Saturday, April 28, 2007

Saturday in the 3rd Week of Easter
Hang in There!

Readings: Acts 9:31-42; Psalm 116:12-13, 14-15, 16-17; John 6:60-69

Do you ever have someone with a problem come to you for help or advice? Perhaps it’s a close friend or a relative, a colleague or an acquaintance. But after listening to the person, you realize that the problem is really beyond you, that there is really nothing you can do except to lend a listening ear and a supporting shoulder. And much as you wish you could do something to make the difficulty go away, you find yourself simply saying, Hang in there! I’ll pray for you. Or some other words like that. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself feeling a little embarrassed that that’s all that one has to offer. Yet, inadequate as these words may seem, isn’t it true that they are often exactly the message that one needs to hear when in trouble?

Consider the disciples in the gospel today. Jesus has been offering them a truly shocking and incomprehensible doctrine. You must eat my flesh and drink my blood. Is it any surprise that many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him? But what’s even more surprising is that Peter and the other disciples actually decide to stay. They stay not because they understand and agree with what Jesus teaches. They hang in there, even when things seems dark and confusing, only because they continue to cling to the belief that Jesus is the Holy One of God. They trust that things will somehow become clear in the future, if only they remain with Jesus in the present.

In Peter’s words and actions we see a concrete illustration of something which St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches in his Spiritual Exercises. When one is in desolation, he should strive to persevere in patience… Let him consider… that consolation will soon return… And indeed, we see the truth in such considerations in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. As we may recall from our readings earlier in the week, the early church was facing a very difficult and desolate time of persecution beginning with the martyrdom of St. Stephen. But today, we see how its fortunes are changing after the conversion of Saul. We are told that the churches… were now left in peace, building themselves up, living in the fear of the Lord, and filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit. In a way, just as Tabitha is raised from death to life, so too is the Christian community raised from a time of darkness and desolation into a period of consolation and light. The church’s perseverance under persecution, its steadfastness in a time of trial, has borne fruit in a renewed sense of the Spirit’s presence. Consolation has returned. Difficult as it was hanging in there has finally paid off.

Isn’t this why we are praying at this Mass for the grace to do what Peter does in the gospel? In the opening prayer, we asked God our Father to help us to remain true to your gift of life. And in the prayer over the gifts we will be asking for the grace to hold fast to the life you have given us. We do this because we realize the importance of perseverance, of hanging in there.

Do you know anyone who needs encouragement to hang in there today?

1 comment:

  1. Hmm... it is almost you are speaking to me? haha.

    sometimes all we want is that listening ear and that shoulder. to know that someone cares enough to want to listen and give support. that means more than anything else.