We recently had a “year’s mind” memorial Mass for a much-loved chaplain at our hospital. A whole bunch of people came: some, physicians and nurses and staff, current and past, who had been the objects of his wise counsel and good humor; others, past patients of Fr. Tom who had been cared for by him at the hardest times of their lives.
Many came on walkers or in wheelchairs, most of them showing the wear of years — all of them braving one of our many “arctic blasts” this winter. Memories and tears flowed equally: these people couldn’t forget a man they’d come to love over months or years, or in a few crucial days when they most needed him.
Reflecting on that Mass, I thought of Isaiah’s picture of God in today’s reading: a God who can no more forget us, his loved ones, than a woman can forget her infant child, or colleagues and patients a holy chaplain. Even if many of the good things Isaiah promised Israel aren’t always recognizable in our world – a world where lands are desolate, prisons are full, disasters natural and man-made abound – we have plenty of evidence to ground our belief in what God said then: “I shall never forget you!”
As Lent wears on, we need to keep reminding ourselves of that. We need to pray daily and confidently to the One who can never forget, the God who delivers us from all evil and provides healing balm for all our ills. God of love and mercy, be ever at our side!
—Fr. John J. O’Callaghan, S.J. is senior chaplain for the health sciences division at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood IL