Thursday, December 2, 2010

We Belong to God

There’d be no early morning mass today, so I slept in late – or at least I tried to. But the internal alarm wouldn’t stop ringing so as I lay there my mind turned to prayer. There were many things, and people, to pray about today. First came thanks however, for despite all the bad things to be concerned about, there were so many more good things. We don’t think often enough about it, but we are all very blessed.

When I finally got up and got ready, I went downstairs and sat at the table. I still had time, so I lit the Advent candle and began to read the two books of daily Advent meditations I was using this year. As I bagan reading, my mind slipped back to yesterday and the post you might have read here. “What a Dork!” Obviously I was being concerned about the bad things I saw in my life yesterday. But today I remembered that late last night I had read a response to that post, someone saying that “Being a dork can be a gift.” It was yet another little consolation from God; someone had read things I wrote here, took them to heart and remembered them --- and reminded me, who forgotten. “Gods plans are not our plans, and He can make good out of even the bad things in our plans, or our actions.” Being a dork can be a gift. Thank you.

As I read further in the morning meditations I saw yet another reminder of this. The writer was using an earthquake as an analogy for the problems we face in life. Sometimes things which happen to us are caused by things very deep within us. Advent is a good time to think about the bad things which happen to us, or even those we do, and reflect on the deep causes:

Each of us needs to ask this Advent, what is my epicenter? What is my greatest danger point? Where do I have to take most precautions? In the earthquake in California, we heard about this fault running through the earth, twelve miles beneath the surface.
This geological mystery cannot be remedied by man. But we CAN bring the plates together; we CAN mend (our) fault, that deep-down thing twelve miles below the surface of this occasion, this situation in which I gave such a bad performance. I really can. I do not despond, I do not wed myself to this mood, I do not sit down in self-pity, I do not erupt into anger. I can do what scientists can’t do, I have the grace to do it, and I CAN do it.
Let us look, each one of us, at our own epicenter, when something unexpected comes up or when something seems to build up, and there is this wreckage. Then I have to see what is really twelve miles below it. And I have to see this, not in a pessimistic dismay, but what I would call an affirmative dismay, and say: “Yes, that’s horrible! That is frightening, but I CAN do something about it.”

--- Mother Mary Francis, PCC, Come, Lord Jesus

I imagine my day as being my and Jesus walking along together. Sometimes we just talk, and I affirm to Him the things I saw Him do, and He affirms to me the things he saw me do. Sometimes he leads and I follow, even if sometimes not quite knowing where He is leading. Sometimes I get a bit heady and insist on leading, but He taught me well and gave me many talents so most often things turn out well. But occasionally I stumble, or even get lost. But He always seems there to catch me or find me. And no matter how astray I went, He can take my errors and build a new route from there. And we walk on.

Yesterday I was a dork, fumbling along on my own, but He helped remind me, through a friend, that He’d still get us on the right path, if I trusted in Him. This morning He reminded me that there is something which causes me to wander like that sometimes; it is a deep fault, but I can fix it. It’s something I need to work on, as we walk along, so I don’t fall again.

I went to a funeral mass this morning. A woman I know was caring for her mother for many years, as I am mine, and her mother finally died. During the short visitation period before mass, we hugged and I met her family. There were more people than I expected, but we never know how many people we influence with our lives, I guess. I met a woman who heard that I was taking care of mom, and she asked me some questions. Her father was in Phoenix and needed help. She didn’t know exactly what to do; she was considering bringing him up to Michigan and care for him here. I had brought mom up from Phoenix (what a coincidence!?) and described some of the things I considered in deciding how to help her. The woman thanked me for giving her new ideas and alternatives to consider.

As I went into the church proper to say my morning prayers and meditations before mass, I thought for a moment: Did I just ramble on too much with her? Should I have shut up? I guess I’ll never know, but either it was a good thing, a perfect timing again by God, or I’m confident he will make good of it, even out of my blathering. He does that so well.

I opened my morning prayers with words for my friend and her departed mother. Then I looked at the next meditation for the day: The Resurrection of the Body. (That God, even when my mood is somber, He can make me laugh.) These are some of the words I read, which gave me comfort:

God constructed humans from matter. It experienced the hand of God when He formed and shaped it. Reflect on God, His work, (and) His affection that guided its features. For, whatever was expressed in clay, it was Christ, the future man, that was thought of.
--- Tertullian, De Resurrectione Mortuorum

The dust around us will one day become animate. We may ourselves be dead long before, and not see it. We ourselves may elsewhere be buried, and, should it be our exceeding blessedness to rise to life eternal, we may rise in other places, far in the east or west. But, as God’s word is sure, what is sown is raised; the earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, shall become glory to glory, and life to the living God, and a true incorruptible image of the spirit made perfect. Here the saints sleep; here they shall rise. A great sight will a Christian country then be, if earth remains what it is; when holy places pour out the worshippers who have for generations kept vigil therein, waiting through the long night for the bright coming of Christ!
--- John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons

Well, I have to head over to mom’s soon. Her caregiver has a late-day appointment with someone or other and I have to be over there early today. It will be a good end to today, this day of walking with Jesus and spending much of the day thinking about all He has done for me. It is not only the bad, which I so easily remember. If you take some time, you may realize all the things He has done for you also.

As I am ready to end these reflections, I find myself suddenly humming the hymn that was sung this morning, as the casket was slowly wheeled into the church. They are good words to think on:

We Belong to God

None of us lives as his own,
and none of us dies as his own,
for while we live we are responsible to God,
and when we die we die as His servants.

(R) For both in life and death, we belong to God.
That is why, Christ has died for us and come again.
We shall all appear before the judgment seat of God,
For it is written, “Ev’ry knee shall bend before Me,
and ev’ry tongue shall give praise to God.”

For we are sure that neither death, nor life,
nor this, nor future ages, nor their pow’rs,
no height, no depth, no creature that thrives
will come between us and the love of Christ

Give yourselves as sacrifice to God,
holy and acceptable to the Lord.
Do not allow your minds to be conformed to this age,
but let your hearts be ruled by His Spirit

For both in life and death, we belong to God.
That is why, Christ has died for us and come again.
We shall all appear before the judgment seat of God,
For it is written, “Ev’ry knee shall bend before Me,
and ev’ry tongue shall give praise to God.”

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