I don’t know why, but this past year has been one of many trials and tragedies around the world and close to home. It would be a much different blog post if I were writing about these events that hit me personally but I am writing as a bystander looking on.
Many friends and acquaintances have experienced unimaginable grief and loss this year, and I have found myself lost and scrambling and wanting to fix their broken hearts while mine is breaking for them. It is a very difficult spot to be in when you feel helpless, when you aren’t sure of what the right actions to take are or know the right words to say. I know what I would want, I would probably want to bury myself away and not deal with anyone, or hear the same old platitudes, but is that what my loved one needs? How do you help ease some of the burden, knowing you could not possibly remove their pain, as much as you would desperately like to?
This Easter season has been one of much reflection for me, not about Jesus and his pain and suffering but more on the bystanders, those who watched and could do nothing, feeling helpless. On the road, in front of the cross, watching on, heartbroken, that is where I have been. I found myself focused on John. John who had followed Jesus, heard his teachings, and now was tasked by Jesus himself to look out for his mother. What would those next few days, months, years have been like for him? Caring for a mother who had just witnessed the horrific death of her son. Had he questioned the purpose of this suffering? Had he doubted Jesus’ promise that there was a plan, a reason for his death after I am sure sleepless nights hearing and watching Mary grieve? How could this possibly have been in God’s plan?
As I think of John, as I witness the pain of those that I love, all I can think is that he said yes to walk with Mary in her suffering. He could not have understood fully why any of this happened, why his best friend died, why a wonderful woman had to go through the rest of her life without her son. God does not need to give us answers, but He can, if we ask, give us strength to do what is necessary to love without ceasing, to sit in awkward silence when words do not suffice, be given the right words when it is time to speak, and to drop everything to just be there.
When asked what I could do, these have been the top five things people have said soothed them when going through their own grief.
1: Food. I am sure that Mary was in no position to cook or think about meals, so I can only imagine John having to feed her in those times where she could finally bring herself to eat.
2: The right words. People mean well when saying things like, God has a plan, God had a reason, just trust in God; however, we don’t know how they are feeling about God right now, in their time of sorrow, so this may not be what they want to hear. Making God the reason for their pain, especially when dealing with a tragic sudden death, miscarriage or any loss, puts the blame on Him instead of God being a source of comfort. Saying you will be praying; however, is acknowledging that God is still present in the situation, and shows them they are not alone through this. Which brings me to point 3.
3: PRAY! If you say you are praying for someone, do it. Name them in your prayer. Even through my doubts and anger towards God during these times, I trust that the prayers I offer up for those I love do make a difference in some small way.
4: Keeping in touch long after. I know for myself my tendency is to give people space, to not intrude, but this can easily turn into weeks, and months. Long after the flowers have died, food has run out, visits and calls have stopped, people have said the grief becomes stronger. As life tries to get back to normal it becomes very evident that nothing will ever be normal. Their loved one is gone, and everyone has disappeared leaving them truly feeling alone. Here is where a text, a mass card, an invitation of any kind would be a reminder that they are not forgotten, that they are still cared for.
5: Be there how they need you to be, and let them grieve how they need to grieve. Everyone grieves differently. So just ask how you can help and ask more than once, because their needs change.
My newfound love and respect for John has been a revelation to me. It is only as we grow older that we are placed into John’s position more and more. My hope is that I can care for those I love the way I imagine John did, and that those who are suffering may feel the comfort Mary may have felt in discovering she was not alone in her grief.
“Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, Jesus himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.”
When I think about death two different reactions can occur. One reaction is excitement at the thought of meeting Jesus and being with Him forever. The second is a twinge of fear, uncertainty and doubt. Unfortunately, the latter generally rears its head more than the former.
There are times I fear the manner in which I could die. I have a very active imagination so it is not hard for me to imagine the worst in any given situation. It takes effort once a potential scene has played out in my head to then turn to God in surrender and trust. “Your will be done. May You be glorified".
Most of us enjoy a sense of control, though in reality we have control over very little in our lifetime, as well as at the conclusion of it. Maybe this is why suicide and assisted suicide are so appealing to some people. The thought of having control over the timing and manner in which one dies somewhat satisfies that particular fear of something being outside of one’s control. I cannot imagine what it would be like to reach the point of desiring to take the life God has given me into my own hands to end it, and I hope that I never reach it. The thought of death brings with it an uncertainty with regard to time, place and what it will ultimately be like. Even going about the suicide route, we still truly do not know for sure what it will be like, and that can be unnerving.
Finally, there is doubt. Once in a while I wonder if what I have been taught about death, God, heaven, hell, purgatory, etc. are really true. What if I am living an illusion? It is then that I have something to fear, because the alternative is a life without purpose and hope.
At this point it is vital to call to mind, not only what I have been taught, but also what I have seen and experienced to be true, as well as what God has revealed to others (the saints, people present in my life, etc). In my daily life God has proven that He is not dead. He provides me with strength, peace, guidance, and wisdom. He has proven His presence and existence with miracles both big and small, such as saving my life on a number of occasions. He has spoken directly to my heart and through the Scriptures. He has provided words of wisdom and advice when I needed them the most, and in any “impossible” situation He has proven the words, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). I would be a fool after all I have witnessed in my own seemingly insignificant life to turn my back on what I have seen and know, to say, “There is no God.”
His own name is Emmanuel, “God with us.” He is truly with us. He promised that He will be with us ALWAYS (Matthew 28:20), and He does not lie. When I remember these things and all that He has proven of His love and presence throughout history, and I allow these things to overtake my heart and mind, it is then I am filled with peace and joy at the thought of being with God, the one who formed me and loves me more than I could ever comprehend. I still do not know how or when the day of my death will arrive, but I hope that when that time comes, I will remember that He is with me. If He is with me, I have nothing to fear, even death.
This very popular quote from St. Teresa of Calcutta usually elicits one of two responses from me. Depending on the state of my prayer life, and the inflation level of my ego, I usually react one of two ways to this gem.
THAT'S A LITTLE HARSH!
I'm helping out with this faith group, I'm a lector at mass, I'm a Eucharistic minister and I go to Mass every Sunday.
I pray... I'm a Knight of Columbus (even though I haven't been to a meeting in a while)... I am doing all the things!!!! How dare you question my prayerful prowess?
More often than not, my reaction is inspired by a bruised ego. I get embarrassed because I know better. I do have to be honest, however: a lot of the things that I am doing have a Catholic flavor to them. Sometimes I feel like this:
I have to remember, however, that all the things I do for the Church, doesn't equate to building a relationship with the person who founded it. In fact, sometimes it can detract from it. Here's an example from my life.
Prayer = Work; The Slippery Slope
A few years back I was working in full time youth ministry for my local parish. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I had an office in the parish. The chapel was right down the hall from me! How amazing! I could see Jesus anytime I wanted! Coming into the role, I was so filled with zeal and fire. I was going to change the world! I was going to introduce these students to Christ! I spent countless hours at the schools building relationships, in my office planning, and at the church leading youth nights.
At the beginning, my prayer life was great. I would go into the chapel in the morning, go to morning Mass, and offer my day to God. So Holy! As the year got going, however, I got busier and busier. People's expectations of me increased. My plate got more and more full. What were the first two things to fall? My prayer life and my physical activity (Isn't it funny how the two most important things are always the first to go?).
I ended up getting so busy that I burned out. The burn out was a result from a number of things, but my lack of prayer definitely had something to do with it. Additionally, it got to the point where I would equate prayer with my job. My job burned me out (because of my lack of balance) and made me tired. Prayer just reminded me of that. Thus, I avoided it. NOT GOOD!
After getting things under control in my life, I was able to achieve balance. As a result, my outlook on prayer changed. It was not work anymore. It was oxygen to my soul. Things turned around, but I can't forget how I slid down that slippery slope. I was too busy to pray. Therefore, I was too busy. Plain and simple.
Take Some Time
No matter what we do, it's easy to let life pile up and push prayer out. Whether we're working for the Church or in a normal 9 - 5 job, it is very important to take some time. When we're busy, our minds automatically think about what we can drop or cut from our schedule to lighten the load. Interestingly, our Lord offers some different advice:
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest"
- Matthew 11: 28
Take some time today, no matter how busy you are, and spend it with the Lord. Give your burdens to Him. He won't disappoint. If you have trouble making time, just remember these convicting words of St. Teresa of Calcutta:
"If you're too busy to pray... You're too busy"
This post was originally written on Tuesday, September 13, 2016
St. John Chrysostom, pray for us.
I began prayer time today by listening to Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily on this weekend’s Gospel (Luke 15:1-32), which reflects on the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. It is such a powerful insight on three different ways of being lost, as well as three different ways of being found by God. If you have not listened to this homily already I would encourage you to do so (see link below). (A Coin, A Sheep, A Son, 2016)
He tells us that allowing yourself to be found by God is an important way to approach prayer and one which we tend to forget. I include myself in this when I say that we constantly fall into the trap of thinking that we are the ones in search for God, and yes we “search” for God to a lesser extent, but truly, as these three parables demonstrate, it is God who searches almost irrationally to find even those counted among the least. Even in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, it is the father (God) who RUNS TO MEET the Son, even when he is still far off. It is God who diligently seeks, finds and rejoices to the fullest when we have been found.
I often think back to how my little girl responds to certain situations to try and get a visual on what the interaction between God and I should be like. He has given me a living example of what “childlikeness” is and I hope to learn as much as I can from her while she is still little! This morning gave me a beautiful example of what seeking, finding and allowing yourself to be found looks like. My little girl (15 months old) was running around the living room, and stopping every few steps to “hide,” and I was crawling around the floor “finding” her. There was a look of sheer joy on her face as I would get closer and closer and she would giggle uncontrollably. There were times that she would keep running a little farther at these moments, but sometimes she just stood there, giggling and waiting to be caught…to be found. It was during these moments she would giggle even more, which in turn made my heart overflow with joy.
God uses even the smallest person to teach us big lessons. I think He allowed me to experience this moment today to give me a glimpse at His joy in finding me, and the joy that is available to me when I allow myself to be found. When we allow ourselves to be found, to just BE with our Father, there is much rejoicing in heaven and in our hearts too. As Bishop Barron says in his homily, “God is the one that searches for us…our quest [for God] is but a pale echo, a vague reflection of God’s passionate, over-the-top, unrelenting quest for us…I think your whole spiritual life will change once that idea really gets into your heart.”
May you allow yourself to be found.
Barron, Bishop Robert. “Homily: A Coin, A Sheep, A Son.” Word on Fire, Bishop Barron’s Podcast, 14:18. http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/homily/a-coin-a-sheep-a-son/5264/ (accessed September 13, 2016).
You may or may not know, but today (August 6) is Katie and my 5th wedding anniversary.
Now, before you start tossin' the "5 YEARS - THAT'S IT?" and "You just wait until you're married 30 years"... I will kindly ask you to refrain from that because ALL WE'VE BEEN MARRIED FOR IS 5 YEARS! The length of time is out of our control, so relax.
I am pretty big on self-reflection, and I found it fitting to do so on our 5th anniversary of entering into wedded bliss. Here is a list of things I have learned in the last 5 years:
1. It's not all about me.
As much as I would like it to be... it's not. From the moment we exchanged our vows up until now, I have been in a constant state of growth and challenge to focus outward. My ego doesn't really appreciate it, but who cares. I like to think that the days of "do you not know who I am?!?!" and "that's not the way I would do it" are behind me, but alas... this is not the case. But I am trying!
2. My wife is a SAINT!
Over the past 5 years of marriage, the following things have happened:
This is quite the list. My crap alone would be enough for me to go crazy. But, she bears it, faces it with class, and crushes it! She bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things... Sound familiar? Yeah, she's that loving.
3. Mutual Faith is Important!
I know you're probably thinking "well DUH!"... but sometimes it doesn't happen. I am so blessed to have a spouse that I can share my faith with.
On the other hand, one can take this for granted even within a Catholic marriage. I must admit, there have been times when I was afraid to take the lead and be the 'Priest of my Domestic Church'. But, again, it was an ego thing (See #1). Along with praying together, it is very important for one to continue working on one's own individual faith. If not, jealousy can set in. I remember one time when I wasn't feeling super close to God and I assumed that Katie wasn't either. I went so far as to sit her down and ask her how she was doing in her faith. I found out very quickly that I was the one with the problem! (See #1). Although I was so adamant about us having great individual relationships with God before we entered into a relationship and then marriage, after marriage you STILL HAVE TO DO IT!
4. Getting married doesn't change anything.
You are still the same broken, sinful, forgetful, human being you were before you were married. Marriage isn't some magical switch that God flips as soon as you put that ring on that makes you perfect. I romanticized marriage. I quickly found out that all of the crap and baggage I was dealing with before marriage was right there with me on that altar. The biggest thing was that now I was bringing all that into a marriage with someone who also had some stuff to deal with. We all do! We had / have to work on this together for the good of our marriage. Just like when you remove an ice cube from a glass of ice water and another one quickly floats to the top, I am constantly finding new things I need to deal with. This leads nicely into my next point...
5. There's Beauty in Brokenness
A while back, I wrote a blog post called Beauty in Brokenness. In it I shared how when you finally accept the fact that you are broken, you can experience such freedom because you don't have to spend so much time and energy trying to be perfect. You don't have to try and convince the world you're perfect. You don't have to convince God you're perfect. Marriage is the arena in which this skill gets perfected. As a couple wise men told me once, marriage is your path to sainthood. Sainthood communicates sanctity. Sanctity comes through purification, prayer, and sacrifice. The road is not easy, but it the married person's path to sainthood. Accepting your brokenness before God and your spouse is another step on that path.
6. NFP DOES WORK!
We were married on August 6, 2011. Our first child was born on November 26, 2015. Many times throughout the first four years of our marriage, the question was raised (both to our faces and behind our backs) whether we were using birth control or contraception. There were many who speculated we were. We are living proof that if you follow the rules, NFP works. Now, if you must know, we use the Billings Method.
Oh get over it...
I love you Katie with all of my heart. Thank you for inspiring me to become the best version of myself every day.
I’ve considered myself a pilgrim since I was 19. Why? Because in 2002 I went on my first pilgrimage to Toronto for WYD.
World Youth Day is a massive gathering of young people who desperately are searching for God and come to encounter him and celebrate with the Pope. My life has forever been changed because of these gatherings, and countless others have been as well.
I have followed that first trip by preparing for and going on mission or a pilgrimage of some sort for the last 14 years:
2002 - WYD in Toronto
2005 - WYD in Cologne, Germany
2006 - Mission in Peru
2008 - WYD in Sydney, Australia
2011 - WYD in Madrid, Spain
2013- WYD in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Mission in Maceio, Brazil
Brothers and sisters, we are pilgrims every day of our lives if we admit our brokenness and need for a healer. The question is simple. Can I be real, honest, and vulnerable to those I trust to seek help, forgiveness, healing and consolation? Will I simply allow God permission to work in my confusion, hurt, pain, and indifference?
Recently, the answer is I haven’t. It is just that simple. But, now upon reflection, I see God has taught me at least fourteen lessons for these 14 years:
I do not need to be away to be a pilgrim, as much as my heart yearns to be. A pilgrim is on a holy journey, seeking answers to questions they often don’t even know to ask. A pilgrim is someone who through challenges is cracked open to grace to nourish one's soul. A pilgrim is someone not at their destination, but intentionally drawing closer day by day.
What lesson is God teaching you on your journey this day?
- Colm Leyne
Here is a list of 5 things that I forget on a regular basis.
I am sharing them with you in case you are ever in the same boat.
I am Loved.... UNCONDITIONALLY
No matter who I am, what I do, or where I am on my journey, I am unconditionally loved by God. Remember the story of the Prodigal Son? I have to remember that God the Father will always welcome me back - no matter where I've been. I also have to remember that this is not a license to sin. However, it's nice to know that if I fall back, He will be there to catch me.
I am free to be me! It's who I was created to be!
I tend to compare myself to others. I also tend to worry about what people think of me or if what I am doing is living up to other people's image of me. I have to regularly remind myself that it is OK to be me! I was created this way. The gifts I have been given were given to me with purpose and intention by God. It is perfectly ok for me to use them.
I don't need to be so hard on myself.
If I fail, it's OK! The most important thing is what I learn from it. If I make a mistake in my career, my relationships, or education, I can't spend the rest of my life stewing about what I should have or could have done. Failure and struggle promotes growth. Many successful individuals have failed way more than they've succeeded. It is not my job to sit there and obsess about what I should have done. I need to be thinking about what I am learning and where I need to go.
I am the cause of a lot of my stress.
Most of my stress is because of my procrastination. Sometimes I put off my to-do list until the very end. I like to call it being "motivated by deadlines". However, this isn't necessarily the best thing for my mental health. Schedules and lists intimidate me, but they end up doing me more good than harm. I have to remember to embrace my organizational side and bust out the label maker and bright neon tabs.
I was chosen - John 15:16
When I am stressed, burned out, and questioning my purpose, I always have to return to this verse:
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
Never forget who you are and why you are doing what you are doing.
You were chosen! Your life has a purpose!
It is now the time of year when, no matter who you are, things are probably starting to drag a little bit. If you’re a student, you’re probably chomping at the bit to get out and enjoy summer. If you’re a teacher, you probably have a class full of students who are doing the same thing. If you’re a parent, you’re probably looking forward to vacation.
It is during this time of year when all of the things that you have allowed to pile up start feeling a bit heavier. All of the practices, music lessons, essays, presentations, track meets, and whatever else takes up space in your calendar tend to inspire regret, anxiety, and frustration.
It is also during this time of year when relationships can become tested because of all of this stress. Burnout can happen. Stress levels rise. Pressure increases. It is during this time of year that we are reminded about the truth of our entire lives:
There will be many times in our lives when everything piles up and it all seems to be too much. Our culture's attitude toward this seems to be one that prefers doing everything on our own. It is almost like we have something to prove. Does asking for help make us any less capable? Does it make us look weak? Why is it that we are so reluctant to ask for help?
Is it our pride?
Let me put it into perspective. Jesus, being God and all, probably didn't need anyone's help to do anything. However, he enlisted the help of a whole myriad of people to help him spread the Good News. He was all about collaboration. Even during his passion, he accepted help from Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross.
Even at his most broken-down, beat-up, vulnerable, humiliated moment, Jesus still accepted help from Simon. God accepted Simon's help. What's our problem then? If the King of the universe can accept help during his toughest times, why can't we? What makes us better and more capable than... God?
Last night, as I was watching Drop Dead Diva with my wife (I regret nothing), there was a scene where an Amish fellow said something to the effect of the load being lighter when everyone lifts. If you can lift it all by yourself... good for you. You'll be burnt out in no time. But, if there are people willing to help you carry your burdens, you'll be able to get more done and be healthier too! I don't get what the problem is here!
So if you're going through a tough time right now, or ever, don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Don't worry about how weak it makes you look or any of that garbage. We are called the BODY OF CHRIST for a reason. We're called to walk with each other and build one another up. We just have to be humble enough to let others live up to that calling.
Who's your Simon?
We all have it. Whether we're willing to admit it or not, we all have it. We've all been raised in different situations, faced hardships, experienced loss and suffering, and have had our share of good times along the way too. All of these experiences have come together to help form the wonderful people that we are today. These experiences help us survive and help form our consciences. These experiences also contribute to what we react to and how we react to it. They impact what we take personally and what we simply let go. Our baggage has its hand in a lot of what we do and therefore plays a big role in who we are.
I am no different. I have experienced loss of loved ones, loss of job, depression, anxieties of every sort, self-consciousness, bullying, loneliness, anger, low self-esteem, betrayal, and deep hurt. All of these things have contributed in some way or another to the person I am today - good or bad. At first, I just chalked all of these things up to experience and tried to not let them happen to me again. I didn't fully deal with them. I didn't know I had to. However, later in life, every single one of these issues has come back to the forefront, and impacted me and my relationships with others. I had to deal with them.
Now here is where I differ from a lot of people. I love going after my problems. When something comes up that I need to deal with, I like to face it head on. When I encourage people to do the same, they just say "well that is just who you are... that's not me". I was not always like this.
I have been known to have quite the large ego. I used to hate feedback of any kind, especially the negative stuff. Whenever someone would sit me down and talk to me about how something I was doing was bothering them, I was always ready with a comeback or a reason why they needed to change. Not me! Even when I was growing up, when my dad tried to talk to me about something, I would always get very defensive. This has also followed me into my adult life and I have since (as far as I know) dealt with it.
It wasn't until I started getting more and more involved in my faith, frequenting the Sacraments, and surrounding myself with people who were also striving for holiness, that I began to be OK with looking inward. I began to be OK with "going there".
I started to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation a lot more with the sinful parts of my baggage. I sought advice from my parents, close friends, and other members of the faith community. I asked for prayer a lot more. I began to be open to the blessing that our local mental health services are to our community. I began to realize and accept that I wasn't just able to "pray away" some of the more serious things I had been going through. *I completely acknowledge and accept that miracles can and do happen. God is bigger than anything I had been facing. But, I also understand that God created counsellors and mental health professionals too!
I had to face the fact that I wasn't perfect and that I needed help. This was not easy. In fact, calling the counsellor's office was one of the toughest phone calls I remember making (remember the ego?). But, I did it. And it has turned out to have been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have discovered things about myself I would have never on my own. There's something about having an outside party who can give you feedback on your situation who has no bias whatsoever.
Sure, some people claim they get the same thing out of Confession, but I have two things to say to that:
Continuing to Face it
A retired Christian counsellor friend of mine once described our lives and baggage as being similar to a glass of ice water. If you pull an ice cube out, what happens? Another one rises to the top. This is how it works with our baggage too. Every single day we are faced with situations that impact who we will be tomorrow. It is up to us to deal with these things so they don't end up impacting us and our loved ones in negative ways in the future.
Admitting We're Broken
As I mentioned above, I had a really hard time admitting I was broken. I have come to realize that once you've admitted your're broken and imperfect, you no longer have to spend so much energy trying to be someone you're not. That gets so exhausting! Life becomes so much easier when you can admit you're human and trust that God loves you anyway!
Why do we stress out so much about looking perfect for others? Why do we spend so much energy on appearing "perfect" and not letting anyone see our faults. You see, this is where Christ lives. This is where Christ wants to meet us. He want's our broken, worn out, tired hearts. He wants to break our hearts of stone and give us ones of Love. He wants to heal us. But first, we have to admit we need healing!!!
Leonard Cohen touched on the beauty of brokenness when he said that "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in". How else can the light of Christ get into our hearts if they aren't broken down, cracked, and open? In order to fully accept Christ, we have to die to ourselves and our old ways and surrender our lives to him. We have to be broken before him. How beautiful it will be when we can all tear down our walls and be broken before the Lord. Because it is within that brokenness that we will finally find rest and freedom.
The Choice is Yours
So, if you're dealing with something that is impacting your life and your relationships, I urge you to seek help. There are other people much more qualified than you to handle it!
You can either deal with it now, or make everyone around you deal with it forever. The choice is yours!
It is pretty easy these days to initiate a conversation or more accurately an argument by simply bringing up the Syrian Refugee crisis. Very quickly there are two polar opposite camps that debate, why we should or why we should not. Some will contend that it is simply the right thing to do while others, will argue about the current economic times and the need to look after home first. Add the fear of terrorism into the equation and you have a full-out brawl of ideology!
But I want to take us back to a much simpler time before I deal with any side of the above argument. It is the time of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to rest in order for the birth of Christ. There was no room! Nobody offered a room for the birth of the Christ child. Nobody opened the door to give shelter to a pregnant woman into their midst. We would all like to believe that we would open the door but the question is would we?
It might be easy for us to respond as the good Samaritan when assisting a pregnant woman but what about the homeless, the addict, the imprisoned, or the disabled? Do we provide the corporal works of mercy to all or to those that fit our bill and satisfy our need? And do we just “give” during the Christmas season because it is on our mind or do we “give” year round? I'm quite sure that the corporal works of mercy: Feed the hungry; Give drink to the thirsty; Clothe the naked; Shelter the homeless; Visit the sick; Visit the imprisoned; Bury the dead, have no time limit on them.
What would our world be like if we chose to offer mercy each and every day instead of when we feel the need? How would our world be if we gave what we had instead of out of our excess? How do we respond to the passage in Luke that says,
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)
All of us should feel a little bit of shame knowing that we haven’t helped our neighbours near or far when we could. We’ve all (including myself) cut a wide path around the beggar or the drunk. How quick we are to point fingers at others when we should really be pointing fingers at ourselves.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
We all have poor and destitute in our communities who we’ve chosen to ignore long before this wave of refugees. We’ve justified our reasons for not helping and yet now, we use those same or new poor to say we can’t open our borders to refugees. This should not be a choice on whether to welcome the Syrian refugees or to help those in our country. Instead it should be a wakeup call to simply act with mercy for all who live in our homeland and abroad! Don’t make this an either/or debate, do both!
Chris Smeaton is the Superintendent for Holy Spirit Catholic Schools located in southwest Alberta.
Article originally posted on December 30, 2015 on The Superintendent's Blog - Holy Spirit Catholic Schools