In God’s Time
Dear friends on the journey,
I’m sitting with today’s gospel feeling overwhelmed by the theological depth in the story of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead, a story with a plethora of characters, emotions, dialogue, actions, and themes. We could fill hours, days and weeks discussing each one. We can focus on the obvious theme of death, new life and resurrection, or just grief and suffering. The faith of Lazarus’ sister Martha who believes Jesus is the Messiah is an entire conversation. We could spend time on this miracle being Jesus’ last and its significance to his own passion, death and resurrection. One page could not do justice to the importance of this gospel.
I did what I do every week in Gospel Hangout, namely using the prayer form Lectio Divina to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me. She pointed me right to the line about Jesus waiting for two days before traveling to Judea. On the surface, it seems a little heartless for Jesus to hear that his dearest friend Lazarus is ill and not rush to his bedside, but rather wait two days all the while knowing that travel time would delay him further. Lazarus was dead and buried for four days by the time Jesus arrived. This behavior is not like Jesus at all.
We know that Jesus is not at all cold, heartless and uncaring. Jesus is God after all so he must have had a good reason for delaying. After prayerful reflection, I wondered if God is giving me a message, a lesson that my time, our time, is not God’s time. So often, we want certain things, a particular way, right now, or at a precise time. In addition, when things do not work out the way we want, we wonder if God even cares. When our prayers seem unanswered, we wonder if God forgot our address. When suffering comes upon us, we wonder how God could let it happen.
Have you ever wondered where God was in a particular situation? Did it seem like God was absent in your suffering? I have. How could I become a mom at 17? How could I lose three grandparents in six weeks? How could my parents have cancer at the same time? Lord, please explain this to me.
Lazarus’ sister Martha exemplifies the faith with which we are to live. Faith calls us in these times to lean ever more firmly on trusting in God’s wisdom and timing. Faith challenges us to accept life’s mysteries, especially those with no answers. Faith invites us to believe that God has us in his palm, even when we do not feel it. Faith gives us hope that God just might have a better way for us, that each suffering and trial could very well be a “death” in us that opens us to a new opportunity, a new life.
I encourage you to sit with this gospel this week. Put yourself in this story and reflect on your own faith story. Is it firm or needs some attention? What needs to die in you?
What might God be doing in seemingly unanswered prayers? What healing do you want from Jesus? Imagine what God has cooking for you in his time.
Linda Madden Hapgood
1932 - 2023
Saturday, June 17
Padre Serra Parish
Monday, June 19
1936 - 2023
Saturday, April 22
Changed by Grace
Dear Faith Family,
Can you imagine being so impacted by grace, that others won’t believe it?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a blind man. Obviously, since we are so versed in the life of Christ, that is no surprise to us. We know and believe of Jesus’ miracles, so we don’t doubt it. We also have people and a parish that supports our belief in Jesus Christ.
Some of the formerly blind man’s neighbors though, who have seen that the man was healed from blindness, still could not believe Jesus was God. Even with the evidence being so striking.
When asked about who healed him, the man not only explained who did it, but also explained how it was done. He also explained who Jesus is. What was the response of some of the neighbors? Disbelief and admonishment of Jesus Christ. Not only that, some of the neighbors discredited his whole story.
We have been changed by grace. We were once blind, like the blind man was. If we were asked, do we have the courage to attribute our goodness to Jesus Christ, knowing that some people will still deny the obvious evidence of grace?
This Lent, are we able to reflect on the miracles of our lives, in light of the Resurrection? The man who was once blind was so obviously impacted by Jesus, do we believe we have been impacted in a similar way? We live in an era where self help and self reflection is on the forefront (justifiably), how many times have used that time to reflect on the tiny miracles of our lives. If we were to reflect on these miracles, how many of us are able to share them and attribute it to our Lord?
The truth is, some people won’t believe us when we attribute the goodness of our lives to Jesus. Are we prepared to share that same testimony with those who don’t believe? Are we prepared to be disciples in the face of rejection?
I ask this question, knowing that discipleship is in the forefront of our culture at Padre Serra.
I ask this question, knowing confidently that you have already said yes.
Youth and Young Adult Minister
If you can find a better offer ...
Near the end of this weekend’s gospel account of the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus at Jacob’s well, John the evangelist writes: “Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman ...”
This passage strikes me as encouraging. Let me try to explain. For a long time, and with greater intensity since the election of Pope Francis, we have been hearing that the Church’s mission — our mission! — is to evangelize. In other words, we are all called, required, commanded to share with others the Good News of Jesus Christ. No one is exempt. It’s not just the job of Pope Francis, nor of the bishops, nor the clergy, nor lay people like me employed by the Church. We are all expected to do this; in fact, it has to be done for the Church to continue.
I don’t know about you, but I find that a little intimidating. Knowing my faults and weaknesses so well, I question how I can possibly be an effective evangelizer. I guess the reason I find the passage about the Samaritan woman’s success in leading people to belief in Jesus encouraging is because, let’s face it – she had her issues. Never mind her domestic history (Jesus points out that she’s had five husbands – and Fr. Patrick has explained to us that it’s entirely possible she was quite innocent). She also seems a bit obtuse. When Jesus offers her living water she responds with a protest about his lack of a bucket. When he repeats his offer, she again narrows the focus to plain old H2O: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
It was only then that Jesus broached the subject of her personal history and interestingly it was that—sharing her experience of Jesus in her own brokenness—that brought her community to him: “‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?’ Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified ‘He told me everything I have done.’”
So let’s all take courage. If the Lord can use the Samaritan woman, the Lord can use us. Let’s share our experiences of Jesus. They may be hidden where we least expect—in the most broken parts of our lives. And let’s not worry about looking foolish. Moses in the first reading might have looked foolish striking a rock with a stick. But it was the Lord who caused water to flow from it for the people to drink. He will bless our good faith yet imperfect efforts to trust him too, we can be assured.
Fr. Eugene Walsh, SS put it this way: “Jesus promises you two things: Your life has meaning and you’re going to live forever. If you can find a better offer, take it.”
Director of Liturgy & Music
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