MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on where we can find hope in times of suffering. Does God bring suffering? Why? How can we find relief? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19. #GreatPreaching #MichelleKnight #Sermons #Homilies
For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 8/11/2013 The 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 12:38-48 and Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19.
There is no way to hide it: sometimes life is just too much to bear. There are days that we just cannot hink about putting one foot out of the bed onto the floor. Our spouse is an alcoholic. Our teenager, we SWEAR, is an alien from outer space. Our boss has once again approved the project, but just not the one thing in the project that will make is successful. The bishop has appointed a priest who doesn’t want contact with the parishioners. Our baby won’t stop crying through the night. We have found out that we have a few months to live. There is a tornado or mudslide somewhere in the world and thousands are dead.
When we begin to connect the dots, we may think, “Where is God in all of this? Why would God make us suffer so very much? When will my relief come?”
If this is how you feel and if you have experienced anything like what I have described, then the book of Hebrews is for you. The book of Hebrews was written to a community that was being persecuted for being Christian. Persecution has its origins in sin and the Devil. It does not have its origins in God. God allows evil because people have got to have the ability to make their choice, but persecution does not come from God.
In fact, God is the one who sends people of faith around us to give us what they can, when they can, where they can. It is God who sends us messengers who remind us that there is a hope to be found within that connects us to the heavens and that connection then leads us out of our misery. The writer of the Hebrews, some say St. Paul, is that person for this community. He is writing to them to remind them to stay strong, be faithful.
This past week, Michelle Knight, one of three women who were kept captive by Ariel Castro in a home in Cleveland, OH for over 11 years, gave her testimony at her captor’s sentencing trial. After all those years of suffering, she recounted how she and another captive woman, Gina, gave each other hope. How did they do that? She recounted how they kept on reminding each other that one day, they would be delivered.
Read the list of people in Hebrews. Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, and more were people who “saw [what was promised] from afar,” and “having seen it,” “greeted it”. They could see what could be. They dreamed it. They heard it whisper in their ears. They felt its wind upon their faces. They tasted the meal of the Heveanly Kingdom placed before them. All of it was far off. All of it was somewhere else. Yet, this notion is the same notion about which Jesus greets the people in Luke 12 today.
Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Then he goes on to tell them to detach themselves from worldly things and cling to those things that the Father’s “good pleasure gives us in the kingdom.” That is right. Look at the prize. Key your eye on the prize. Do not seek the temporary fix, the gratuitous comforter of the moment. Do not hold on to the things that are put in the landfill and which you cannot take to the grave.
Detach yourself from all of these worldly desires and hold onto those things of heaven: integrity, confidence in your instincts, knowledge of your goodness in the eyes of God, the ability to choose to forgive, the consciousness of the moment and all those other qualities that no one can take from you. Even if they beat you, insult you, wear you down, put you down, ride roughshod over your heart, defile you, degrade you, or just wear you out, this is not what God wants. This is not what God wants you to have. No! He wants you to have heaven.
So, now it is time to take your troubles to the Lord. It is time for you to rest your head on the Father’s lap in heaven. It is time for you to feel him pick up each worry, each abuse, each hardship and place it in a basket. You may pick and choose which ones you wish to carry throughout the day, if any at all.
The next day, make a list of the things that are weighing you down. Offer them to the Lord to take care of them. Then, choose which ones you are going to get upset about, if any. Then, choose which ones you are going to worry about, if any. Then, choose which ones you are going to try to fix, if any. OR, you can put them in the hands of the Lord, for just like the Great Cloud of Witnesses who has gone before you, you can know that it is the “good pleasure [of the Father] to give you the kingdom.” Amen? Amen.
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