"It's all covered," the waitress serving my wife and me at a late lunch the other day in a Korean restaurant said when I asked for our check.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Your meal has been paid for," she answered.
"By whom?" I was surprised.
"It's been paid for. It's all covered."
"But by whom? I'd like to know so I can thank him and also find out why we deserved this act of kindness," I insisted.
"It's an African-American guy who was sitting across your table waiting for his take out food order. He is not here anymore," the waitress replied.
Before we left, my wife approached her to ask for more details about our unexpected benefactor.
The waitress said, "He did not give his name, but he said he does not know you and you do not know him."
That was a real puzzler for us. We did not see any guy waiting across from us while we were eating. All those waiting were women and girls glued to their cellphones. And why would anyone think of paying for the meal of people he doesn't know? Besides, I was sure we did not look like we could not afford to pay for our food.
Trying to unravel the "mystery," I later remembered that the night before, we had seen an old man who looked like a beggar standing close to the door of a buffet restaurant where we were going for dinner. The man had a full beard, with a little disheveled hair, but with a serene look. We thought he smelled of liquor, so we did not bother to give him alms, and we entered the restaurant.
After we had paid for our buffet order, we heard a couple behind us telling the cashier that she would pay for an additional dinner. It was for that old man. She had invited him to come in for dinner!
Was God telling me something? I knew, and it gave me some feeling of uneasiness, even of guilt and shame.
That was a moment of grace for me. Every Wednesday we attend the Our Lady of Perpetual Help novena and Mass. In the novena, we pray a litany that includes: "That we may be aware of God speaking to us in the events of daily life . . . " I was sure He spoke to me at that Korean restaurant that day.
But that was not all. The words of the waitress "It's all been paid for" rang in my ears. They reminded me of hymns with lyrics that Dr. Scott Hahn, a Presbyterian convert to the Catholic Church, often emphasizes in his books and lectures: "Our Lord Jesus paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay."
And the waitress words "It's all covered" reminded me of God covering us with His Blood and wiping away our sins through His sufferings and death on the cross:
"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." ( Isaiah 1:18)
"It's all covered." "It's all paid for." Is He not tired saying this to us again and again?
I am convinced that God speaks to us in the events of daily life . . . but gently, . . . in whispers, . . . in unexpected ways. It is for us to listen . . . intently, . . . with yearning, . . . to hear His voice.
And then to respond.#