I attended a conference, heard a brilliant presentation, even breathtaking. At the break I was talking with his wife and said how good the talk had been. She agreed and she added “It comes at a price. He is so caught up in his wonderful work that the family is relatively unimportant. None of the children want to follow him in that type of work because he has let it become too demanding and they feel he has neglected us. I understand and I’m hurt for them. I love my husband and admire his work – but am hurt that we come second.” She wasn’t grumbling. She was a strong intelligent women, but she recognised family had become less important than the career, success and brilliance.
In contrast, I was on the committee of the National Conference of Priests and welcomed a famous doctor and his wife, had lunch with them and a couple of the others. I was seated opposite her. Naturally, he was being asked questions and answering so well. Quietly I said to his wife “We all know his reputation and his good work. How is someone who is so famous at home with the family?” She laughed, glanced at him (he was talking to someone) and said quietly “He is the loveliest man: wonderful husband and father and truly dedicated to his work. We love him for it. He inspires us just as he inspires colleagues and students. He takes our love with him into his work.”
Wasn’t that good. One man brilliant, the other brilliant and loving.
It’s a lesson for life. “Bring good news to the poor,” says Jesus – to people without love, care, friend, wherever they are. Wonderful charities invite us to share their work in poorer countries and we agree and support; but we must not neglect our own poor who need foodbanks, benefits, warm shelter, a smile. We love them all because they are our neighbours – and help where and when we can. We don’t neglect those nearest to us for the sake of those far away but keep everyone in mind and heart and help where we can.
We wish Messrs Putin, Xi Jinping, Biden, Johnson, showed love for enemies as well as pride in tanks, guns, bombs and missiles.
(6th February 2022)
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