On Monday, Dec. 8, 2008, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dong Yun Yoon, age 37, lost his wife, his mother-in-law and two young daughters, ages 2 months and 15 months, when a military jet crashed into his house in San Diego, killing all four people.
Instead of railing again God or blaming the pilot who safely ejected, the Korean immigrant encouraged everyone to pray for the pilot so he would not “suffer from this accident.”
The man lost his entire family, but his only question to reporters was how should he go on with life after this terrible loss? “Tell me how to do it,” he said. May God give him the strength. He certainly showed us how to live as a Christian. Mr. Yoon is a Methodist – very familiar with the “Our Father.” He not only knows the words, but he also lives them. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And in his great moment of forgiveness and grief, Mr. Yoon saved his own soul, and probably many others.
St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, known as God’s Secretary of Divine Mercy, was told by Our Lord that God’s greatest attribute is His Mercy. Perhaps it is this attribute that is the hardest for many of us to understand and imitate, but Mr. Yoon undoubtedly showed us the way.
So if you were waiting for a big hammer to drop on your head for your faults and failings, don’t hold your breath because God also said that the greatest sinner had more right to his mercy than the just man. We have only to reach out for God to receive this gift of mercy.
This reaching is done with our heart. This week, I was privileged to meet a soul who had served God her whole life. She is dying of cancer, but suffers terribly because she can no longer actively go out and do works of service for God. Plus she can’t remember the words of the prayers she has recited her whole life, the Our Father and the Hail Mary. God doesn’t look at it the way she does. He sees her desire, her thirst for Him. She wants to pray. She thinks she can’t, but in the very act of wanting, she prays. Desire for God is the highest form of prayer. Jesus taught us this prayer on the cross, when He said, “I thirst.” But perhaps because He is God, His thirst was the mirror image of ours. He thirsts for us. We thirst for Him.
After He met the Samaritan woman at the well, who confessed she had no husband because she had in fact had had many, his apostles came and tried to make Him eat food. “Rabbi eat,” they said. But Jesus had just pulled in a big fish, the Samaritan woman herself and all the people from her town who came to see Him because she said, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have done.” So Jesus told the disciples, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” They wondered if someone had brought Him food while they were gone. But Jesus explained: “My food is to do the will of the One Who sent Me and to finish His work.” Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in Jesus because of the word of the woman who testified: “He told me my sins.”
And in fact, while we were still in our sins, God so loved the world that He sent His Only Son. That is what we are waiting for this Christmas -- the tiny infant Word, Who was made flesh and dwelt among us.
The first to receive God’s Word was the Blessed Virgin Mary on whose feast day, Mr. Yoon’s family was killed. “Be it done to me according to your word,” she told the angel when he announced that she would become the mother of the “Son of the Most High God.” The Catholic Liturgy of the Hours during this time of waiting for the Birth of Jesus talks about the conception of Jesus in His mother’s womb, making a reference to the fruitfulness of a gentle rain.
“May the Holy One from heaven come down like gentle rain; may the earth burst into blossom and bear the tender Savior.”
I grew up in WashingtonState where we have very gentle and constant rain. I remember my mother used to look out the window at the rain, and say, “Isn’t God good?”
Isn’t He good? Look what He has given us this Christmas – Himself, coming like gentle rain into the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Himself available anytime anywhere at any moment you ask. Just ask. Be thirsty. “Let anyone who thirsts come to Me and drink.” (John 7:37)