Where Would He Go?

by Maria Cristina Coutinho

MH Belgium

20th Anniversary

We recently celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the foundation of MH Belgium. We have so much to be thankful for. The grace of God was there when we arrived, stayed with us constantly, and is still with us today. Here are some of the concrete signs of this intangible presence.

After a man had come to our doors asking for food every day for a week, we had to tell him that we could not give him a food bank package every day. Normally we give these packages once a month to those who are on our list of people in need. So this guy just started crying and said, “If I could not come here every day, where then would I go?”

Fr. François Barbieux, president of the seminary in Namur, recently came with some seminarians for a retreat. Some years ago, before beginning seminary, he spent a year with us. Seeing his priesthood being fruitful is a blessing for us and a great joy. Other priests come often to our house especially for an anti-burnout day of rest. They confirm us in our call to pray for them and for all priests.

A lonely neighbor phoned; one of her cats was missing. She has nine cats but one of them was missing and she said “I called you to let you know I am in distress.” Some hours later she called again to say that the cat was found. He had come back, and she was calling to share her joy with us.

The technician for our elevator came to check it, as is required in the contract we have with his company. But we were in lockdown and the elevator was working well. We wondered why he had come.

As if he guessed our question, he said, “I just like coming here. Despite my fear, I feel peaceful here.” He told us that he had been called to check elevators in several senior homes that were infected with the coronavirus, and though he was afraid, he had been required to go there anyhow.

A friend who doesn’t believe in God, or at least thinks he doesn’t believe, decided to fast during Lent to be in solidarity with us. He has been doing that for several years now. He also buys us the lamb for our supper on Holy Thursday. Now he admits he believes in mystery.

Someone who is in prison phones once in a while. Every time he calls, he tells us he wants to let us know he prays for us and is thankful for our friendship. We all pray for him, and for his family who does not live far from us.

Another friend who has leukemia called from the hospital. He was in isolation waiting for a bone marrow transplant. When we said we were praying for him, he started crying and said, “I hope I will still be able to knock at your doors again”.

And then he came one day to our door—not yet fully healed but grateful to have a cup of herb tea and be with us.

“Alone is alone,” says another friend who lost his wife a year ago and lives by himself. Every day now he comes to our house and spends a little while with us. So he is less lonely when he leaves saying, “I love you all and I pray for you”.

We could go on. All this is to say that in the mysterious graces of ordinary life we know Christ is at the door and if we let Him in, He sets the table for us and feeds us. Sometimes we need detective eyes to see His presence.

May Mary, the Mother of the Church, intercede for us and give us eyes of faith to see. Maybe we should all write detective stories!