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Inside the Hospice: Recognising Jesus

by Fr Peter Michael Scott

A while ago, I came across Stan who loved Valentine’s Day. He had an album of photographs which recorded all the Februarys he had celebrated with Vera. The first page showed him as a young man standing next to his beautiful wife: he was in a suit with a trilby, and she was in a smart summer dress with a lace pillbox hat.
When I met Stan he had endured a year of chemotherapy and looked quite dissimilar to the man in the album. His smile and eyes remained the same, but he had lost hair, weight, and his skin was pale. Over the next few weeks his appearance continued to change. He remained cheerful but more kilos vanished and the once-dapper proportioned man in the album now looked like a totally different person.

Eventually, surrounded by his family, red hearts and Valentine cards, he died.

Stan’s wife and children found the days following his death difficult and were unable to sleep. They did not want their last memory of him to be of the gaunt, tired man they had seen before his death, and they could not conjure up a memory of what he looked like when healthy.

Recently when praying about the account of Jesus’s Resurrection, I thought of Stan and all those people I have accompanied as they have died. Mary Magdalene and those on the road to Emmaus must have been haunted by their last memory of Jesus as a tortured, beaten man dying on a cross. Perhaps that is why none of them recognised Jesus after his Resurrection. In their minds’ eye was the suffering Jesus, and yet before them was the Saviour returned and restored. Jesus had to tweak their good memories and they recognised him.

The important detail is that Jesus recognised them, he didn’t mind if they did not know him. At the end of our lives, even if we are changed and different, the Lord will still know who we are and what we have achieved. He will welcome us as friend and disciple and we will greet him saying ‘my Lord and my God’.

Please pray for the patients, staff and volunteers of St Joseph’s Hospice.