In today’s Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples,
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.”
But despite this message, questions and doubts swirl around us, divide us further. How can I find the humility to love that guy who is trying to build a wall between America and people who need our help? Where am I supposed to just conjure up love and patience for a woman who believes abortion is not murder? How in the world can I love, truly love, my spouse who voted opposite of me, and cannot understand why this hurts me?
It took me years and years until I came to place in my spiritual life where I truly began to have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Solemnity of the the Most Holy Trinity is a reminder that each person of the Trinity desires to be in relationship with each of us.
Love is shown more in deed than in word and so if God is love, maybe our actions can proclaim the mighty deeds of God and speak more to who God is than words can say. And maybe that’s the gift of the Holy Spirit, that peace that Jesus shares with the disciples in today’s Gospel. He breathes the Holy Spirit on them and calls them to actively forgive and thus bring peace.
rust me, though, it has not always been this clear-cut for me. I have grown in my understanding of God’s love for me a lot over the past few years, particularly through my daughter and the years leading up to her birth.
In the fall of 2015, I was experiencing some life transitions. I had recently started a new job and was searching for something to do with myself since I had some free time and felt there was a void in my life.
My boss finally asked me, "Are you happy?" and for the first time in my life, literally, I could not speak due to a loss for words. Was I happy?
Am I even useful? I mean in a real way – am I being a servant? Should I have done more? How come so many people my age look like they are out there really doing God’s work here on earth? How come everyone else seems to have figured out their vocation?
God called me to live this life--not any other one. To suffer through parts of it so I could discover love and joy in ways I hadn’t known possible before. To be in this lifelong process of being and becoming, of knowing my depths and limits, my capabilities and flaws, is to be fully human and fully alive. To be fully alive means to accept both my "human condition--which includes anxiety, suffering and death, limits and loss, pain and panic" (Rea McDonnell) as much as that sucks and to depend on God and trust in those around us to lift us up.
Bringing people to Jesus is hard. I know many people who are very comfortable believing that there is some sort of vague god, spirit, or energy that is beyond any human’s comprehension. But when it comes to helping someone transition from a vague god to a personal God it is so difficult. Why?
Lent is an easy connection to make; I suffer some penance for 40 days as part of the process of dying to myself while at the same time remembering Christ’s time of preparation in the desert. Easter is not as clear to me. What do I need to do to have new life?
I imagine the disciples on the road to Emmaus were feeling this and so much more remembering their friend Jesus. They even say later to Jesus that “we were hoping that he would be the one.”
When I experience community in a more personal sense, it means belonging: feeling fully alive through the love of those around me.
There were so many things that I wanted to do, to change or to achieve in my spiritual life in order to be ready to rejoice today. I am going to be completely honest and share with you that I pretty much failed at every single one of those things that I set out to do. As I sat to reflect on Good Friday, I was pretty down on myself about how miserably I had failed and there was a certain distress I felt as Easter began to draw close (which is pretty messed up).
Most people in my life made me feel silly for wanting to pursue a career in the arts… telling me that it was impractical, too hard, or full of disappointment.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the symptoms that I was experiencing were a result of my anxiety. It would start with a feeling of nervousness, and then I would feel as though the walls were coming in on me. My heart would start racing, nausea set in, and the recurring thought running through my head was “I have got to get out of here”.
I have heard the Passion of the Lord more than a dozen times over my life. This year, I really sat with Matthew’s words and found two phrases Jesus uses that stood out to me.
I trust in God and know that with Him all things are possible. Recently, I needed to feel hope and trust in order to achieve a goal, a goal I wasn't sure was possible.
Today’s Gospel story is high drama. Despite knowing his friend Lazarus is ill, Jesus stays where he is for two more days, during which time Lazarus dies. Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus, blame him for their brother’s death. Martha hints that she knows Jesus could do something to change it. He insists on seeing the tomb and breaks down in tears. And then Jesus works a huge, public miracle.
See the call to holiness is one that we all share and one that Jesus invites us to. It is not a requirement for the believer, but an invitation into relationship with the one who makes us whole.
He casually mentioned, “well you’re done growing, so…” he continued on with some boring health jargon, but my mind was fixated on that first part—I’m done growing?
As I was driving home a few weeks ago, I encountered a common sight on the exit ramp of the freeway – a homeless person with a sign: “Homeless. Please help. God Bless You.”
At the end of the day, after my feet hurt, my brain aches, and my heart feels heavy, I hope that even the tiniest thing I did that day will help these families get a little closer to God’s plan for them.
With all the political and moral turmoil roiling about in America and the world today, trusting man, or ourselves, to solve our problems is tempting. We think, “well I know I’m supposed to trust God to solve our problems at his own speed, but we need answers now. We need peace now. We need love now. So I need to act now.”
I started a positivity journal. Each night before bed, I would reflect on the day and write down one thing, person, or activity that I was thankful for that day. This allowed me to end each day on a positive note and remind me that there’s more to life than this crazy PT school life.
And so the same goes for all of you: what your greatest doubts and uncertainties? How can you learn from the Samaritan woman to cast aside your feeling of being unworthy to be more open to sharing the fullness of yourself and God's love with others?
Disassociating the way I look from my health has brought me so much peace. I have been able to focus on the quality of my diet, as opposed to obsessing over the quantity of food I am eating.
Sometimes we are asked to do difficult things. Other times we don’t fully understand the story as it unfolds around us, and all we can do is trust the word of God. It can feel uncertain, lonely, and even confusing at times. But the unknown places always bring us to a final destination, a completion of what God started.
I often find that I can be my biggest critic. It is easy to get down on myself when I make mistakes. I believe most people feel this way at times, I know I feel it when I continue to make the same mistakes over and over. It’s much easier to remember mistakes, flaws and failures.
I put my daughter in her “pack and play,” turn on her favorite show, and keep an eye on her all while I run. I admit, I sometimes feel guilty for choosing to have some personal time.