A recent event series at work bolstered my belief in the “eye on the sparrow” faith principle.
My colleague, John, began serving in Viet Nam during 1968.
Before John left for Viet Nam, his great-uncle gave him a beautiful, simple cross on a sturdy chain which John wears constantly.
Receiving such a manifestly faith-inspired object from a relative of that level of family seniority has inherent meaningfulness. Yet, this instance has more meaningfulness still, since John is the great-nephew of the late Humberto Cardinal Medeiros, then a Bishop; and who would within 5 years become Cardinal Archbishop of the Boston Archdiocese. Cardinal Medeiros also blessed the piece, an important part of the spiritual significance to John.
The year 2008 also marks the 25th anniversary of Cardinal Medeiros’s death, and the 40th year since John began his Viet Nam service.
Throughout those 40 years, John has had several health challenges, always insisting when hospitalized that the cross and chain stay with him. If medical reasons prevent wearing it, he keeps it under a pillow or some other place within reach.
During April 2008, John needed an MRI to determine if further treatment of a cancerous condition were required or if it appeared the cancer had successfully been fully removed: a procedure requiring the piece’s removal.
Dressing in street clothes again, John realized the cross and chain were not in his pocket.
John was, as he described it, quite “bummed” at loss of this meaningful faith witness item.
Nothing more, however, remained to be done.
Approximately a week before the July 4th holiday weekend, John got excellent news: the cancer had successfully been fully removed with no further treatment, such as chemotherapy, required.
On the actual holiday, July 4th, John received a telephone call from the hospital, described by John as follows.
Hospital Attendant: We understand, Mr. Medeiros, that during a recent MRI procedure you lost a Cross and Chain?
John: That’s right.
Hospital Attendant: We have it here for you. The person who had it returned it. Would you like to come pick it up?
When John retrieved the piece, the hospital attendant said the individual who had the piece had found it on the floor; and thought it lost or abandoned. Whereas, however, it had apparently simply fallen out of John’s pocket during the procedure.
The attendant told John: The person said that they must return it, and that ‘I think you need to get this back to whoever owns it.’ The individual indicated that during the interval that person had had possession of the piece, that individual had experienced ‘nothing but bad luck.’
As I listened to John tell the story after the holiday weekend, I was reminded of Jesus’s assurance that not a sparrow falls to the ground without God’s awareness.
Just so, it seems that Our Lord, assisted perhaps in the hereafter by the spirit of John’s great-uncle, tracked the spiritual connection between John and this special faith invested piece: assuring its return to its rightful owner.