Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lord, You Know That I Love You

When I call, but especially when I do not, Lord, be with me.

Calling on the Lord has grown easier for me with the passing of years. Wisdom does come with age. Even in times that are good, whether an earthly joy like a successful accomplishment, or a heavenly joy like receiving communion, I often feel His presence. I speak to him and give Him thanks. There is a certain peace in knowing He is with me in my times of happiness, as if He were holding my hand, and we can look at each other and smile. No words are necessary.

But certainly, calling on the Lord in times of trial, also has grown easier with the passing of years. I know he answers those calls. So often I have seen His gentle hand making things right. I know even in my worst sorrows, and even if I must suffer those sorrows for reasons I’ll never understand, still, He is there with me. And that too, gives me a peace.

Today is Palm Sunday. We hear the gospel where Jesus received praise, and then a short while later He was crucified. We’re given blessed palms, which many of us (like me) take home and place behind the crucifix on the wall, a reminder of the glory given Him one week, and the crucifixion given the next. That too is our life, one of joy and of sorrow, happiness and of pain. And death. But those are the extremes, and they don’t really happen that often.

I included that short prayer I opened with, “be with me when I call, but especially when I do not” in my meditations on the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary. I often call upon the Lord in good times, and almost always in bad, but not nearly enough in some critical times which catch me unawares. Much of our life is that time in between. We go along, doing the best we can, experiencing some little satisfactions when things go as we planned, and experiencing only a short quickly-passing frustration when they do not. This is life, we think. So often in those casual times we don’t think, even for a moment, that God is with us. We think we are in charge. It’s then, however, that we may need Him the most. For the evil one comes to us when we least expect him. And when we need God then, we so often don’t call.

Oh yes, that is one more bit of wisdom I have become aware of in my older years, that many of the most critical moments of my life pass me by without my being aware of them. And those are really the times when I need Jesus the most.

In some of those past critical times, I know I’ve done well. On rare occasions the Lord gives me insight into what happened while I was unaware. “That book you gave me a few months ago, thank you. I really needed it last night.” (What book??) “I never did tell you before, but when you said you’d pray for me that time, everything took a turn for the better afterwards. Thank you for what you did.” (I did??) And “I saw how you were helping others, and it made me look at how I was spending my free time, and so now I volunteer to care for the sick, or for the poor.” (You saw me??) And “I’ll always remember that anniversary when we had no money, but you still went out and bought me a rose.” (What year was that??). Times, critical times, but I was unaware of their importance.

There are so many times, critical times, when what we say or what we do makes a huge difference in the life of someone else, and we don’t even realize it. I mentioned the good examples I may have been blessed to hear about. You may have heard some words like those, too. But I fear what we are missing, and not being told about, are those times when we also have a major influence in someone’s life, but in a negative way.

I suspect we’ll never hear those truths, those failures of ours, spoken aloud to us. “I needed someone to hold my hand that day, but you were too busy, and acted like I wasn’t there.” Or “When I tried to talk to you about the problems in our marriage, and you didn’t listen, then I knew you didn’t love me.” Or “I needed just a kind word or a smile from anyone. I didn’t know you, but you passed me by and turned your head away from me, like I didn’t matter. It was easier, then, for me to commit suicide.” Or “I was carrying My cross, and dying, alone. How I wish you were there to comfort Me.” Times, critical times, but we were unaware of their importance.

I am convinced many of our lives’ most critical moments pass us by when we are unaware. We just don’t think of those moments as important, but those moments may be the very reason for which we were born, chances to make a real difference with our lives. Chances for it to matter to the world, and to God, that we even lived at all. Soren Kierkegaard said that the greatest thing we can ever do with our lives is to be who we were created to be, to fulfill the purpose, the great opportunity that God had in mind when He created us, to really matter the most in His eyes. I fear that many of us, perhaps me more than anyone, miss those critical moments.

Peter prayed: “Lord, You know that I love You,” but even he forgot his words and intentions at a critical time. I pray the Lord does not let that happen to me, in those times which catch me unaware of their importance. I may have really good intentions in my heart, but that still doesn’t prevent me from failing Him, if I forget how much I need Him.

As I considered, today, Jesus’ times of joy and of sorrow, I’m glad I read the short words of meditation and prayer, which reminded me that perhaps when I most need Him is the time when I might be unaware, and I pray that He, especially then, be with me --- even if I do not call.

Lord, let me see You in every person who enters my life, my family, my friends, and even those I consider as strangers. Let me know, love, and serve You in each and every one of them, especially when they need me the most. When You look to me in need, through them, Lord be with me and with my spirit, that I may be Your presence to them.

My Jesus, I trust in You.

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