This past Monday, October 5, was the first anniversary of my Ordination. I was going to reflect on this past year, which honestly has been fraught with one challenge after the other. Yes, some of the challenges have been common life experiences, the loss of a pet and the loss of a parent. But there have been some challenges that have not been common, yet they are ones we have experienced together – the pandemic, with its precautions, restrictions, and deaths, the ugliness of racism, and a political climate that appears bent on dividing us. To say it has been a year of the unexpected would be an understatement. I cannot imagine going through this year, ordained or not, without the Lord at my side.
The cynic would say our readings this weekend are pure coincidence. Yet as believers in God’s providence, we know them for what they are, timely reminders of our Father’s presence and bountiful love.
St. Paul shares with us through his letter to the Philippians how he lived through the ups and downs encountered in his ministry. We hear how he learned to live with abundance as well as need. Either way, Paul states, he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. From food, clothing, and shelter from storms to civility in society, I would dare say we are living in a time of need. Like Paul, we too can be strengthened by Jesus. Further, Paul assures us God will supply us with what He knows we need, even though at times it isn’t what we think we need.
From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we hear that the Lord will provide for all people. And I take solace, especially this past month, in reading that God will wipe away the tears from every face. Isaiah tells us the veil that separates all peoples from a relationship with God will be destroyed, and indeed it has been — through Jesus. So too has death been destroyed forever, a point not far from my mind and heart.
To reinforce and fulfill Paul and Isaiah, Jesus teaches us through another of his parables the perils of being too self-reliant and not accepting the invitation from the Father to take part in what he provides for us. We are re-minded through the story of the king and the wedding feast that God continues to reach out to us, sending us messengers, letting us know if we just turn to him, he will provide abundantly.
Without a doubt, these past twelve months have not been what I expected my first year to be like as a permanent deacon. But in ways I suspect still to be revealed to me, I trust it is the year God expected and prepared for me. I pray that you may also turn to and trust our Lord while continuing this journey through this most unusual year.
In the peace of Christ,