December 4, 2022
There once were two men, both seriously ill, in the same small room in a hospital. In fact, the room was so small that there was only one small window in it looking out onto the world. One of the patients could move somewhat and was allowed once a day to sit up in his bed next to the window. On those occasions he could look out and describe what he saw to his roommate, who as unable to sit upright, forced by illness to spend all his time flat on his back. That’s why his bed was not next to the window.
Every afternoon, when the man next to the window was propped up for his hour of treatment, he would pass the time describing to his roommate what he could see outside. From what he described, the window apparently overlooked a park where there was a lake. There were ducks and swans on the lake, and children came to throw them bread and to sail model boats. Young couples walked hand-in-hand beneath the trees, and there were flowers and long stretches of grass and games of softball. And at the back, beyond the heights of trees, was a fine view of the city skyline.
These wonderful sights the man patiently described to his sick roommate. The roommate appreciated hearing about the outside world and he perked up as he heard the descriptions. It caused him to reminisce about his own youth, of times he swam in lakes and pitched in softball games. He laughed as he spoke of pranks he and his friends had played and he sighed as he recalled the cute girls with whom he had strolled hand-in-hand. Though flat on his back, the frail man looked forward to the day’s description of life in the park. “What interesting thing would be happening today?” he thought, “what activities would be going on?” The man found a new inspiration to get better, a strong determination to one day go to that park and walk around that lake.
Unfortunately, as it too often happens, the devil had to get involved. Goodness, happiness, inspiration - the devil can’t have that! So, instead of appreciating his observant roommate, he began to resent him. “Why does he get that bed? Why does he get to look out the window? What makes him so special?” Bitterness set in. Resentment replaced appreciation.
One night, though, the man next to the window woke up with a start, hacking and coughing and struggling to breathe. The roommate only watched as the patient groped for the button that would bring the nurse running, so full of anger and self-pity was he. No one came to help, and when morning came and the nurse checked in, she found the patient dead. As soon as his body was taken away, the man asked if he could be switched to the bed next to the window. So they moved him, tucked him in, and made him comfortable.
The minute the nurses left, he laboriously propped himself up on one elbow and looked out the window. It faced a blank wall.
For centuries the people of Israel faced a blank wall. Sin had taken over and the Covenant was forgotten. Nations had marched right into their country and defeated them. Cities were destroyed, property confiscated, and citizens killed or sent into exile. For centuries it was just a blank wall.
But God loved the people so much that he sent messengers among them, prophets who would speak words of hope. Baruch, in today’s First Reading, is one of them. “Take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever…for God will show all the earth your splendor; you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.” Israel has to listen. Israel must have hope. The beauty of this world is not prohibited by a blank wall. The prophets assure us Beauty is on the way. Jesus is coming to us. Our Blessed Mother Mary made sure of that.
Reflecting on this week’s Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, St. Louise deMarillac wrote, “As into a very precious vessel, more and more graces have been poured into her soul and she has never failed to make good use of them. Therefore, with every good reason, she should be honored by all creatures and served in a particular way by Christians since she is the only pure creature who has ever found favor in the eyes of God. This makes her the astonishment of the heavenly court and the admiration of all humanity.”
We admire Mary, we seek her prayers. We want to follow her example. May we give others the hope of Jesus Christ, even if it feels like we’re facing a blank wall.
May God bless all of you.