March 25, 2012

Who doesn’t enjoy a good BBQ with friends? When I was asked to a young couple’s home for a Young Adult Ministry Home Mass and BBQ I packed my Mass kit and off I went. I arrived about 6:00 pm with a hearty appetite and was greeted by about 15 young people. Then the phone rang and everything changed. I had to drive about 10 miles to a hospital where there was an emergency call.

I drove quickly, thinking that the nurse in charge of the ER, Anne, would be waiting for me. I knew her and her husband and children from the parish. When I walked in I could see paramedics at the foot of the only occupied gurney there, so I hurried and walked in. “Sorry, Fr. John, you’re too late. He’s gone.” Anne said, smiling. She had a lot of compassion, but also understood that I’d come as fast as I could. They were removing wires from an older man. I noticed that he was wearing a Brown Scapular, one of the old cloth ones. I reached and said “He’s wearing an old fashioned Scapular”. When I touched it there was a beep from a monitor, then another. The nurse, Anne, said “What did you do?” I said “Nothing!” She and another nurse jumped to work, reconnecting wires and calling for help. The Paramedics stood with their jaws dropped. The patient opened his eyes and said (in an Irish accent) “Oh, good, Father. I’ve been waiting for you. I want to go to Confession.” I nearly fell over. I’d done nothing but seen and touched his Scapular. The next thing I knew they were working on him. He didn’t get to go to Confession, but I gave him an emergency absolution as they worked. One of the Paramedics asked if I was OK and sat me in a chair.

A couple of weeks later the man came to me for Confession and told me that the doctor couldn’t figure out what happened and had to tear up the Death Certificate he’d already started to fill out. The Paramedics had come to see him in the hospital and shown him their notes. At the bottom of the page they’d written the time and place of his death and then in big bold letters had added “BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE BY GOD”.

Miracles still happen. And no, I didn’t do it. It just happened according to God’s will. Why does He intervene in some cases and not in others? I really don’t know. I haven’t figured that out yet. But I do know that God has worked miracles in my life, the most important for me not being what He did for someone else, but what He has done over and over to bring me back from sin and death, through the Sacraments into His Covenant Relationship.

That man still had to die a natural death to be raised from the dead into eternal life. The resurrection Jesus offers all of us is eternal too. And that’s what we look forward to at Easter.

Father Higgins
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Father John Higgins
Fr. Higgins was born in Indiana. His mother brought him to California when he was about three years old. They lived in South Gate, Covina, Lynwood and then in 1965 they moved to Downey. Fr. Higgins attended Downey High School for two years and graduated from there in 1967. He attended Cerritos Community College, worked in Downey, Bellflower, and Long Beach before entering the Seminary in 1974. He was ordained to the Priesthood in 1981, has served as Campus Minister and Religion Teacher at Bishop Garcia Diego High School in Santa Barbara, and worked in seven parishes before his assignment to St. Raymond Parish in 2003. He also currently serves as the Chaplain at Downey Fire Department – serving both firefighters and victims.