|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love is More Than What We Do
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Cindy had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a successful surgery and completed several sessions of her chemotherapy. In the midst of this, her hair was thinning and large clumps were beginning to fall out. Her heart was broken because she knew she had to shave her head but she was horrified by the thought of going into a beauty salon where they would unceremoniously shave her head.
She went to her husband and said, “I want you to shave my head. Right now.” He paused and said, “Right now?” She said, “Now. Let’s get it over with.” He stuttered and stumbled and said, “Okay. Are you sure you want to do now?” She snapped, “Yes. I want to get it over with.” She brought a chair into the bathroom, sat down and he put his hand on her shoulder and slowly and gently shaved her head, pausing occasionally asking, “Are you doing okay?” She gently said, “Sure.” As the tears started to drop down from her face.
At the end of it, Willie, her husband, said, “That doesn’t look too bad.” “Oh stop it!” she said, “I look like a chicken neck.” They both laughed together as he put his hands on her shoulder and said, “But you are my chicken neck!” And kissed her baldhead. Cindy got up from the chair to clean up the mess, but Willie gently took her hand and asked her to please stop, to let him do it. She watched her husband gently gather all her beautiful hair from the floor.
Cindy writes in her memoirs saying, “In that moment I realized that this gave my husband great comfort. He was finally able to do something for her. In these last months he had felt so helpless. This was perhaps the most spiritual and romantic evening of my life since my wedding day.”1
Love is more than what we do; it is how we do it. It is how we reach out to those who are in need with a gentle touch, a caring word, a simple gesture that can penetrate not just the skin but all the way deep into our hearts.
Today we hear the continuation of the Last Supper Discourse. Jesus has just washed the feet of his disciples and Judas has left the room. He tells them, “I am on my way, I am going to go, listen to what I have to say.” “I have a commandment: Love one another.” And he had just demonstrated this love through humble service by washing their feet.
Eucharist was once known as a sacrament of love. And in this season of First Communion, many young people are looking for models of that love. They look primarily to their parents, their godparents and their grandparents. But they will also look to us as the first models of how to love one another. It is not only what we do but the way we do that will make all the difference. Love one another!
(Endnotes) 1 Cindy Williams Newsome, in Spirituality & Health, January-February 2010 as quoted in “Connections” (Mediaworks, Londonderry, NH: May 3, 2010)