But a few days before, a huge storm intervened and a wall partly collapsed. He was very upset. What could he do? He visited a second-hand shop and saw a large decorated table cloth for sale. He bought it and found it provided just the right size temporary cover for the gash in the wall.
As he was locking up on Christmas night it was raining and he saw a woman, a stranger, trying to shelter near the church. He invited her in to wait while the rain eased. She entered and sat down and looked around.
Then she saw the cloth. She asked to look at it more closely. Did it have the initials MDG stitched into a corner? It did. She told the priest this was the cloth she made for her husband in pre-war Austria and that it had disappeared with everything else â€“ including her husband â€“ when the Nazis invaded. The rain got heavier and the priest offered to drive her home.
On New Yearâ€™s Day there was Mass in the church and after it was over the priest saw a man sitting weeping silently. He went up to him and asked what was the matter?
The man pointed to the cloth and said that years ago before he left Europe he had been married and his wife had made just such a cloth for him but she had disappeared in the war. The priest remembered where he had driven the woman and made a second journey there, this time with the man.
There is an Irish proverb that goes; â€˜There was never a door shut but there was another opened.â€™ Something that upsets us can also be something that will soon delight us. When Jesus went deeper into the gift of life that God is offering and spoke of the â€œbread of lifeâ€ as his body, the disciples got upset, â€œThis is intolerable language.
How could anyone accept it?â€ they said and then they left him. Jesus turned to the twelve and asked them, â€œWhat about you, do you want to go away too?â€ They must have felt devastated, seeing everyone disappear. They too must have been upset and tempted to follow them.
But they found within themselves some hidden depth which said, â€˜I donâ€™t understand but I am not giving up now.â€™ They were upset, but they were prepared to wait for the clouds to lift. Deep down, they knew that something would happen soon. What it would be, they had no idea. When the time came for them to realise, they were â€œfilled with joyâ€ (John 20:20).
A priest fixed up a run-down church in New York and looked forward to welcoming the members for the celebration of Christmas.