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Suddenly I’m the patient. We all thought it was arthritis. Now we know its multiple myeloma, although it is still to be determined what sort and how advanced the disease has traveled. My wife Pat first mouthed the word “cancer” to the doctor. He immediately confirmed Pat’s diagnosis with visible relief. I felt nothing. Indeed I was very puzzled by my own reaction. It was as if I was having a discussion with a young, very bright doctor about a disease other people get. It was only later in the day, when talking to my priest son that I realized I was crying.

I am assured that while there is no cure, there are very effective treatments that will keep me alive and kicking for many years. I feel a little guilty about that. I’ve seen so many parishioners through cancer deaths. Now I get the taste, but in all probability, not the result.

I know that the Trinity has me in God’s love. That is an extraordinarily consoling and strengthening fact. It is nothing that I deserve at all. Quite the reverse. That’s the wonder. Even though I am physically as weak as a kitten, I’m strengthened by the out pouring of love from God, through my wife, children, friends and colleagues.

I am more deeply convinced than ever that we have been incorporated into the church by baptism, “for the forgiveness of sins” in order that we may be changed and grow into Christ’s stature together. Baptism and the covenant are not sentimental ways for us to discover ourselves, or rather they bring us to the discovery that without God’s forgiveness and extraordinary love, we are nothing much at all and have nothing much to say or give. The church isn’t merely a self-help organization for people with a Cause, liberal or conservative. It is the New Jerusalem which is and which is to come.

So I look forward now to what God has in store for me to do, strengthened immeasurably by the love and prayers of so many people. Ora pro nobis.