Dec. 1-7, 2005
The Touch of Christmas
By Father Michael Bassano,MM/ SUN contributing writer
Father Mike Bassano Feels God’s Presence Through Ministry to AIDS Patients in Thailand
I feel the touch of God in so many ways: in silence, in the dawn of a new day, in the smell of rain, in snowflakes, music, laughter and the simple thing of life. I sense God’s presence in butterflies, flowers, trees, and the beauty of all creation. I especially love rainbows and the song of the birds. But most of all, I thank God for people who have touched my life and the presence of Jesus in my heart.
I became friends with Mudka about seven months ago when she came to Wat Prabaat Nampu temple suffering with HIV/AIDS. Her family had abandoned her and her health was gradually declining. She became blind and also unable to hear, but her only way of communicating through physical touch of the hand gave her consolation that she was not alone. Most of the nurses and volunteers, including myself, would see her each day and greet her through touching her hands which immediately brought a smiling response from her in a strong voice asking how we were and how she was feeling that day. Since I have rather hairy arms, Mudka would touch my hand and respond with a smile, “Ah, Father you have arrived and I’m happy.”
One time while I was away for a week, Mudka was wondering where I was and would ask the nurses where I had gone. When I returned, I went right over to her and grasped her hand. She immediately broke into a smile and then spoke, “Father, why did you go away without telling me?” She began to cry and I began trying to explain to her why I had to leave for a while. Mudka just kept holding on to my hand and said: “Okay, I understand but the next time you go anywhere just let me know ahead of time.” Mudka died this year but I have felt touched by God through her life and am grateful.
In the novel Siddartha by Herman Hesse, a young man named Siddartha goes in search of the meaning of life. One day as he sits by a river, a great awareness comes to him that we are all guided by this one current of the river that makes us one with everyone in the world and all of creation. He then speaks with great conviction that: “The only thing of importance to me is to be able to love the world without looking down on it, without hating it or myself and to be able to regard it and myself and all beings with love, admiration and respect.”
The celebration of Christmas is an intuitive faith awareness that God still loves the world, is still involved with us and still touching us at every moment through events and circumstances surrounding us. Our only response to this loving presence of Jesus in our hearts is to touch others and be touched with the same love that has loved us from the very beginning of the universe. May we live in wonder, respect and admiration at what we see around us as we experience the touch of God this Christmas and always.