When I was reading today’s gospel at Mass (Mt 23:1-12) I thought of Mrs Murray when I came to the last two verses: 'He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; ‘whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.’
When I was in the Boys’ Kindergarten at Stanhope Street School, Dublin, run by the Irish Sisters of Charity, from 1947 to 1951, there was a woman working there whom we knew simply as ‘Mrs Murray’. She was a cleaning-lady, probably in her 40s or 50s. But a young child has no real idea of age! She was always cheerful and smiling.
Though it never happened to me, there were occasions when boys had very embarrassing ‘accidents’ and soiled themselves. Mrs Murray always cheerfully took care of them, cleaned them up as best she could, comforted them and, as far as I can recall, took them home. I never knew anything about her family or where she lived. But I often think of her cheerful, constant presence.
Six years ago when I was based in Glasgow for a few months I went to the men’s room in one of the shopping malls. It was the cleanest I had ever seen in such a place. The janitor happened to be there and I thanked him for his work. His face lit up with joy.
In my brief homily I mentioned these two persons as the kind Jesus had in mind when he spoke the words above. And we prayed for them.
To paraphrase a well-loved entertainer, Jimmy Durante, who wasn’t ashamed of his Catholic faith, ‘Good night, Mrs Murray, wherever you are!’