Inside the Hospice: Being lifted up

by Fr Peter-Michael Scott 

When Bishop Paul McAleenan visited the hospice one of the patients thought I had brought my dad to work. Admittedly they were short-sighted and not wearing their glasses but they said I had obviously inherited Bishop Paul’s ability to comfort and give hope, that I was good at lifting people up.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan the injured man is lifted up and placed on his rescuer’s mount and taken to the inn. It is the action of being ‘lifted up’ which is very beautiful, and can be interpreted in many ways.
Patients often ‘lift me up’ by their insights. Recently I went to see a patient who was dying and she spoke about receiving the Eucharist as being visited by eternity. She said that, in Holy Communion, Jesus would undoubtedly have to bring heaven with him, a whole company of saints, relatives, and friends. For her, receiving the Eucharist was giving her confidence to ‘let go’ to join that large assembly. For me, this insight made me conscious that when I receive Communion I am very close to Jesus and to my parents and to all those I love who have died.
The Good Samaritan ‘lifted up’ the beaten man onto his horse and accompanied him to the inn. The injured man did not have to make the journey on his own. Often ‘lifting up’ a terminal patient is about reassuring them that they will not be alone. St Joseph’s makes every effort to ensure family, friends and staff can stay with patients as they are dying. God is the same: he does not leave us by ourselves. As death begins to draw near we must allow our hearts to be ‘lifted up’ by the words of Jesus to the good thief at his crucifixion: ‘today you will be with me in paradise’, that the company of heaven will be imminent.
Please pray for the patients, staff and volunteers of St Joseph’s Hospice.