Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the 7th SUNDAY OF EASTER – June 1, 2014. The readings for today can be found at: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/060114-sunday.cfm . Thanks as always for reading, for your comments and feedback – and for sharing this blog on Twitter, Facebook & Reddit. God Bless – Fr. Jim
A few years back, a New York City Taxi Driver shared this story, I think it was in the New York Times, but it was a really powerful one that I’ve never forgotten. The cab driver arrived at the address he had been dispatched too and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes he honked again. It was the last ride of his shift, so he was growing impatient and thought about just driving away, but something made him put the car in park and walk up to the door and knocked.. A frail, elderly voice called out ‘Just a minute.’
After a long pause, the door opened and there was this small woman in her 90’s there wearing a print dress, a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she asked, which the cab driver did and then took her other arm and assisted her slowly walking toward the curb. She kept thanking the guy for his kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, he said ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’ to which she responded ‘Oh, you’re such a good boy.’When they got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’
‘That’s not the shortest way,’ he answered … to which she shared ‘Oh, I don’t mind, I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.’ As he looked in the rear-view mirror, her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ With that, the cab driver quietly reached over and shut off the meter. And simply said ‘What route would you like me to take?’
For hours, they drove through the city. She showed the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. They drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had him pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask him to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the night slowly turned into early morning she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’. They drove in silence to the address she had given him. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as they pulled up. They were very attentive to her watching her every move.
The cabbie opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.
‘Nothing,’ he said
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ he responded.
Almost without thinking, the cabbie shared that he bent and gave her a hug. She held onto him tightly and said ‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy, Thank you.’ He squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light..
The cab driver wrote: “I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?”
In a beautiful way, this guy, is answering the prayers and hopes of Jesus in this Gospel passage. What we heard in the Gospel is a flashback to Holy Thursday at the Last Supper. Where Jesus is preparing for his Passion and Death – knowing what he is about to accomplish with the paschal mystery – knowing that for his own who will remain, it will be up to them to bring to life the Gospel for the world themselves– in real, everyday, authentic ways.
It will be up to the Church, those first apostles, for you and I sitting here in this sacred place today – and even a cab driver at the end of a shift – to look for opportunities, to expect those opportunities and to respond in a way that testifies: that the point of this life of ours is to know God and the things of God – love, mercy, compassion, justice, peace… and that the work of God, the work of discipleship is to help one another know and embrace that life, through the simplest and most hidden acts of kindness and reconciliation.
The cab driver reflecting on the unexpected fare said “I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.”
May we consistently be people who respond lovingly to those the Lord has placed into our lives. Then we will truly be brothers and sisters of the Risen One, Jesus Christ, and share in the glory to come and even experience the glory, here and now, of the Father who sent Him.