From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
How things change in a week! Last week, Simon is given the name Peter and told by Jesus that His church will be built on his foundation! The keys to the kingdom will be given to him. A tremendous challenge to be sure – but how amazing he must have felt, being chosen by Jesus to take on such a task. Now, just one week later, Jesus tells Peter “get behind me Satan!” That had to sting! Jesus is asking his disciples to reverse their way of thinking. Of course, they don’t get it right away. Peter, who just told Jesus that, in his opinion, Jesus was more than a prophet: he was God’s anointed Messiah. But he is thinking in earthly terms. Jesus tells them “you are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do!” As humans, we seek to avoid suffering. But Jesus has come not to avoid suffering but rather to suffer for our sake. God calls us to think differently, to not conform ourselves to this age. Rather, He calls us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds through the discernment of God’s will for our lives.
Our readings this week are all about suffering. Jesus suffers more than any of us and more than all of us combined. And he suffers mostly for us. We know that in our minds but it’s a little harder in our hearts. His suffering doesn’t make ours feel any easier. The words of Jeremiah “You duped me O Lord” – come from his fifth ‘confession’ and echo a similar sentiment from the opening of the book of Habakkuk “how long o Lord, I cry for help but you do not listen.” These are actually two of my favorite quotes from the prophets – probably because I can so easily relate. How many of us have felt the frustration of suffering and feeling powerless and helpless to the point of crying out to the Lord “Why? Where are you? Why have you abandoned me?” Suffering is a part of our human condition and I suspect we have all been there. Jesus reminds us that we must pick up our crosses, that we must follow him in suffering, but that if we do, eternal happiness will be ours.
As Vincentian’s, we see people every day in tremendous pain, suffering and hopelessness. Just as Jesus lifts us up in our time of need, so too we must lift others, helping them to understand and walking with them through their suffering. Do we remember to offer not only assistance in the moment but hope for the future? Do we provide the light that helps others to see through the pain and suffering which blinds them and keeps them from moving forward? Do we help to think as God does and not as human beings?
Father, give me the courage to see through suffering, to recognize the blessings that await me. Comfort me in my distress. Help me to lift those whom you bring before me, allowing them to feel your presence and action in their lives. Give me the compassion to embrace their suffering as my own. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen