All Things Work For Good

Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (A): Romans 8:28-30

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

All things work for good.

Really?

To many people today, that statement, taken out of its context, will seem way too optimistic. We have seen, time and time again, the evils that all too often capture our minds and wills – everything from horrifying atrocities that happen in far-off places to the mean-spirited pettiness that can afflict us where we live. When we witness terrorism, gratuitous violence of other kinds, divisions between people, childish politics, environmental dangers, economic uncertainties, and other challenges in our world, and the personal trials we all face, it becomes increasingly difficult to think that “all things work for good”. At times, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. How could Paul say such a thing, we wonder?  Continue reading “All Things Work For Good”

Seeds

Fifteenth Sunday of the Year (A): Matthew 13:1-23

Of all the challenging situations that we human beings face, perhaps few have a sharper sting than the feeling of having invested oneself, heart and soul, in something or someone, and to have that investment seemingly come to nothing. One man invests himself in a career, only to find himself the victim of downsizing or forced early retirement. One woman invests herself in a marriage, only to find abuse, infidelity and divorce. Parents invest so much time and energy in their children, only to find that some are captured by addictions or ambitions or social pressures. Even the children who grow up and become successful in the world might abandon any obvious practice of their faith. We could cite other examples: an older man or woman whose spouse has severe dementia, or parents whose child has severe autism. It can be very difficult to persevere in the face of such challenges, especially when people end up investing so much of themselves in these ways and can see very little return from their investment. Disappointment is often a bitter dish.   Continue reading “Seeds”

The Voice of Restlessness

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Matthew 11:25-30

One day in early spring, I somehow caught a bad stomach flu. It began one evening with some stomach cramps. Then came that feeling that things were about to work in reverse, if you know what I mean. I needed to get to the bathroom, and quickly. That was the first of several experiences of multiple vomiting that I had that night. “Unpleasant” doesn’t begin to describe it! The next day, I felt totally depleted. It took a great deal of willpower to get myself to do anything.

A couple of days later, I began to feel restless. To me, that was a good sign. My energy was beginning to return, and was looking for an outlet. I wasn’t yet ready for my normal routine, but the worst of that flu was certainly over. My restlessness was the first positive sign of that. At times, that is what our times of restlessness mean. Our bodies simply have some excess energy that needs an outlet of some kind.  Continue reading “The Voice of Restlessness”

Thomas

Feast of St. Thomas: John 20:24-29

Whenever we, in our own time, ponder the Gospel accounts of the appearances of the Risen Lord, we may wonder what they were like. We may even feel a touch of envy for people like Peter and Mary Magdalene and Paul, who saw the Risen Lord Jesus. We may say to ourselves, “Well, they saw him; we don’t. They had an advantage over us”. Or so we believe. Going further, we read in the Acts of the Apostles how faith in the presence of the Risen Lord enabled the apostles (and others) to preach, heal, and face great dangers out of love for the Lord. We may wonder how we can encounter the presence and power of the Risen Lord in our own lives.

A closer look at the resurrection appearances in the Gospels will help us greatly. These accounts were written not only to show how the Risen Lord appeared to these first believers; they are also written to give future believers, those who have not seen Jesus, clues as to how they, too, can encounter the Risen Lord. The story of Jesus’ appearance to Thomas is certainly one that can be read on both levels.   Continue reading “Thomas”