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Mar 23, 2021 665 Sean Booth,
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The Home Run

There’s something precious within you!

They say the only two sure things in life are death and taxes. But having spent my working life in the construction industry and having known people who made money dealing drugs, I can safely say the quote is only half true. Death surely does await us all, though most of us rarely think about it until we are forced to. We focus on our mortal, temporal bodies and forget about our eternal souls.  But eternity is real and now is the time to decide where we want to spend it.

A few years ago, I had the privilege and blessing of volunteering with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in a Calcutta (Kolkata), India home for the destitute, sick, and dying. Mother Teresa said, ‘A beautiful death is for people who have lived like animals to die like angels.’ I was blessed to experience such a death first-hand during my first visit to India.

I was staying with religious brothers on the night they received the news that Mother Teresa’s successor as superior of the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Nirmala, had died. The community was in mourning and as I prayed I felt the night sky change. It was as if Heaven was opening to receive this holy and faithful woman. Strangely, though, I felt the “opening” was not just for Sr. Nirmala, but also for someone else who would die soon. I felt in my spirit that someone in the home where I was volunteering would die the following day. I even wrote it in my journal. That night, I barely slept.

The following morning after attending Holy Mass and praying upon entering the home, I immediately went to the two most seriously ill men to make sure they were still living. Thankfully, they were. I set about my duties as usual. But soon one of the sisters took me by the arm and asked if I knew how to pray. I told her I did.

She took me to a man she believed had not long to live and asked me to pray with him. I sat at his bedside with my hand on his heart and began to pray. His eyes were staring at the ceiling and I sensed he had totally given up. He had lost so much weight that his face had grown gaunt and his cheeks hollow. His eyes were so sunken in that his tears pooled in the corners of his eyes and couldn’t run down his cheeks. My heart ached. As I prayed, I could see the hand I had placed on his chest moving up and down slower and slower with each successive breath.  His life was slipping away. Upset, I began to ask God questions: Does this man have a family and if so, where are they? Why aren’t they here? Do they know what has become of this man? Do they care? Does anybody care?

Through my prayer, I began hearing drumbeats coming from the Hindu temple next door, a temple dedicated to the goddess Khali (the goddess of death). The drumbeat grew steadily louder. I sensed a battle raging for this man’s soul. When I saw him take his last breath, I closed my eyes and wept.

But when I opened them again, I suddenly found the answers to my questions. Unbeknown to me, two of the sisters, a brother, and another volunteer had also gathered around the deathbed. They stood silently in prayer.  Did anybody care? Of course, they did! Where was his family? Right there praying for him–the family of God! I broke down in tears regretting how I had questioned God but also filled with awe and gratitude for His infinite goodness and mercy. I could not ask for anything more special at the hour of my own death than to be surrounded by people fervently and lovingly praying for my salvation. As I closed my eyes to pray again, I saw an image of the deceased man dressed in brilliant white, walking towards Jesus. Jesus’ arms were open wide as he waited for the man and then embraced him with great love. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

But God had more light to shine into my heart. With my hand still on the dead man’s chest, I opened my eyes and saw a man in a nearby bed who had soiled his pants. No one else had noticed him, so I had a decision to make: I could continue praying for a man who I now believed to be with Jesus or I could get up and help restore another man’s dignity. It was an easy choice. I stood up straight away and cleaned the bedridden man and put fresh clothes on him. What I heard silently in my heart was, ‘life goes on’.

Those who walk with Jesus know death is not to be feared. In fact, Christians, death should excite us: Paul says it persuasively: ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:38-39).

Yes, life goes on, but for each of us it will also end one day. Our time here is short, and eternity is long’. So, with St. Paul let us forget ‘what lies behind and (instead) strain forward to what lies ahead and press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:14).

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Sean Booth

©Sean Booth is a Lay Missionary of Charity and has just begun studying a Bachelor of Divinity theology degree at Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, England, UK. He shares his incredible encounter with Jesus through the Shalom World TV program “Jesus My Savior”. To watch the amazing story. visit: https://shalomworld.org/episode/a-prisoner-finds-jesus-seanbooth.

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