4th Sunday of Lent
This world can be a hard place to be. This life can be a hard one to live. Yet God also offers us people to walk through this world and this life with, to help make it more bearable. When we are feeling down, hurt, wronged, or wrong, it is hard to reach out to God and the people we love. Our instinct, at times, is to pull deeper inside of ourselves and be even more isolated. It rarely works or helps for a sustained period of time. When we can find the courage to reach out to God, to nature, to our people, we are so often surprised by grace, comfort and love.
When the narrator in March 10th Spirit Magazine finds out she is pregnant, she immediately hides in fear. She was scared of being judged by God and the people who cared about her the most. She was strong enough to reach out to her friend, then her brother. When parents found out, she hid again. Her mother offered her not shouts of judgement, but welcomed her in with open arms of support. She reached out to her boyfriend, then the adoptive parents of her son. At the beginning, she felt alone and scared. By the end of her story, she felt loved and cared by a growing group of people. God was there every time she reached out for help. She was lost and is found.
In the Gospel story, the younger son in the parable left his family and squandered his money. He found himself in great need, hungry enough to be jealous of what the pigs were eating. He was alone, miserable and scared. Finally, he was brave enough to reach out to his father and ask for forgiveness. Instead of shouts of judgement, his father welcomed him back home with open arms and a banquet. God was there when he reached out for help. He was lost and is found.
The back of Spirit this week urges us to take four steps when consulting our conscience to discern right from wrong: focus, discern prayerfully, consult, act. Hiding can be our time of focus and prayerful discernment. It is important to be on our own in a quiet space where we can hear God whispering to us. Yet we also must be brave enough to move into a stage of consultation when we reach out to others who we know and trust. We are not alone in this life. God has surrounded us with people who care. The Catholic Church challenges us in its doctrine glean wisdom from our Scripture, our Tradition and our world. The truth can come out of brave, honest conversation with those around us.
We are human, and we will make mistakes that make us want to retreat from people we care about and hide. This Lent, when we find ourselves in that place of quiet, let us also find in the quiet the courage to reach out to others, knowing that God will be there with the people in our lives to welcome us in with open arms of love and support.
When was a time that you went into hiding?
Speak of a time you were offered open arms when you were expecting shouts of judgement.
Who are the people God has given you to walk this period of your life with?
Who are the people you consult with on matters of discernment?