet voice, "was to walk away from home and never come back. I was humiliated and hurt."

She considered instant divorce and in this she had the full support of her family and friends.

GOD'S GUIDANCE

"Then, one day I went to Church, knelt before the tabernacle, and kept asking - 'What am I to do?'

"Somehow I saw my husband with the eyes of God who loved him infinitely and who was hurting as much as I was.

"I also understood that my husband rejected not only me but also God and that he was in a real danger of losing salvation."

Trembling with pain and humiliation, she decided not to pursue the divorce - not regain him for herself, but for God.

Her adult children and friends were disgusted with her decision. She became a social outcast.

So she lost whatever she had of her life in order to save her husband's eternal life.

Then the terrible illness struck him. And here we were, in the waiting room of an old hospital.