Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named Lucky. Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had weekend visitors at their home, they would warn them not to leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would turn up missing. Mary & Jim would then go to Lucky's toy box in the basement; there they would find the missing treasure amid all the dog's toys. Lucky stashed everything he liked in that toy box.

It soon happened that Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was convinced the cancer would kill her. But fearful as she was, she scheduled a double mastectomy. The day before her surgery, she cuddled with Lucky and was struck by the thought of what will happen to Lucky when she dies? Although the dog liked Jim, Lucky was Mary's dog through and through. If I die, Mary thought, Lucky will feel abandoned. He wont understand that I didn't want to leave him. That thought made her even sadder.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated, and Mary was in intensive care for a lengthy time. Jim took Lucky for evening walks, but the poor dog remained listless, sad-eyed and miserable.

Finally the day arrived for Jim to bring Mary home. When she arrived, she was too exhausted to take the steps up to the bedroom; so Jim made her comfortable on the living-room couch and let her nap. Lucky stood watching her from a distance but didn't come when Mary called him. That made her sad, but she soon dozed off. Later, upon awakening, she knew something was wrong. She couldn't move her head, and her entire body felt hot and heavy. She could scarcely breathe! But her panic soon turned to laughter when Mary realized her problem: she was covered, literally blanketed, with every single toy Lucky had in his box. While she had been dozing, Lucky made trip after trip to the basement, bringing her all his toys one at a time. He literally had covered her with love.

Mary quickly forgot about dying, Instead, she and Lucky began living again, taking longer and longer walks each day. It's now been many years now since her surgery, and Mary remains cancer free. As for Lucky, he still steals stuff and stashes it away, but Mary remains his greatest treasure.

What's the connection between this story and today's Sunday Gospel ? Well, in today's Gospel, the Jesus of history makes a direct personal appeal to Simon and his fellow fishermen. Jesus is physically present, speaking to them, personally inviting them to follow him. They watch him, they listen to him, they talk with him. That's no longer possible. That flesh-and-blood Jesus of history is no longer here with us; he died, arose and ascended. But remember what Jesus said to doubting Thomas: "You believe because you have seen. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believe!" Jesus is inviting us to believe him, to follow him, to become people of wonder and amazement, of thanksgiving and compassionate love. His invitations now come to us through the blazing colors of the setting sun, or a majestic mountain pine, or the painful pleadings of someone in need, or the comforting words of a lover, or the challenging words of a preacher, or the unconditional love of a dog named Lucky. For all creation mirrors the glory of God and the invitation of Jesus. So with bowed heads, we pray:

"For flowers that bloom about our feet, For tender grass so fresh and neat, For song of bird and hum of bee, For all things fair we hear or see: Giver of all, we thank thee!" Amen!

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