As I walked into Church this morning I almost ran into a tree. You heard that right. I was looking down at my phone (really, to pause the prayer I was listening to, honest!) and next thing I know, I realize that one more step, and a tree will be in my face.
Thank you, distractions. Thank you, tree. This may seem ridiculous to thank my distractions and the tree but bear with me.
I walked into the narthex, and not only were my glasses fogged up (because of my face mask), but the sun was shining brightly through one of the far windows, blinding me. “Sit where the sun is not in my eyes,” I told myself as I walked into the nave. I could barely see where I was going, but I found a spot to sit down and begin writing in my journal. I invited Jesus into all of me for Mass — all of my thoughts, even the darkest ones.
Does that seem strange, to invite Jesus into the darkness?
Mass began and I stood up. The blinding sunlight was coming through the window, right into my eyes again as I stood. “It will be gone when I sit down for the readings,” I thought.
The first reading was from Ephesians. I love Ephesians. Just a note to the reader, if you read the daily Mass readings everyday we will be going through most of Ephesians for the next two weeks. Today this struck me: “You…were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:13-14). Our being sealed in the Holy Spirit is only the first installment. “There is so much more to come!” I thought. We are His possession, His sons and daughters. Our inheritance is His gentle care, His love, His tenderness.
The psalm verse “Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own” fits right into this.
Blessed the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the Lord looks down;
he sees all mankind (Ps 33:12-13).
God is in charge. We are His people. He gives us everything.
We stood up for the Gospel and I was blinded by the light again. I tried moving to my right. The light was still in my eyes. I decided to just close them and listen to the Word.
“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows (Lk 12:2-7).”
I sat down for the homily. “Every cell of our body is known by the Lord,” the priest said. “Bring everything into the light.”
I laughed at myself. “I can’t hide from you, can I, Jesus?” I thought of the bright sunlight through the Church window that seemed to be chasing me and blinding me.
I remembered what I wrote in my journal at the beginning of Mass. “I invite You into all of me, all of my thoughts, even the darkest ones.”
Jesus wants to be there to heal! He wants to be in every part of us. We can think of every cell, but is that all? A cell is a material thing. What about the spiritual “parts” of us? Our memories, our thoughts, our intellectual ponderings.
Our feelings. Even the darkest ones. He wants to be there, too.
His light may feel too bright. It may burn at first, but the burning is purifying.
What do we know about Him?
Look at the crucifix. Do not be afraid. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).
While we were still sinners? He chases us down. His light shines in the darkness. He wants to be in everything — in the distractions, in the falls. He is not afraid of our sins, even the darkest ones. He felt all of them in His death, and in the moment of His last breath, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Having been sealed in the Spirit was only the beginning. We now live the redemption and claim our inheritance in and through Christ and His loving sacrifice. There is nothing we can give Him that He cannot make new, even our darkest sins. Because we were created “very good” God can bring good purpose to all! Even the distractions. Even the bumps in the road. Even the trees we may run into! Our inheritance is His gentle care, His love, His tenderness.
Be not afraid.