If asked about your faith in God, what would you say? For most of us, I guess it would depend on the day and our present life circumstances. I was recently reading a journal entry about Mom from 3 years ago, which caused me to ponder this important life question in a whole new way. It was the beginning of Mom’s stage 4 cancer journey and a time of anxiety and uncertainty for our whole family. God had not abandoned us though – His voice was loud and clear, bringing us peace and calm in the midst of our stormy new reality. We just needed ears of faith to hear Him.
August 2013 “It is my sister’s 44th birthday and we began the day with morning Mass. During the newness of Mom’s diagnosis, we find this a beautiful way to begin our day in quiet and prayer. Today’s gospel was the story of Peter responding to Jesus’ question “Who do you say that I am?” Peter confidently states – the Lord, the Son of the Living God. Jesus rewards Peter, and says “you are right, but my journey will take me to the cross.” Peter gets upset and tells Jesus that he does not want this to happen to him, to which Jesus rebukes Peter saying “get behind me!” To many people – including me – this is a tough gospel to understand. But I think the message is clear – don’t just trust in Jesus when things are good and easy, be willing to follow Him and trust when life gets hard and when you have to pick up your own cross and follow behind. The cross is our life right now and so this certainly seems like the right message.
After Mass, I felt compelled to approach the priest and ask him to pray for Mom. He asked if she had received the Sacrament of Healing and when I said no, he offered to administer it to her. So then right after Mass, without any planning, Mom received the Sacrament of Healing in the quiet of a late summer morning on Cape Cod, surrounded by her loving daughters and 2 grandchildren. It was a beautiful moment where we could feel the power of God’s healing grace come over her. My sister’s youngest two children, Johnny age 5 and Julia age 9 silently stroked Mom’s hands as the priest prayed over her. It was truly a moment that we will never forget – Liz and I looking on as Mom silently welcomed the healing power of God into her soul with such deep faith.”
The graces received from this sacrament along with daily prayer, Mass, Adoration and Eucharist allowed Mom to pick up her cross and follow Jesus all the way to September 9, 2016 when He called her home. She knew our Lord intimately because she visited Him often, despite her pain, anxiety and worry about the disease that had invaded her life. She followed the advice that Jesus gave to Peter in the gospel reading from 3 years ago – and God rewarded her for the depth of her faith.
Mom taught me that in order to know God, I have to treat Him like the friend He is to me. As with all friendships, we have to nurture our relationship with God in order for it to grow healthy and strong. Think about your best friendships – how did they become that way? I would guess that your closest friends became that way through time spent together, attention to one another and love shared and given freely. Mom encouraged our family to look at our relationship with God in the same way.
Who do you say that I am? Mom knew that our Lord was her best friend and Savior in good times and tough times. She knew that He would walk with her during the best moments of her life and in the most challenging moments. And when the moment came to pass from this world to the next, Mom knew that He would be waiting for her with an outstretched hand and warm embrace saying “Welcome home dearest Joan Mary, my good and faithful servant. Job very well done.”