From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
Sometimes, God can seem very hard to find. We all have our own notions of how He speaks to us. As chaos enters our lives it can become much more difficult to hear the voice of God or to find where he is in all that is going on around us. Our faith is tested – can we keep our focus on listening for God to speak? And when he does speak, is it the way we expect him to? The storms of our lives can paralyze us causing us to run and to lose hope. I suspect we all have been confronted at one time or another by a crisis of some type. You don’t have to look far to find examples from the bible of those who were confronted with these challenges. From Moses leading people out of Egypt; to Elijah as he first flees for his life from the king of Israel, and then asks God to end it all and take his life; to the apostles who go out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee at night to find themselves in a storm with a ‘ghost’ suddenly approaching them; to the upper room where they hid after Jesus was crucified. They all found themselves losing hope and losing focus as they struggled to find the presence and voice of God. They were paralyzed by fear.
Fear is a powerful force and the friend of Satan. Our readings this weekend remind us that truth – even truth delivered to us directly from God – can be overshadowed, overcome and lost in the face of fear and confusion. In our gospel, Jesus commands Peter to walk to him on the water (at Peter’s request mind you) and Peter’s fear overcame the truth he knew – that Jesus would care for him. Our second reading from Romans finds Paul reminding the Christians that he speaks the truth of Christ. They are confused at how God’s Divine Plan could be frustrated by Israel’s unbelief and they fear it will impact them. He discourages them from complacency and anxiety and encourages them to focus on the truth of Christ. Elijah finds God in the whispering sound but must overcome heavy winds, earthquakes and fire to find His presence and truth. We have been confronted over the past three years by fear and confusion caused first by the pandemic and now by financial hardships, political extremism and discord, and a loss of our moral compass. We must not let our fears and confusion get in the way of God’s truth and His Plan.
As Vincentians, St. Vincent calls us to the virtue of simplicity. Simplicity is about truth for both our neighbors and ourselves. Truth about the reality of the situations people find themselves in and what is needed to change direction. Truth about the love Christ has for them through us, and the need for us to persist with Zeal and Charity. But fear, complexity of issues and overwhelming pain can overcome truth for both those we minister to as well as ourselves if we lose sight of God’s hand in all we do. Are we like Paul, providing a calming presence grounded in a sure knowledge of our testimony and actions given in concert with and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Do we offer truth spoken with frankness and integrity and delivered with gentleness, kindness and understanding?
Father, grant me the virtue of simplicity that I might always focus on truthfulness and integrity of actions at all times. Give me the grace to be guided by the Holy Spirit, offering a calmness that allows your voice to be heard in the whispering sound. Let us provide a presence that allows us to move past fear, confusion and uncertainty. Allow us to always illuminate the truth of your words and your will in all situations. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen