My cousin Peter died while I was away at a conference. Peter was only 35 and struggled with a lot of demons in his life: addiction, depression, anger.
I've been beating myself up for not being there for him, not doing enough for him. And then I heard this story.
Peter had been in a rehab center in Albany and was doing well there. He attended daily chapel and was really enjoying his time getting better. His mother and sister visited him the day before he died and they went away happy, rejoicing--at how good he looked. How he was finally going to beat addiction.
It reminds me a lot of the Emmaus story. My cousin Peter too, was able to meet Jesus on his road to recovery--like those disciples who were leaving Jerusalem who didn't want to stay where their pain was--but retreated to an out of the way place.
Peter died from some kind of rupture--internal bleeding--which happens sometimes with addicts. But his toxicology report came back clean--amazing.
And while it seems cruel that Peter's life here has ended--he also met the Lord at the end and it seemed that his eyes too were opened and even for a short time he was converted by having that experience and meeting Jesus. And his life was never the same after that. His heart was burning in Albany as that bread that we share was broken. He had no need for drugs after that, no need for a drink. Jesus was the only thing that he needed because he recognized him!
Today let's pray that all our addictions--small and large ones---can be overcome by recognizing the Lord in our lives...by falling in love with our God and converting our hearts so that our lives may not ever be the same again. And let us take comfort in the fact that we need to recognize the Lord in our lives--how Jesus worked to save Peter and then called him home. We are sad today because we miss him--but we also know that we have need to recognize Jesus here as the one who heals not only Peter but ourselves. Let us recognize him in our lives as the one who can heal us from all that keeps us apart from him.
Your humble blogger is Mike Hayes, a well-known expert in the world of young adult ministry (20s and 30s) in the Catholic Church. Mike is the author of Googling God (Paulist, 2007) where he explores both the chaotic world that young people live in and their religious reactions to that world. He also explores the age of instant gratification and how churches can respond to the needs of the young adult age by using technology alongside more traditional ministry methods.
Mike founded the award winning BustedHalo.com® in 2001 and continues to contribute to it as the editor of their catechetical section appropriately named Googling God.
Recently, he left BustedHalo® to focus on more direct ministry with young people at St Joseph University Parish as a Campus Minister for the South Campus at the University at Buffalo.
He has only two loves: his adorable wife, Marion and a nine pound chihuahua named Haze, who still find him amusing enough to let them live in their home.