Some things are more important than the Fourth of July.

Friday, 7/4/14

I should be calling your attention to today’s Bible readings. I should be speaking about the Fourth. But there was a coincidence yesterday that merits mention.

In the TV coverage of the Women’s semifinals at Wimbledon, Eugenie Bouchard was playing against Simona Halep, when play was suspended while a medic attended to a man in the stands who had a heart attack.

Now, Chrissie Evert was doing the commentary, and she reminded us that the two women were professionals who could put up with the interruption. As well, she said, “The man’s health is more important than a tennis game.”

I said I was bringing this into my homily because of a coincidence. On a Saturday afternoon about thirty-five years ago I was in the stands at Amelia Island when Chrissie was locked in one of her matches with Martina Navratilova. With it being late on Saturday, and my not having prepared my homily, I left my friends in their places while I slipped into my Plymouth’s back seat to work on a homily.

At first I wasn’t able to believe it when I heard a PA request, "Father Sullivan, please come to the stands." When the loud request was repeated I went to check on it, and I found that play had been interrupted because a man in the stands had a heart attack.

I spoke to the poor fellow, giving him absolution, but mostly I felt embarrassed for him. He had come from New York to join his daughter and her new husband, and he had let her dress him the right way to fit in with the tennis people. Now, he was laying there, slobbering on the concrete.

When I checked on him in the hospital a few days later, I found a very happy man. “Father, this is the best thing that ever happened to me. I have been going on year after year, worrying about business and checking my securities. But, now, suddenly, this has happened, and it has given me back my life.” 

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