Last year at this time, we looked forward to this year imagining that the pandemic would be over and life would return to some semblance of normalcy. However, we are all, once again, entering into the fall with sketchy plans and wondering how this is all going to play out. Educators are feverishly working to put in place good experiences for their students. Parents are searching to find solutions for too many problems, whether working remotely or dealing with the uncertainty of their children’s safety in returning to classroom learning. Everyone is anxious about masks, vaccinations, the delta variant and its spread in the weeks ahead. Yes, this continues to be a stressful and unpredictable autumn.
Is there a place to go to find relief? Is there a formula that makes dealing with all of the ambiguities and challenges possible? I think there is. It begins with an examination of our expectations: why what we think is important really is important. It continues with carefully reviewing what truly matters the most and why it does.
This process means locating our lives and that of our families and friends, in a bigger picture that moves outside of the box of our usual customs and familiarities and perhaps our comfort zones. For example, this morning a young dad, in
responding to my question about how his family is doing, replied a lot was very uncertain and worrisome. However, he had a job and so they are blessed. The young mother and father then explained how grateful they are that their three
beautiful children are healthy and happy and that the Sunday morning is beautiful.
I believe that one of the most potent resources we have to respond to this terribly hard time is gratitude. That may seem a paradox and I guess it sort of is one. Nonetheless, gratitude flows from a wisdom that recognizes that God is active and present constantly and is always close at hand. “Count your Blessings” is not a simplistic piece of advice from of old. It is an enduring piece of wisdom.
Often, to be implemented, it requires placing our moments in a context bigger than our private expectations and thus
recognizing God’s fingerprints on everything. For myself, such an awareness causes me to utter, “thank you!”
Pope Francis writes: “Life is often a desert, it is difficult to walk, but if we trust in God, it can become beautiful and wide as a highway. Never lose hope; continue to believe, always, in spite of everything. Hope opens new horizons, making us capable of dreaming what is not even imaginable.”
Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 4/5, 2021
St. James teaches that those who are perceived to be poor in the eyes of society are the ones who have been chosen to inherit the Kingdom of God. Indeed, we are saved because of our poverty and redeemed out of our need, not because of our material wealth or achievements that the world finds praiseworthy. St. James also suggests that we are stewards of others, especially the poor and it is how we respond to the poor and needy that will define our relationship with the Lord. Can you identify the poverty, whether spiritual or material, that is in your own life? How can that “poverty” be redeemed? As stewards of others, how do we respond to the poverty that exists right in our own parish.