I am admittedly tired. We all are, right? The pandemic, more shootings and more death. More hate. More ‘Whiteous’ indignation and lack of care for those teeming at our border. More of our inability – or lack of willingness – to curb our gun access and find mental health solutions, even as so many die. More false-flag rhetoric about the 2nd Amendment (I have news for you… no one wants your guns, we just want less access to those who shouldn’t have them, and we don’t believe you need a semiautomatic made for combat with an effective rate of fire of 45 rounds per minute (You DON’T!) so save your posts). More of everything awful and hateful and spiteful is all we see. More non-acceptance and more threats and less love. I mean, the world is chaotic and meanspirited on its best day, but lately it all seems to be just a little worse. Yes, I am admittedly tired.
I am so tired, in fact, that I wasn’t sure what I could even muster to think about the fast-approaching Holy Week, let alone place my thoughts to paper for my weekly blog. Then, I remembered the words from a former parishioner at Saint Miriam who wrote to me two years ago now. She simple said, “You carried quite a few of us for 40 days and ending with a splendid celebration. Rest easy Poppa.” And in those words, God came.
Over the last year of this pandemic, I did a lot of praying. I ‘preached’ at God many times about how much I gave up and how deeply I sacrificed and how could He let this continue, let alone happen in the first place. I yelled, screamed, begged and even cajoled. Then, one day a couple of weeks ago, in my exhaustion and admitted desperation, I sat quietly in our Sanctuary, praying before the Blessed Sacrament at Adoration and I suddenly realized…nothing that I have given up, or ever done, or even lost even comes close to what God gave to me. I also know that nothing that I will ever do will ever merit one ounce of what Jesus did for me; for us.
So, I sank deeply back into the chair, looked lovingly at the Blessed Sacrament, and I asked God for one last thing, forgiveness. Forgiveness for being so arrogant as to even ask Him for anything. Forgiveness for doubting His love for me. Forgiveness for being so weak as to not believe that I am going to be okay, no matter what happens or which side of life it comes. Forgiveness for being, well, a broken and selfish me.
And now I need to add one more forgiveness request: for not being thankful for what I already have been blessed with like my family, my faith, my energy to serve others, and for this beautiful parish we have created together that loves beyond what the world says is wise. Maybe that is a reason for us all to stop the hate and division this coming Holy Week and willingly attend the Masses of the most intimate encounter we can have as Catholics with the Lord who gave us so much, even this parish.
Statistics are predicting that less than 30% of Catholics will do so. But I will come. Father Bryan will come. Brother Sean will come. Deacon Pat will come. Charlie and Maria, they will come. Those who volunteered to service will be there. And the faithful will come to find God again, too. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter who of us come or doesn’t come, what matters is that we recognize the greatest thing of all…God…God will come and wait no matter where you might be. He will come and wait for you, for me, for us to join Him.
St. Augustine once said that “Our hearts are restless ‘till they find rest in You.” From His famous encounter with that woman at the well, through our recent Holy Week and Easter Day celebrations, Jesus is always inviting us to give up the constant search for things that cannot fulfill, and to let go of our hatred and complacency of others, and to turn to the only One who truly can: Himself. God is the living water that quenches thirst. He is the true “Lord” that will never leave us. He is the One who carries us, even the most broken like me, and He wants us to turn to Him.
So that parishioner was correct in her belief that I try every year to carry the parish through Lent and into Easter. I lost that chance last year; I am determined this time. It is my job, as your pastor, to do just that, but it something mote to me personally.
Some will come, some won’t. Some will be changed and moved to a deeper place of service, and some will think the whole affair meaningless. I will try, but I know now that I won’t be alone in my effort. Jesus will be there, too.