Isaiah 25:1

Brothers and Sisters,

As I do in homilies, I will need to change the names of the people in the story.  The names that I will be using are Luke and Courtney; please remember that these are not their real names.

Last week I heard devasting news about a friend of mine.  My friend “Luke” and his wife “Courtney” have been married for just over four years and just had their second child – all good news so far.  The other week, however, they called me and told me their news.  Courtney had just received news that she has a tumor in her abdomen of an extremely rare type of cancer.  It is called paraganglioma.  I have never heard of it before.

Luke told me that – although the fact that Courtney has a tumor is scary enough for him – the scariest part of this whole situation is that there is no point in doing a biopsy on the tumor because this type of cancer has so little study associated with it (because it is so rare) and thus a biopsy cannot determine if this tumor is benign or malignant.  In any case, the tumor needed to be removed – and now.  Urgent surgery was quickly scheduled in the famous Rochester clinic.  Then come all of the questions of how to deal with the two young kids, what about work, how to inform Luke and Coutney’s parents, how to get a hotel room, how to pay for all of these unexpected expenses associated with moving the family to Rochester for a few weeks – and so on.

Through this whole situation, brothers and sisters, both Luke and Courtney have taught me to be a better Christian.  Zero times in the past weeks have they asked me why God would let bad things happen to good Christians; they have never even had a bitter feeling about their current very difficult plight.  This is a real sense from them of not only the practical “we’ve just got to get through this,” but even more so of the best of Christian senses:  we are sharing in the suffering of Christ and blessed be God for such an opportunity.

They are great people but don’t think them to be above the fray or somehow walking on water.  They don’t know what the future looks like, they don’t know how they are going to deal with the challenges that will come from this whole situation, and they are not sure how they will fare financially from this situation.  They do know, however, that Almighty God is near to them, that His Providence is revealing His will for their lives, and that through prayer and sacraments they will be able to give Him glory in their suffering.

God bless “Luke,” “Courtney,” their children, their parents, and their extended families.

God be near,

Father Jeremy