and whatever you do to them, you do to Him. And however you love them, you love Him. These were the words spoken during a wonderful Mass tonight commemorating World AIDS Day. Archbishop Gregory, one of the greatest speakers I've ever heard, put a different spin on Matthew 25. Just prior to Mass, folks were asked to write the names of people they knew who have died on a banner. I wrote...and wrote...and continued to write the first names of patients I'd seen over the years at Grady. As Archbishop spoke, a slideshow of faces went through my mind. The patient in a diaper, scuffling down the hallway, asking me if I'd consider marrying a skinny man with AIDS, the patient who begged me to videotape her labored, dying breaths to get kids to stop using drugs, the 27-year-old with the greatest dred locks you've ever seen, the man who cried as we said a decade of the rosary after he was told he could not be operated on and would soon die, the patient whose little girl held her hand whispering to her demented mother not to be afraid, the transsexual who just asked that his nails be painted when he met St. Peter, the girl my age who drove me crazy (written about here). I thought about my interactions with these folks. Some days, I was a good social worker, hopefully bringing some bit of help or laughter to their day. Some days I did for them what I would have done for Him. Other days, I was mediocre, stressing out over finding them a nursing home or a treatment facility or locating nexts of kin. Other days I didn't let myself see Christ in the eyes of a patient who had relapsed for the 56th time or in the face of someone demanding services that weren't available.
I don't work with HIV patients every day anymore. I miss the patients. And I really miss the folks who care for and treat the patients. I am realizing though that I do not have to work with AIDS patients to act out my faith. I hope that I can now fill in the blank "whatever you do for ___", you do for HIM. Whatever I do for my husband, I do for God. Whatever I do for my daughter, my home, my family, my neighbor across the street..." But I am really proud of the friends I know who treat the "least" of these.
**thinking especially of Tyler this World AIDS day. I knew Tyler in college and am not surprised at all that he has taken a terrible diagnosis and turned it into a way to educate and inspire so many!**