The Christmas season didn’t get real for me until this morning.
It wasn't a nativity scene - un nacimiento - that brought this on - but witnessing the anointing of the sick.
The nacimientos can be very moving - though they are often amusing as the people put all sorts of items in the display - from Snow White on a horse to Winnie the Pooh and a half-naked Barbie doll.
Everything is present at the birth of the Savior - even if his image gets lost amid the other figures.
I went to Dulce Nombre to go with Padre German to Mass in two towns – Quebraditas and San Augustín. But first we went to visit a very sick woman who lives outside of the nearby town of Concepción.
We got there, down a rutted dirt road, through a field, and up a hill. We first passed by a very poor house with a mother and four kids.
The old woman, 81 years old she told us, had been in Tegucigalpa but was abandoned by some of her family. But finally ended up in this dirt-poor house. The floor was dirt and the house was of bahareque – mud and sticks p with a tin roof. Three members of the family – a couple and their 15 year old son escorted us into the room where Adela was lying on the bed. She was so sick that she could only consume liquids.
The woman had not been baptized (as well as she could remember). So Padre German baptized her conditionally, gave her the anointing of the sick, and shared communion with her.
The poverty was tangible.
As I watched and listened, I noticed a small picture of the Baby Jesus in the manger over Adela’s bed.
In a place like this, Jesus was born, God became flesh.
In the midst of poverty God comes to save us.
As he left, Padre German told the couple that he could send over some basic grains when they needed them.
We left for Mass in Quebraditas.
As Mass was finished I spoke with a young woman whom I know whom I find very thoughtful. She told me that her mother was very ill, suffering for nine months, and that the doctors still haven’t been able to treat her adequately. She thinks it’s something to do with the liver.
I told Padre German and he went to anoint her mother and share the Eucharist with her. It was moving as the spouse and several of the children and grandchildren gathered around her bed. Tears were flowing.
As we left, Padre German got a call and a request for another anointing. On our way to San Augustine we stopped in Granadillal, where Padre German spoke at length with the 77 year old man and anointed him. The house was poor – with just one bed. But a crowd gathered – some relatives and about 8 kids (who may or may not have been related.)
Mass at San Augustin was not as crowded as normal – probably because of the coffee harvest. Padre German asked me to preach – to give him a little relief.
It may seem strange but the three anointings of the sick have made Christmas more real – especially the first visit.
God has come among us as a poor, defenseless baby. Today he came, in a special way, to visit the sick and dying.
Our God doesn’t save us – or give us hope – from afar.
|Children in Debajiados, December 23, 2012|
He pitches his tent among us – in the midst of the poor houses of the poor.