Thursday, August 11, 2016

Something To Hold Onto

After many years of hard work, Carol thought she had finally arrived.

She had a successful career in the healthcare industry, was married with two sons and lived in a large house in a desirable subdivision. Though it seemed as though she had it all, there was still something nagging at her. With everything she had achieved, there still seemed to be something missing. She felt unfulfilled as if there were something more she was called to do.

Her friends told her that she was probably working too hard or that she needed a makeover. But she was convinced it was something deeper than that. So she turned to prayer. As she reflected on her life, she began getting the feeling that she wanted more children. However, that would mean giving up her job to stay home and raise them. They could afford daycare and Catholic school for two children but not for any more.

Over the months, it was a real struggle for Carol and her husband to come to terms with what they began to believe God was calling them to do. Nonetheless, trusting in His goodness and love, Carol left her job and they made the sacrifices necessary to welcome more children into their family.

Their friends thought they had lost their mind. They tried to tell them that what they were doing made no sense financially and that, because they were older, they were risking their health. But they were convinced that it was what God wanted for them.

Several years later, Carol had three more children and was homeschooling them. She also started her own business consulting with other homeschooling families. Though they are not able to vacation as often as they had before and have had to put off some maintenance to their home,  they cannot imagine what life would be like without their five children. Their home has become a magnet for the other neighborhood children who can feel the joy that exudes from this beautiful family.

Carol and her husband trusted God, found the courage to say “yes” to what He was asking of them, and learned that it made all the difference in the world.

Carol and her family are examples for us of the faith we read about in today’s second reading. Faith is not only believing that God exists, it is not only accepting as true all that our Church teaches, it is also putting our lives into God’s hands so that He can do with it whatever He wills. It means not only standing up to recite the Creed but picking up our cross and following Christ wherever He may lead us. It all starts with the simple prayer, “Lord, I will go wherever you lead me.”
Our father in faith, Abraham, is the Bible’s first example of such trust in God. As the letter to the Hebrews tells us, he left his homeland because he believed in God’s promise of a better land awaiting him. Though he and his wife were very old, they believed that God could give them a son who would give him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. Then, when a son was born to him, he was willing to sacrifice him. All this because Abraham believed that God would not let him down. He was willing to do whatever God asked of him because He trusted that God was good. That is the essence of faith - betting our lives that God will provide for us no matter what.

Brothers and sisters, God is good. He loves us each with a deep and personal affection. There is nothing we can do to lose that love He has for us. No matter what, we can trust Him. His love is the surest thing in this world. Friends come in and out of our lives. Family members let us down or pass away. Our financial situation and health can sometimes fluctuate dramatically. What seemed important yesterday does not seem so important today. What seemed so reliable last week does not seem like such a sure thing this week. There is one thing we can count on from day to day and from year to year throughout our lives. It is the love of God for us. He created us to know, love and serve Him in this life and to be happy with Him forever in the life to come. Whatever He asks of us is for our good and for the good of our loved ones. Whenever we find the faith and courage to say “yes” to Him, we can be sure that He will take care of the rest.

We live in very unsettled times. Everything seems to be changing rapidly. It is increasingly more difficult to know whom we can believe in. With so much confusion and chaos around us, it is natural that we will reach out to whatever seems steady and secure at the moment the way passengers on a boat hold onto the mast when going through rough seas. But there is nothing more solid and secure than God’s love for us. When the vagaries of life become too much for us, we can always turn to Him. He will not let us down. Even if it means making significant changes in our lives, we can be sure that it will be worth it.

In his encyclical letter, The Light of Faith, Pope Francis writes: “In God’s gift of faith...we realize that a great love has been offered us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome that word, Jesus Christ the Word made flesh, the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future and enables us joyfully to advance along that way on wings of hope.” Whenever we are feeling lost, whenever life does not seem to be fulfilling its promises, we can always turn to our Heavenly Father who stands ready to offer us whatever we need to live full and happy lives. We need only put our fears aside and place our lives in His hands. He will do the rest.

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