Matthew 10:34-42

She was black, and I was white.

She was a woman, and I was a man.

She was twenty-five, and I was fifty-five.

I had been stopped by the head nurse. “Would you please go in and see the young woman in the next room? She is a recovering drug addict, was pregnant, and has just lost her baby.” The young woman’s gaze met mine as I entered the room. Her eyes were filled with anger. No apprehension here, just plain rage. I introduced my self as a priest from the local parish.

After a moment or so, I told her that I was very sorry about her loss. I sat with her for a few minutes, while she glared at me. Words failed me. What could I possibly say?

She was poor, and I was well off.

She was an addict, and I was not.

She worked the streets, and I had a nice office.

She was uneducated, and I had three university degrees.

She was at the bottom of the social order, and I was way up.

She was marginalized, and I represented “the system.”

She was “girl,” and I was “the man.”

She had lost her baby, and I had two healthy sons.

The gulf between us was huge. I realized that in spite of my education, training, and experience, there was nothing I could say.

The hostility in her eyes was unrelenting. Finally she rolled over and faced the wall. I left.

That afternoon, evening, night, and the next morning I thought and prayed about this young woman. I knew I must stop in and see her when I made my rounds, but I hadn’t a clue as to what to do or say.

On impulse, as I entered the hospital, I went into the gift shop and made a purchase. Then I walked up to the young woman’s room, knocked, and entered. She looked up. Less anger now and lots of apprehension. I walked over to her and said, “Here. This is for you.” She reached out, and I handed her one, long stemmed, red rose. She nodded, and I left.

A week later, I received a letter. It said, “No one ever gave me a flower before.” Jesus said, “And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Matt. l0:42. RSV)

Does a rose count?