When she saw me, she was clearly distraught. She said, “Father...”. I smiled and said hi, but didn’t particularly react to that, since that title is often used when I’m out in the community somewhere wearing the clerical collar, and I know it always to be meant with respect.
She continued, “Father, can you come with me?” I said “What is it? What’s wrong?” She said, starting to weep, “it’s my mom....she needs Last Rites.” Knowing full well the importance of this sacrament in the Roman Catholic community, I told her that I wasn’t a priest, but a Lutheran pastor, but that I would help her to find a priest if I could. She paused, worried, and then she looked at me, overlong really, then looked down and said, “You’ll do!” I went with her and prayed with her over her mom and marked her with the sign of the cross, commending her to God’s love and care. In the moments that followed, her mom died. The daughter was profusely grateful that I was there.
This woman’s situation of desperation, and her confusion about what the right thing to do or think, is not unknown in the history of God’s people. John the Baptist himself, probably had a pretty good idea who and what Jesus was, but still, when he had a chance, he had to ask Jesus, “Are you the one?”
Rev. Dr. Luther Symons