In difficult times, Kevin Mackin, OFM, who published the reflection below on his blog, A Franciscan Journey, urges readers to “listen to God’s promises over our feelings and emotions.”
In light of current news about threats and violence, I think of the word of God describing Elijah, centuries ago, who did “wonderful things for God and his people.” He ended a scorching drought, saving many lives. He preached fidelity to God’s covenant. For denouncing royal wrongdoings, Queen Jezebel ran Elijah out of town. Elijah hid in a cave and cried out, “Where is God now?”
Elijah looked for God in extraordinary phenomena. Instead, he found God in an ordinary “tiny, whispering sound.” He found God where he didn’t expect to find him. That discovery re-energized Elijah.
In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus went off to converse with his heavenly Father in prayer, while his disciples set sail only to be frightened by a raging storm in the Sea of Galilee. Suddenly, Jesus appears. “It is I; do not be afraid,” Jesus says. The Gospel invites us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus; if we do, our faith will conquer our fears.
Two Gospel phrases caught my “eyes,” and I simply would paraphrase these into, “Help me, Lord!” and “Do not be afraid; God is with me.”
One of the most common prayers in the Bible is “help.” It’s a simple prayer we can pray every day, in any situation. We can make Psalm 88 our prayer, “I cry to you for help, O Lord.” Help us, Lord, in our struggles with addictions or bad habits or sins from which we want to break free. The Spirit of God within us will help us live the kind of life we know God wants us to live.
The second paraphrase is: “Do not be afraid; God is with us.” As Genesis states, God created us in the divine image. “God with us” (Emmanuel) is one of the titles the New Testament uses for Jesus (Matthew 1:23). To experience “God with us” is life-changing. God actually dwells in us. In the life-giving waters of baptism, God has gifted us with his life and Spirit. We possess within ourselves wisdom (to recognize what truly matters in life), intelligence (to discern what is true), and courage, empathy or compassion, good judgment, and wonder and awe to worship the great God of this universe.
God is with us. In difficult times, listen to God’s promises over our feelings and emotions. The psalmist says that God will be with us in our troubles (Ps 91). Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us of this many times.
God also is with us in our successes. And has someone else been given the privilege of doing something that you wanted to do? Bless the efforts of others; pray for them that they follow the Lord in all they do.
Life may not be easy, but Jesus promised that if we stay close to him, we will bear much fruit (John 15).
— Fr. Kevin, a longtime educator and president emeritus of Siena College and former president of Mount Saint Mary College and Christ the King Graduate School of Theology, is parochial vicar at St. Raphael Church in St. Petersburg, Fla. The previous reflection was about the feast of St. Clare.
Editor’s note: Friars interested in writing a reflection for HNP Today on a timely topic – a holiday, holy day or other seasonal themes – are invited to contact the HNP Communications Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional reflections by friars can be found on the Spiritual Resources page of the HNP website.
- “Reflection: Setting Priorities” – March 1, 2017, HNP Today