Many of you may remember one of Chicago’s more colorful mayors: Richard Daily. He ruled the Windy City with an iron fist for 21 years from 1955 to 1976. Those who worked for him often found his abrasive personality hard to take.
The story is told that one day, one of His Honor’s speechwriters sheepishly made his way to the mayor’s office to ask for a raise – which he had not had in several years.
Mayor Daily responded to the request by saying: “I’m not going to give you a raise. You are getting paid more than enough already.
The fact that you are working for a great American hero like myself should be reward enough for you.” And thus ended the conversation.
A few weeks later, Mayor Daley was on his way to give a speech to a convention of veterans. The speech was scheduled to receive national attention. In order to seem a bit spontaneous, Daley made the practice of never reading his speeches before the event – this one was no exception.
As he stood before a vast crowd of veterans, and nationwide press coverage, the mayor opened his speech for the first time and began.
“I’m concerned,” he said. “I’m concerned for you and for your families. My heart goes out to you because I am deeply troubled by how our country fails to take care of you. So today, I am proposing a 17 point plan that includes the city, state, and federal government on how to better care for our veterans.”
By now, everyone was on the edge of their seats to hear what the proposal entailed. Mayor Daley turned to the next page of the speech and saw only these words: “Now you are completely on your own-------- you great American hero. . .”
No matter how great or how small we are – no matter how important or how insignificant ---- none of us can go it alone --- we all need help. We need advocates who work behind the scenes to make us who we are. We need people who motivate us, guide us, sustain us and lift us up – especially in moments of fear and frustration.
Here in this parish of St. Patrick – I do get to work with lots of people who, when we all work together -- make this parish great – and yes, sometimes working with such gifted people is reward enough. . .
I minister alongside our Deacons: Mike Lewis and Jim Koger. Our principal, Kaci Monaghan and the wonder faculty and staff she has gathered together to make our school an awesome place – even when we have to do distance-learning.
Lily Winklejohn, who is new to our Early Childhood Center and doing wonderful things.
Robin Lamb, our liturgist and business manager keeps us humming along at liturgy and financially – making sure our bills are paid, and music is played.
Lisa Angotti puts out the bulletin, works on keeping our website updated, and keeps our team happy with their salaries and benefits.
And Mindy Lehman helps to make sure the young church is ready to receive sacraments, and others are formed in our Catholic faith.
No one of us does this alone. . . We all work together to ensure St. Patrick is a place people want to belong to --- these are the advocates I have ---and you have---- to make all that happens in this parish possible – especially during the challenging times we have had during the covid pandemic.
Jesus says in the Gospel today: “I will not leave you orphans – I will ask the Father to give you an Advocate – to be with you always.
On our journey through life as a Christian – none of us has to be alone – no one of us has to do everything – we have a community of faith that uplifts us – the Holy Spirit that empowers us --- and a God who loves us so much – God sent his son to free us from our sins and gain for us eternal life. . .
Let us always rely on our Advocates – in our families, in our Church, within our faith – and also the saintly men and women who have gone before us – to motivate us, guide us, sustain us, and lift us up – especially in moments of fear and frustration.
And now a true story of one who learned well the power of an Advocate. . . a woman by the name of Sheila Walsh who tell us:
The first weeks of my pregnancy were a blur of absolute joy. I told complete strangers that I was pregnant. I read books to the wee one I was carrying and played an assortment of songs to see if he or she was more country or pop.
At our sonogram, we learned the baby was a boy and we were so happy.
Then one phone call interrupted our happiness. I would be 40-years-old when the baby was born – and my doctor had asked for some additional tests.
When the results came back, she asked us to come to her office. My husband, Barry and I, sat on one side of her desk as she sat on the other with a brown folder in front of her.
I don’t remember everything she said, but I remember this: “Your baby is incompatible with life.”
I stared at her as if she were speaking a foreign language. This was a phrase I had never heard before. Neither Barry or I said anything. We were stunned.
The doctor went on to explain about “markers” and “abnormalities” and what my results showed. I could see her mouth moving, but I felt as if I had a glass dome over my head and I could not hear her.
Then she said that she recommended a termination of the pregnancy – the next day! I heard that, and her words snapped me back to reality. “NO”, I loudly said. “Absolutely NOT. This little one will have every day God has planned for him to live.”
We drove home in silence. There was really nothing to say.
For the next couple of weeks, I was tormented with one thought: I had begged God to give me a child – and now God was going to take him away before we had a chance to love him. . . why?
I felt as if I were falling into a dark hole. Some days I felt angry, others I was overwhelmed with sorrow. One day turned the tide for me.
I woke up early and drove to the beach. The beach was deserted; my only companions were seagulls.
I took off my shoes and walked to the edge of the water and prayed. I prayed like I had never prayed before, out loud to the wind and the waves and the gulls.
Jesus. I said. My heart is aching. I don’t understand this at all, but I just want to declare here and now that we are in this together. I’ve always needed you, but I know right now that I need you more than I ever have. I don’t know how this will end, but I’m not letting go of you for one moment. You did not promise me happiness, but you did promise you would never leave me. I’m not letting go. I’m not giving up – we are in this together!
From that time on, something inside me shifted. I had no idea how long I could carry our son, but I became relentless in my prayers, not for a perfect outcome but for the presence of a perfect Advocate.
At 35 weeks, my doctor called. I held my breath.
She told me that the day MY results had come back – so had the results of another 40 year old patient. My results had gone into her chart and hers into mine.
There had NEVER been anything wrong with our son. I fell to my knees and thanked God, but then I prayed for the mother who would be getting a very different phone call.
I believe in the sovereignty of God – and I’ve often wondered if I was allowed to carry this other mother’s burden for a while. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that when my heart was breaking, I learned to hold on to God as I never had before in my life.
Mrs. Sheila Walsh concludes: I don’t know what battle you are facing right now – what burdens you are carrying. It may be for your child, your marriage, your health, you sanity, your family or community – but I do want you to know this: no one has to carry those burdens alone! Pray and don’t give up – cling to those you love – rely on those who sustain you and lift you up. Know that you are not alone! Know that you have Advocates cheering you on. . .
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