When I was in Ecuador, I got to spend time with a few Irish missionary priests and share in the ministry and efforts that they are doing. One day one of them asked me, “Would you like to come to a first communion?” OK, I said. Another young guy who was visiting the mission also came along. So the three of us headed out on a one-hour drive to a city and passed through over to the outskirts. After passing into a remote area, we headed down a little unfinished road for about 15 minutes, until finally, almost in the middle of nowhere, we suddenly arrived at a little hut-like arrangement of casas. It was a little religious community nestled in the outskirts of a big city.
So we got out and after some greetings we found out that there were a total of 5 first communions and also a baptism. Once it was known that the first disabled girl was going to receive first holy communion, others wanted to as well. It had turned into something bigger than we thought.
So we entered through a small gate and made our way to the chapel. As we got closer, you could hear the sound of a river gradually getting louder, the birds were singing, and a great peace seemed to settle in everywhere around us. Inside the chapel some people were praying before the Eucharist, and I and Gabriel settled in near the back, just to wait and pray.
Well, a few minutes later, a whole crowd of people slowly comes in to find a seat and tightly fill up this whole chapel. And then one by one, 5 or six disabled children, dressed in the most beautiful white, came in to find a seat. Some walked with crutches, some with assistance or in a transport chair, some were carried. So the beauty won me over and began to open up the water faucets in my eyelids.
So the Mass begins, and part way through it, a young girl dressed in white near the front gets up and with assistance makes her way to a baptism font. There are the prayers and responses with the priest, the water and oil, and just after the girl is baptized with the water, the people in the religious community, they start singing this music that sounds literally like angels. It gently breaks through the deep silence and the background trickling noise from the river. Harmonies blending and dancing, “Bautismo!” The waterflow from my eyelids increased. All I could think of was, that this is what heaven is like. I have a nice seat with a view in heaven.
So I happen to notice that near the front is a woman holding a girl who is quite disabled and must have experienced severe brain damage at some point in her life. Her condition is almost exactly like my own sister’s, so I know a little bit about it. Looking at the woman, I wasn’t sure if it was her mother. Well, the time came for holy communion, and one by one, these disabled young people, all dressed in white, came forward, some on crutches, some carried, some by chair, to receive holy communion for the very first time. The music is singing along again with its spellbinding harmony and gentleness, and now I’m really crying from the beauty of it all.
Finally, after everyone else, a woman comes and takes the girl I had noticed in the front from the woman who was holding her, to bring her up for her very first communion. At that point, the woman seated began to sob deeply. In that moment, I knew it was the girl’s mother, and I couldn’t help but join with her. The music began again, and her mother sobbed out loud, a crying of relief mixed with sadness, as this little girl, dressed in the most beautiful white dress, severely brain-damaged and really incapable of speaking or moving herself, received Jesus in holy communion for the very first time. The girl was brought back to her mother, who held her while, what seemed like out of nowhere, a bunch of children surrounded her, some taking pictures, some just smiling. And this music was singing, and now I’m really a mess from crying and had to make my own way over to receive communion as well. I’ve got my head down as best I can, and I get to walk by the girl and her mother and the children, and receive holy communion. It was like being in heaven.
So afterwards, I was able to talk with the mother, tell her about my own sister, how grateful I was to be there, and she gave me a big hug. After walking away, I was told that once they found out that this girl was going to receive her first communion, the 5 disabled children and their families also wanted it. also that that little girl was nine years old, and that she had already had 4 heart attacks. The latest one was two weeks earlier, and the doctors said she wouldn’t live much longer.
Her mother wanted her daughter to receive her first and last holy communion before she died. And she brought 30 people with her.
Who can bring people to God? Barack Obama and Mitt Romney can’t. David Ortiz, Tom Brady, Kevin Garnett, none of them. Donald Trump? Bill Gates? Nope. Nope for Justin Bieber and Kate DDDDD can’t. The whole US military or the government? Ditto. Only God can bring people to God. That’s what Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (Jn 6:44)
But this 9-year-old girl did it. She didn’t have a fundraiser, or get behind a cause, she didn’t start a non-profit, or write a blog, or travel the world. She didn’t send money, she didn’t go out to the streets and try to convince people of anything. She didn’t have rallies for rights, or a group that could change society for the better. She didn’t protest to people about the conditions of things, the politics and the morality of the day. She didn’t get ordained in the clergy or become a community activist. In fact, she didn’t do anything.
With her poverty and weakness and disability, with her total dependency and her four heart attacks, with her impending death, she brought about 30 people to God in one day. She did the impossible.
She got her Dios ability from her disabilities.
Jesus did a lot of great things for people in His three years of ministry. But on the cross He shows what is the secret behind it all. It’s when He’s poor and naked, crucified and disabled, dependent and powerless and rejected when He shows the secret to all His Dios abilities: “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (Jn 12:32)
We can do the impossible. We can do what none of the famous or powerful or successful or wealthy people in the world or in our social circles can do. We can do what only the Creator of the Universe, the Redeemer of the World, the Almighty, can do.
We can bring people to Him.
Where do we get this Dios ability?
From our disabilities.
For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor 1:26-29)