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First Advent Reflection

Jim Vorbach, associate

In Sunday’s first reading, Isaiah describes a loving, creative God “O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter; we are all the work of your hands.” God molds us in God’s image, in life and transcending life. Having lost my wife Linda one year ago this week, the readings brought to mind a story early on in our journey with cancer. 

Linda was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. Over the course of three weeks she underwent several surgeries. One was unexpected, due to hemorrhaging. The surgeon said she would call me as soon as the procedure was over – about three hours. I waited for the surgeon’s call in a nearby Starbucks. Then I started walking the neighborhood of NYU-Langone Hospital to reduce my anxiety. What if the surgeon could not stop the bleeding? Of course she could, but ...what if? Time seemed to stop as I walked aimlessly. I turned one corner and there was a Catholic Church. I looked at my watch - 12:10pm. Perhaps there is a 12pm Mass. I walked in. There were parishioners, but no Mass. Then the priest walked out and approached the alter. I felt that the priest had waited for me to arrive, and I thanked him quietly. I began to feel at ease as the Mass progressed. On leaving the church after Mass, I noticed the stand with the Mass times. 12:10 pm was one of the Mass times. Linda’s surgery that day went very well. 

St. Paul writes in 1st Corinthians “He will keep you firm” and later “God is faithful”. To me, that 12:10 pm Mass was God’s continuous support and faithfulness in our daily lives. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come”. I am certainly glad I stopped at that Catholic Church near NYU-Langone Hospital and I am grateful for all the other signs along our path these past ten years, which could be summarized by “Emmanuel, God is with us”. 


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