Sitting in my familiar spot in our historic church on Friday morning, I had allowed myself to settle in with the hope that God would reach out to me during our morning Mass. It had been a tough week in terms of back pain and I needed a spiritual boost to reignite my life long passion for faith and hope in God. After the Gospel was read by our pastor, my reaction was nothing short of disappointed. I had no idea what God might be saying to me through the words from Matthew (11:16-19). I felt dejected and even upset that I had come to Mass this morning.
Then it happened. It was like a lightbulb turning from darkness to brilliant white. Through the words of our beautiful priest, the gospel became as clear me to as the names and birth dates of my children. In one glorious moment, I was transformed from a place of ignorance to a place of wisdom. Through this place of wisdom, I was able to hear clearly the voice of our beloved and merciful God. He had not forgotten me. He was reaching out to me with a gentle and loving smile, coaxing me to recall the many ways he had been present to me (and all of you) during the past weeks of challenges.
As we often read in the Gospels, people don’t take note of the way God has blessed their lives because they are too busy complaining. The same is true in the Gospel of Matthew from this past Friday. People were not moved by the way God came to them, thus they didn’t have eyes of faith to see him! Are we also guilty of this crime or are we open to the many ways God comes to us each day?
When I was getting out of the pool at Physical Therapy this week, my wonderful therapist offered to give my back a much-needed massage. “Meet me upstairs after you change, I have time before my next appointment.” she said. I eagerly changed and headed upstairs for a therapy which helps work out the stress and pain in my neck and lower back. As she was working on me, I noted the hour of the day and said “Have you eaten lunch?” She responded “I had a bite when you were changing but I will eat during our clinic meeting at 2 pm.” It was clear to me that my incredible therapist gave up her lunch hour to offer me extra therapy. That was a sure sign of God’s presence and yet at the time, I had missed it.
After that, I started to look back at the preceding weeks and took note of the many times God showed up when I didn’t notice him. There was the day my son Andrew and my dad dug deep holes at my mom’s grave so we could plant beautiful trees for Christmas. Then, two friends offered to pick up my son from Catholic Memorial this week, saving my back from the long drive. Another friend with a young family spent quite a long time on the phone with me when I needed to talk through some health issues. Then my sister called and offered to “fly anywhere” in order to find the best solution to my pain. My sister-in-law offered to do whatever is needed to help my back situation during our upcoming Christmas trip abroad. Then Grace came home to visit, bringing much joy and positive energy, before going to my Dad’s house on Cape Cod to assist with his annual toy drive for the needy. (Emma calling from college to report that her first term grade is an “A” certainly helped put a smile on my face!) Of course my lovely husband is always there – doing errands that ease my pain; filling up the cars with gas, cooking for the week before he travels, picking up prescriptions from CVS and so much more.
I guess I was guilty of not seeing the many ways God was reaching out to me each day. It’s funny that it took a very challenging – not quite understandable – Gospel to help me see clearly again. I think that it was good that I made the effort to meet God half way at Mass, even when I didn’t feel like it. There, I was open to hearing him speak. God is there for all of us, even when we don’t see him.
My prayer for anyone reading this blog is that you take a moment to see where God is working in your life, especially if you find yourself in a challenging place. History tells us that our inability to see him at times is nothing new. The crime would be to accept this thinking as truth and thus go on living in an unhappy way. I challenge you to be moved by God – despite your circumstances – and notice the many ways he is profoundly loving you and working in your life each day!