Day 7

Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. 
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God. 
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning,
wailing or pain, for the old order has passes away.”
~ Revelation

 The excerpt presented above is taken from the Book of Revelation which is a collection of visions had by John the seer.  This particular passage in the slate of this Sunday’s readings present a Utopian environment where the human family is restored to that perfect relationship with God.  A place where there is no longer any pain, suffering or confusion.   This vision reminds me of all the moments I have sat with people in this world wracked with unimaginable anguish.  In those moments when parishioners are encountering their worst possible life experience they look to their parish priest to somehow put their story into some kind of perspective that brings them comfort and insight.  In that regard I have been a miserable failure.  Often I find myself silenced by the enormity of the other’s grief and searching desperately for something…. something to say that will remove some modicum of their sorrow.  How, I ask you, when someone is wailing in a hospital Waiting Room does one attempt to explain the complexity of the theology of suffering?    Where are those magic sound bites that loop a comforting ribbon around the box of another’s torment?  Is it possible to find spiritual perspective in a culture where people shoot children in a school or place bombs on a busy street corner?

I am, as usual, without answers to any of these questions.  However, my lived experience is that when someone is falling apart they rarely have the expectation that you are going to put them together again.  What would appear to be comforting is that you are there.  That you return the phone call or walk into the Trauma Center.  Often an onrushing of gratitude is extended when you simply listen, or hold someone’s hand or offer to voice a prayer.  Amazingly just being there would seem to offer great consolation.  I suppose you could say that about Jesus: he did not always prevent, or heal, or appease.  Nevertheless he was present in affliction, in rejection, in hunger and in sorrow.   So I must accept that I cannot remove the cross the other person is struggling with.  For now, I shall continue to consecrate the Eucharist, positively interpret the Sacred Scriptures and look into the eyes of the person in front of me.  I am here.  I am right here………that’s all I have.

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6 Responses to Day 7

  1. Pat combs says:

    What a unique idea! Glad a friend included me!

  2. Wm. "Gus" Gocella says:

    So many times in our life we find ourselves as you. We have no answers and a lot of questions. A few years ago we lost our Grand Daughter a full term birth. No warning, no medical reason, lots of broken hearts within the family, and no anwers. However, the priest who conducted the service indicated that we should ask God why! The priest suggested that someday we will know the why’s of many sorrows in life. Until that day He will hold our hands and guide us through life with hope,love and understanding. We try and be that person others need durng thier time of sorrow and grief and it helps us understand the why’s.

  3. Paul H says:

    Thanks for doing this blog Matt…I feel like you are standing in front of me talking…may God continue to use you as you are open to him being there for you as well…

  4. Joanna says:

    Your being “right here” will always be more incredible than you know. And maybe your not saying anything is all that we can really bear to hear.

  5. Deb & Louie from St. Josephs says:

    We are at this moment in Santa Fe for a spiritual conference entitled, “Intimacy; the divine ambush” — conducted by Fr. Richard Rohr and James Finley. It has been a powerful, faith-deepening experience. Your post is so eloquently written and deeply received; it melds with the message we’ve been receiving from the leaders in the conference. I continue to forward your homilies to friends and family of whom you do not even know but are guided and comforted by your message. We miss you and think of you often and look forward to be inspired by the words that comes through you from God.

  6. Pam Zweifel says:

    You made a terrible moment bearable for us. Your prayer and blessing held us in consolation. We will never forget your kindness. Thank you.

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