Many years ago when I was in the business world, I often got together with another gentleman whom I looked up to greatly, as he was the young maverick of the industry.
He was one of those guys who was very inspiring and had it all going in his favor. It was late in the month, as I remembered, as I was busy trying to get some transactions funded before month-end, when he called and insisted we go to lunch. He always had a little more expensive taste and we ended up at his favorite spot. This particular restaurant had white table cloths, real silverware wrapped in linen napkins and the wait staff was always extremely accommodating.
As we sat down, I anticipated hearing yet another nugget of what made him successful, so I could practice that myself. Deep within my own heart, this was the guy I wanted to be. Instead, he started in on a litany of all of the things that he does as a husband and a father, and how his wife falls short of doing the things he expects her to do to satisfy him based on the lifestyle he provides.
As I was listening to his complaints about his life, unbeknownst to him, God was unfolding another narrative.
A husband and wife came and sat at the table just in back of my friend. This couple caught my eye in a very particular way; first, the husband was pushing his wife in a wheelchair. He stopped short of the table as the hostess moved the chair out from under the table so that this man could comfortably push his wife into place at their table.
They were a seasoned couple—a bit older—and they were dressed very sharp. As the man pushed his wife into place, I noticed that she was unable to use any of her limbs. The care that this man displayed was extraordinary and he did it with such grace. He unrolled the white napkin, placed it on his wife’s black turtleneck, tucked it in just below her chin, picked up her glass of ice water, gently held the glass to her lips, set the glass down and kissed her on the forehead. This woman, his wife, had the look in her eye of pure joy, pure love.
As the man sat down, I caught his eye as he wiped his own brow, as I figured he started his day quite early to get himself ready along with getting her dressed, loaded, and situated for their day out. He too had that spark of joy in his eye.
What I witnessed while at lunch that day was the battle over the meaning of life. Mother Teresa said it best, “We are not called to be successful, we are called to be faithful.”
While attending Mass this week, may we look up at the crucifix and contemplate deep in our own hearts the suffering that Jesus was willing to endure so as to teach us the true authentic meaning of sacrificial love. What kind of men and women are we going to choose to be? Will we allow Jesus to crucify our selfishness so as to be set free; free to love others, especially our spouse, as he loves us?
For Lent this year, let’s embrace the concept of loving our spouse faithfully, just as I saw in the couple at the restaurant that day.