Pietà

During my time as a hospital chaplain I’ve had the privilege of interacting with a variety of foster parents. Many feel called to the compassionate task of caring for children with chronic illness and differing abilities. They spend a lot of time in doctor’s offices, appointments, and children’s hospitals. Sometimes the biological parents are involved. Sometimes not.

The other day I was called to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) by a patient’s nurse. She informed me that the biological mom was tearful while the foster mom was holding steady. Both were bedside. The little boy in the hospital bed was very sick, and the family (biological and foster) made the impossible decision to withdraw care in order to take away the suffering that this small patient had endured for far too long.

When I entered the room the biological mom was having a hard time, and after introductions she said she needed to step out of the room. I escorted her to the lobby and showed her where she could find the garden. She excused herself full of anticipatory grief. I went back upstairs into the patient’s room again to discover the patient out of bed with the foster mom cradling and rocking him in her arms. With tears now in her own eyes, she hugged him close and comforted him with her soft, soothing voice. For me, the scene was so intimate, I like the biological mother, had to excuse myself. I left them to be family one with another.

Pietà by Michelangelo

Mary, we might say, is both Jesus’ biological and foster mom. Biological because she gave birth to him. Foster because she knew that ultimately he came from someone else and belonged to everyone through love. Mary is also remembered as birthing the Church, and through holy baptism we become adopted children of God.

“God destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will…”

~Ephesians 1:5

As we make our way through these last fews days of Advent, meditate on the love your Heavenly Father has for you. Ponder, also, the great mystery of the Church, and how through it we meet Jesus who loves us like a Mother.

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