Visiting the Sick - The Gift of Being Ministered To
by Deacon Thomas Frankenfield
This week I am taking a short break from my reflections on the Spiritual
Works of Mercy to share with you a simple event in my life that has made
a profound and lasting impact.
The past few weeks have been a real struggle for my family and me. I had
routine knee surgery on the 9th of June and truly expected to recover
quickly. In fact, I was back on the Altar assisting at Holy Mass, the
Sunday about 9 days after the operation. My community praised God for my
quick recovery and once again, I began to fill my appointment book with
meetings; serving the People of God—those I love deeply.
However life always has its twists and turns. Suddenly, there were
complications and before I knew it, I was being swept back into the
operating room the following Tuesday. (How quickly life can change.) Now
about 12 days later all seems well and back on track.
During this emergency, some amazing things happened that are important
to share. So, this week, the story I will share is mine. How God touched
me deeply through the love and care of His people.
How God Ministered To The Minister
My Tuesday seemed normal. I finished Morning Prayer, had my coffee and
was soon on the way to the hospital for a routine appointment. (Thanks
to God that I remembered the medical staff in my morning prayers. I also
blessed our Chapel staff who was smoothly running our “priest-less
parish” in my absence.) I entered the hospital proudly using my new cane
which I had graduated to after stumbling for a week on crutches.
In serving God, I have spent lots of time at the hospital (both as a
patient and in ministry) and thus have met many fantastic people. So on
this morning, I took time to visit many of the offices on the way to my
doctor. Visiting people is one of God’s gifts in my ministry. I love it
because I firmly believe that a large part of ministry is not as
complicated as we make it –it is as simple as just being present to
people, so God can work through us. (Now, that would be a great article
for another time.)
Finally I finished my visits and met my surgeon. With this great start,
I had a vein of cheerfulness running throughout my system. (That was
about to quickly change.) The first sign of difficulty was how my
surgeon’s face changed from a smile to a furrowed brow. Next, he
informed me that my incision was seriously infected and immediate action
was necessary. Thus, in the time it takes to say a rosary, I was on my
way to surgery. It was so quick that I barely had a chance to contact my
wife. I was alarmed I would not see her and feel her comforting touch.
Alone in the operating prep room, I took the opportunity to drift off
into centering prayer to help calm my nerves and to draw strength from
the Lord. During the peace of that moment, I was suddenly touched by a
hand. I thought, finally my wife was here. No, it was not my wife but
one of my colleagues, a chaplain. Tim was notified of my situation and
rushed to the hospital--just like I have done for others many times, Tim
took my hands in his and together we prayed. He shared God’s love with
me and blessed me. Soon he left me to visit with my wife who had also
arrived. It was so quick and so gentle but so important to me in that
time of personal pressure.
A Reflection on these Events
When I reflect on the events, it is unmistakable that God reached out to
me in my time of need. He called Tim forth and Tim said “Yes.” Praise
God for his love and Praise God for people like Tim.
Over years of my ministry, I have visited hospitals many dozens of time.
Some times I have grumbled when a hospital visit might not have fit to
my schedule. Of course, I remember those times when the situation called
for special treatment when I have spent days and weeks with families.
Each has been a reflection of my personal relationship with God and the
People of God.
But today I focus on those simple, “five minute” visits like the visit
by the chaplain, Tim. With all that experience, it is clear to me that I
still do not fully appreciate the impact these simple visits have on
people’s lives. The peace that Tim’s prayer and presence brought to my
heart in my time of uncertainty was a powerful sense of healing. I am
very thankful that he said “Yes” to God’s call and took the time to
visit with me.
Touched by the Divine
Over the past week I have begun to regain strength and everything is
close to normal, except for the change to my heart. I was touched by the
Holy and I am changed. On my part, I recommit myself to take more time
with the People of God and bring the presence of Jesus to them wherever
they may be. I have a deeper realization of how much God is truly in
charge of my life. Daily, I ask Him to be My Lord and My God. I also ask
you to join me in doing the same. Take time for those who need you. From
the sick to the lonely, God is calling each of us to take His love to
them. Please be like Tim…say “Yes” to God’s call.
May God bless you all and may you have the courage to continue to say a
loud and loud “yes” to the Lord.
I would love your feedback, thoughts, stories and ideas. Please email me.
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