I have never had a problem believing in God. Even in my wilderness years away from the Church, God was always there in the background. Sometimes, however, He seems to take a step forward, and there have been times in my life when I believe that I have felt the touch of God, often where a coincidence has seemed too much so to be just that. One such occasion was that on the Sunday that I returned to the Church after twenty years away, the Gospel Reading was the parable of the Prodigal Son, and as I sat alone in the pew that day hearing those words, I knew that my Father was taking me in His arms and welcoming back to his family. I remember physically holding my face in my hands as the tears came.
The day I returned to the Church, I was made welcome by a couple named Barbara and Barry; an elderly couple with the slowly increasing health problems to be expected of their age. Barbara is a warm, gentle lady who has treated Caitie and I as we were part of her family, and I love her for it. Barry, a kindly, soft-spoken man with his grey Santa Claus beard is one of the most moving Lectors I have ever heard; his voice has a tremulousness and timbre to it that brings out the power and love of God’s Word as he speaks.
A few years ago, they lost a grown-up son. His name was Dickon; he was a father and a poet and he died young. They assembled a collection of his poetry into a book and gave me a copy which I keep at home. This week they lost another son, Tim. To a heart attack.
As I walked with Caitie to Mass this morning, the lady who writes the Lectors’ Roster asked me to step in and cover the 2nd Reading, which I happily agreed to. Only a few minutes later I heard about Tim’s death.
I’m a good public speaker and I strive to be a good Lector; it’s not a boast, it’s just a talent given to me by God and I am truly grateful for it and when I step up to the lectern, I pray that the Holy Spirit will use the voice he gave me to do his will and spread His Word. The 2nd Reading today happened to be one of the most haunting and beautiful in Scripture, from St Paul’s 2nd Letter to Timothy;
‘My time is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.’
As I read the words from the lectern, I knew how powerful and deeply emotional they were, but only afterwards did their relevance and poignancy really strike me. I have found in my life that sometimes God’s words touch us just when we need them and He, like a loving father, says the words which we so need to hear and which reach directly to our souls. For Barry and Barbara, I can’t think of a Scripture reading which could, with such perfect timing, reach out to them, and I am honoured and humbled that I, by sheer circumstance or Divine Will, was able to stand and read it for my friends. He was reaching out to some of his children in desperate pain. It was the Touch of God.