Happy are you the wanderer from faith

We have all been here, this parched land. It is in the wilderness of our faith life. We described this experience as being spiritually dry, a sort of disconnect from God. We do not intentionally come here, but we gradually drift, almost unknowingly, and find ourselves away from our faith life.

The reality of life is that we exist in two worlds – the external persuasive worldly ways and the internal restraint of a spiritual life. They co-exist, we cannot live one without the other. We are blessed with the freedom of choice, and sometimes our choices gradually take us away from God.

Perhaps the evolving church experience of the pandemic highlights the perils of this gradual movement. When the virus first forced churches to close doors, masses went online. Online masses were greeted with both relief and enthusiasm. Relieved because we could stay in touch, and we enthusiastically participated in this new, novel way. Gradually, very gradually, we wandered away from our screens, losing focus and discipline. Now, maybe, we are weak-willed to go back to physical church, to go for mass. We have slipped, cut adrift, drifted.

“The Lord says this: ‘A curse on the man who puts his trust in man, who relies on things of flesh, whose heart turns from the Lord. He is like dry scrub in the wastelands: if good comes, he has no eyes for it, he settles in the parched places of the wilderness, a salt land, uninhabited”. (First Reading)

The blessing of this gift of the freedom of choice is not poisoned. When we find ourselves dry in a spiritual desert, we must know that we are not condemned, not even judged by God. In this blessing, God accompanies us in all our choices, even if these choices do distance us from him. The presence of God in our daily life is seen is no better light than God’s loving and compassionate presence in the consequences of our choices. He is always there, waiting, cajoling us to return.

We learn more about our two worlds through these relative experiences, in the intermingle, and the coming and going from one to the other. When we were once like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream with no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit, we appreciate better when we are dried up on a parched land in our spiritual wilderness. The blessing of every desert experience is that when we come back from it, we will always come back stronger. But like the choices we made that took us there, we must make the choices to bring ourselves back. Many people returning to faith will testify this.

“‘How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God. Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied. Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh… ‘But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now. Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry. Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.’”  (Gospel)

In this world of relative experiences, people returning to faith relate very well to this. These Beatitudes become for us our spiritual compass out of the deserts. To be ‘happy’, to be ‘blessed’ grows gradually in us as we appreciate ‘God with us’ on our earthly journey. Happy for you the wanderer from faith, for you shall experience God’s faithful accompaniment in all your choices.

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reaching out for Returning Catholics

Hopefully we are transiting from the pandemic to an endemic. In its wake, our lives were all turned upside down. For most, it was, and remain, a period of challenges. Below the surface of our lives, there are perhaps unanswered questions thrown up by the mystery of this virus. Digging below the surface, some may want to return to a fuller and more intentional faith life, probing into the question of who and where God is.

“He said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’” (Today’s Gospel)

Now is a good season to reach out to returning Catholics. Returning Catholics are we who have been away from church, and her life, for some time but are now contemplating a return. This invitation to return is one of many questions that is below the surface of our lives. It is good season to put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.

Landings is a ministry reaching out to and welcoming back returning Catholics. The spirituality of casting our nets into deep water is very rich. The method is effective and has transformed the lives of many returning Catholics, filling each with peace and purpose.

The method involves casting the net into the deep waters of our personal life. It visits the past events of our life story. There are many chapters we do not quite understand, some we are even unwilling to read again. There are episodes of pain that need healing, and there are episodes of shame that need reconciling. All these we haul up with the help of the ministry, our fishers of men. We sort out the catch. Jesus smiles. He has surprised us in our own net.

When God calls us to return, he is inviting us to come closer and have a look. This method helps us to see our life story as our faith story. God wants to reveal himself hidden in the little details of our life. His presence has been constant throughout our personal history, and it is time to heal the pain and reconcile the shame. It is time to bring to surface his personal relationship with us.

“When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’”

Many returning Catholics approach in trepidation. We drag in our nets articles we would rather hide from him. We approach with a combination of guilt, shame, and unworthiness, wondering if God even remembers us. But returning Catholics are always surprised by the magnitude of God’s generous love where they find no need for personal accountability as there is no judgement, only affirmation. This welcome is so overwhelming, enough for us to cry out, “Leave me Lord, I am a sinful person”.

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: ‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’ I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’” (First Reading)

The returning experience is powerful. Many returned to find themselves not merely settled down in the pews for mass but are so fired up that they want to be sent to be fishers of men to help the many others out there to cast their nets into deep waters. Returning Catholics have left their nets of old and become preachers of the Gospel in a way only they themselves know how. Like St Paul, returning Catholics can be entitled to feel this way:

“I am the least of the apostles; in fact, since I persecuted the Church of God, I hardly deserve the name apostle; but by God’s grace that is what I am, and the grace that he gave me has not been fruitless.” (Second Reading)

In this season, a ministry reaching out to returning Catholics should be in every parish. It is time to realise and recognise this need. “Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.” They cannot haul up their nets on their own.

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

What is our mission today?

Churches dot the landscape in rural, northern Thailand. There are many, more than I expected. Here they reach out to the indigenous people, respectfully, the hill tribes. Amidst people who have less, a church is mission in action. The Word of God is lively in the traditional sense of mission. Coming back into urban, modern cities especially in developed countries, a church represents a place of worship. Amidst people who have more, there is the luxury to debate if religion is passe.

“The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.” (Today’s Gospel)

I grew up in the 60’s in Singapore, then an island nation who had less. Going to CK Tang in Orchard Road was a once-a-year treat, the bus fare was otherwise better used for more pressing essentials. We lived in an estate where fronts doors were welcomingly opened, a sign of community inter-dependence, perhaps a lived experience of today’s second reading, Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ.” Mission, in the sense of this article, was both knowingly and unknowingly expressed.

Six decades on, urbanization may suggest that mission is over for some, at least it’s not required at our doorsteps. As the world evolved, we as people in the one body of this world, do as well, not just outwardly but inwardly in values too. Are we happy, at ease, and at peace today?

Evangelization accompanies mission. Six decades on, Christ is more known today than he was yesterday, at least in terms of linear knowledge. Evangelization to convert non-believers to believers, non-Christian to Christians is much at pace in rural areas but has slowed among urbanites.  Mission in its purest form is not about conversion. Mission is about each part caring for the other parts in our one body, with love as the oxygen reaching to all parts sustaining spiritual life.

Today in urban areas, there are many people who despite outward displays of comfort, actually have less. People are not at peace inwardly. Emotionally, and deeper inward, spiritually, today’s world is holding us captive and making us blind. Our mission has evolved and today it is to carry this oxygen to set these down-trodden free. Evolution requires new tools, new ways, and new expressions to set alight the Word of God in our midst. We as laity are best positioned for this mission simply because we live in the midst of this one body and we have been anointed and given the Spirit of the Lord and sent to bring good news to the spiritually poor.

We celebrate Word of God Sunday. Let us contemplate the decades of evolution we have lived through. Consider this, “Which is a growing mission? To go out and evangelize non-believers or to reach out to Christians who have been disconnected and are struggling to reclaim their faith?” Everything is always evolving. In that swirl, we as laity must continue to make mission relevant in the situation and environment we find ourselves in.

St Patrick’s Church, Mae Cheam, Northern Thailand

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our little parts in miracles

We all play a part in the miracles that happen in the life of family, friends and even strangers. We can if we want to. Are miracles rare? Changing water into wine is. But the Epiphany, the revelation of God in our life, isn’t. It happens all the time, every moment, and is most visible in acts of love, in mercy and compassion. God’s presence amidst us is no less a miracle, and we are invited not only to see for ourselves, but to also let others see, through our acts in life.

“Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’ They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine.” (Sunday’s Gospel)

We each have a God-given role in life. Often this role is a selfless role. It helps others, the community around us. Our role is often not spectacular. God does not call us to do very difficult things. Often, they are simple ordinary roles, maybe seemingly insignificant to us, without that attention-giving glory, so small that we tend not to bother for it being not worthy of our time and attention. But it is in community, the people around us, where we see the perpetual miracle of God revealing himself to us. This pandemic has repeatedly taught us that we are all in this together.

“There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.” (Sunday’s second reading)

Our role for a good purpose is often as simple as that of the servants to fill up the jars with water, a skill not beyond us. In the story, Mary was the intercessor who did not know how it would happen. The steward, like us many times, unknowing that he was part of a miracle. We are never called to work alone but always as part of a community, each with a different part, but the sum of all parts is the miracle of God revealing himself.

Last Wednesday, the reading was about God calling Samuel. We too are called every day to play a part in the miracles of life. To understand our roles, a friend in our community shared an excerpt from the reflection of the Word Among Us for that day.

“The calling of Samuel reminds us that we aren’t alone in our efforts to understand God’s call. He gives us brothers and sisters in Christ who can use their different gifts to help us hear and accept it. That means that none of us individually needs to try and discern God’s will for our lives on our own. God has united us as a body of believers, some of whom are meant to accompany and guide us on our faith journey. The Lord works through these friends, spiritual directors, and confessors to help us to “see” so that we can know and follow his will for every season of our lives.

So, if you are trying to discover what God might be saying to you, you may get clarity through the help and prayers of another believer. Sometimes God wants us to rely on others just so that we can have more confidence in his direction and guidance. Not only that, but he uses these opportunities to knit us closer to one another.”

At mass this Sunday, our homilist shared that in the liturgical cycle, this gospel of the wedding feast at Cana is the third epiphany, the revealing of God. He invited us to reflect on our life with these questions, “How do we reveal God? What sort of God do we want to reveal in reality? And what do we want to present to our world as the epiphany of God?

We are invited to allow for the passage of miracles through our life, and when we do so, our ordinary becomes spectacular, our water becomes wine.

At the church in Holy Land, where the miracle of the wedding feast took place. It is believed that jars such as this were used in Jesus’ time. A lot of good wine!

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

In water and Spirit

Today is the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. It marks the end of the liturgical Christmas season and Jesus prepares to enter his public ministry. Today’s feast must also remind us about our own baptism. I once remarked to a well-respected priest, “Though the mass is always full, there are many whose faces are blank, like they wished they were somewhere else”. To which he replied, “What you must admire is that these people keep coming back every week. Why? Because there is untold strength and power in baptism being a sacrament”.

There have always been questions about our obligatory Sunday mass. It should be our free choice; ‘we come when we want’. This pandemic may have given us some answers. Some of us felt a sense of loss when masses were no longer public. After which we embraced online masses with a lot of enthusiasm but after going on for a year, we found we are no longer disciplined. Now, we can go back for mass, but some find it difficult to. Being human, we will always need a push, sometimes even regimented for our own good.

When we are baptised, we embraced our identity as a child of God. In this identity is the adoption of a belief; we believe in the doctrines and the Christian expression of life. This ‘expression’ is our own public ministry. We are missioned to bring Christmas, this presence of God coming amidst human life, into our everyday life with others. In this identity, in our belief, there must be responsibilities. Here in them, our free choice must always cooperate with God’s will.

We are called, obliged to come for Sunday mass for our own good. It is not an attendance list where if we fail, we are chalked off into the fire of everlasting damnation. Each Sunday we enter the mass as equals, regardless of what status we hold in the outside world, reminded by our baptism that we are a child of God. Here we regroup, recalibrate our spirituality that has taken a bashing in our worldly life. We reconcile with one another and with God, listen to the Word of Wisdom, and eat the Body and Blood in the Sacrament to renew our strength, to be recharge and be sent (ite missa est) back into the world.

Sunday mass is a point of return, to re-embrace our baptismal identity, whether after a week or a lifetime. When we drifted away, this is the most identifiable, tangible point of return. Returning Catholics, those who have been away from their faith life, see this as a reference point. What they cannot see and may not know, if it is not pointed out to them, is the undertow in their spiritual identity as a Child of God, a pulling force that in time bring them back home.

I had the privilege to encounter a woman in her 70s, a Catholic who had been away for more than 30 years. Her children were all active in other Christian denominations, one even a pastor. She had been living much of her ‘public ministry’ admirably with her children. She said to me, “It is time to come back”. “Why?” I asked, as she had known and celebrated God in her life. To which she replied, “I was baptised in the Catholic Church, and into her I must return”.

The grace of our baptism; its untold strength and power.

Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord 2022

Gratitude, the game changer

A new year has begun, and familiar anxieties have set in. These ‘usual blues’ are now compounded by Omicron. Gone are my days of innocence when a new year bring fresh hope and joy. I supposed I am not the only one. ‘What gifts will this year bring?’ Someone reminded me over our festive celebrations to feast on gratitude.

Gratitude can be our game changer. It can be the star that rises above every gift we crave for in life. Gratitude can be our guiding star. Over every Christmas season, we are not promised gifts of earthly riches but of love, peace, joy, and hope. Having experience life with its sting in its tail, these are lasting gifts. They last because over time, they evolve to become inner calm and contentment; fool-proof gifts that protect us from our anxieties in life.

Gratitude helps to uncover the many unseen blessings in our life however wretched we may think life to be. Gratitude breeds contentment. Life is allowed to turn sour when we keep chasing in the dark for what we desperately want, or think we need that will make us happy. Feast on gratitude, she said, by spending time in meditation. ‘Who’ we already are will shine light on the darkness of our desires and fears.

Part of anxiety is fear. Fear is being afraid of something bad that may happen to us. Anxiety displaces us from our here and now. It pushes us into a tomorrow that is yet to happen. Often that fearful tomorrow never comes. I have been through many anxieties, many Monday and New Year blues, but looking back hardly any became the frightening monster it threatened to become. Contemplating, sitting in the here and now helps.

It is in the here and now that love is felt, peace found, and joy experienced. In them hope arises to replace fears. The presence of the Infant Child can only be encountered and felt in the present. It is not for yesterday or tomorrow. God is “I AM” present in the here and now. Gratitude can be the antidote to anxieties.

These gifts have been brought to all of us by the Infant Child, to believers and non-believers in equal portions. Here in non-Christian Thailand, it is nice to see so many people celebrate the joys of Christmas especially in its tradition of bearing gifts to one another. It is in our relationships with one another where these gifts are manifested.

The past week of Christmas and New Year celebrations allowed us to situate ourselves in the here and now. In that week of festivities and cheers, few wanted to dwell in the past or worry about the future. We were all just filled with gratitude.

And gratitude must be the star to lead us on our journey in life, our journey of faith like that of the wise men. The festive cheers have toned down, but we must continue to feast on gratitude.

“A silent wish sails the seven seas. The winds of change whisper in the trees. And the walls of doubt crumble, tossed and torn. This comes to pass when a Child is born.”

The Epiphany of our Lord and New Year 2022

Gradual Revelation

Christmas is here. Yet again. When the first Christmas came along, the Old Testament became New Testament. Salvation history took a twist; our idea of who God is radically changed. Since that first time, Christmas never left us. We all accumulate our own personal history as we march through life. At some point during our history, we encountered Christ, our own personal idea of God changed. That would have been our own first Christmas.

I like to watch the sun rising. The sun gradually reveals itself. Darkness becomes light. Like the cycle of a day, the lights do sometimes go out of our life even when we have found God. But like the sun the following morning, light will again rise above darkness. This will go on throughout our life but with each sunrise, we gradually know God better.

We are always tempted to try different paths in life, sometimes we even choose to go solo without God. At each cul-de-sac, we gradually learn about our God. From our human point of view, God is gradually revealing himself to us.

Does God hold back to reveal himself to us? No. He is Emmanuel, always in our midst. Christmas does not leave us. But we sometimes cannot see or feel him simply because of the circumstances or situations of life that we find ourselves in. We are human which is why on that first Christmas Day he became human like us. God is active in our midst, working hard to make us see Him. He came down on Earth with the sole purpose to draw us closer to Him.

We sometimes cannot see God, like the sun hidden behind storm clouds. Maybe it is happening more these days with changing lifestyles that take us further away from any religion. It seems God must work hard to stay relevant for us. Our worldly life is dynamic, always modernising and high tech, human expressions constantly evolving to the extent that the world wants to leave God behind to progress on. We, humanity, have always done that since the Old Testament, throughout our salvation history. But He keeps coming back for us.

The world is always evolving. It must. As persons, we adjust and adapt. We try to keep up with the changes. We need to. But often we get lost. Christmas has come around once again to remind us that God accompanies us through all these changes. He is amidst these evolutions. He is not losing control. There is only one thing that never changed throughout history and that is God’s Love. It is the one constant. What changed are expressions of God and his love. Our God is never old fashioned or conservative. We must find new ways in our life, new expressions to uncover him from behind our clouds. He is waiting to be revealed.

Every sunrise brings on a new day and with it love, mercies and graces are new again. God is always in our midst. Christmas never went away. As we move anxiously on, into a new year amidst the pandemic, we remind ourselves that it all began in that humble stable in Bethlehem. Today, and tomorrow, in the here and now, it continues in the humble stable of our hearts. That is where we carry Christmas on our daily journey and that is where God will reveal himself to us. May that sun in us rise above the clouds. Merry Christmas.

Christmas 2021

Sweet innocence

I had the joy of encountering this young child on my travels this week. Together with her kid brother, they were making themselves a mobile phone each. Cut to size from cardboard, they drew the dial pad on paper and gummed it on. They were happy with their new phones. It was a great moment of my here and now to share in their joy. Such sweet innocence.

The face of this child became my Advent image. My heart wandered momentarily away from that moment feeling a sense of pity for them, “if only they can have more”. “More of what?”, I asked myself. By what, and whose standard am I gauging their happiness that I should have the gall to feel sorry for them? They were already in their bubble of perfect happiness. Wishing they had more was like pricking and bursting their bubble of joy.

As adults our bubbles of this sort have long burst. We do not remain a child forever. We grow into responsibilities, and with them come challenges. “Too many” most of us would say for a lifetime. Ideals give way to being practical. Being sweetly innocent may result in being left behind by the world. Our emotional journey in life can take us up mountains of hardships and down valleys of depression. Or they can take us up beautiful mountains of joy and down into serene valleys of peace.

“I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near. There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.” (Today’s second reading)

So, Christmas is very near. Adults and children approach Christmas very differently. As adults, we also see the practical side and are concern with cost. As tired adults, after yet another tough year, we see it as an excuse for a year end bash. As anxious adults, before we even celebrate Christmas, our minds are already cast into another new year of work and performance. But Christmas does offer all of us something different. The gift is there for everyone, but we must each unpack the gift.

Christmas is real. For some it may only be a moment of joy. For others a day or even a week. But the spiritual reality is a lifetime of joy. Our celebrations can take us far away from the true meaning of Christmas, or it can lead us to the deep depths of what this gift really is. Emmanuel, the Lord is very near, God is in our midst.

We believe. But a declaration of belief isn’t quite enough to feel and see this spiritual reality of a lifetime of joy. We must grow in this belief like a child grows into an adult through the mountains and valleys of our earthly journey.

Christmas comes around once a year to invite us into a spiritual bubble that will help and protect us as we travel through life. To enter this bubble, we must humble ourselves to have the sweet innocence to allow God to be our God.

3rd Sunday of Advent

Two kingdoms, two worlds

Today we celebrate a new liturgical year. Last Sunday we were closing the old year with the celebration of Christ the King. Jesus answered Pilate, “Mine is not a kingdom of this world”. Yet often we hear that the “kingdom of God is in our midst”. Today is the first day of Advent, a season to prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus into our midst. Lurking in the dark recess is Omicron. Good and bad. Two kingdoms, two worlds.

How do we make sense of this? One of the greatest challenges to our Christian faith is the existence of suffering. If God exists, and is a God of Love, why is there suffering? In this world we live in, suffering inevitably exists. In the kingdom that is promised us, every tear will be wiped away. When we want to build kingdoms for “myself” at the expense of others, we deny the establishment of a world where love is the answer. Two kingdoms, two worlds; riches of the earth versus treasures in heaven.

St Paul to the Thessalonians, “May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race. We urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. (Second Reading)

God has allowed this pandemic, and with it the sufferings that come with it. The beginnings of this pandemic and its subsequent spread is a consequence of human action. This is not a debate of what we should or should not have done. That is beyond me, or us as single human individuals. This is just about acknowledging that every single person has the complete freedom to choose to do what he or she wants. Whatever we do has a knock-on effect on the other person. But as single, human individual person it is not beyond us to choose to love one another and the whole human race.

In Advent, we are preparing for the coming of Christ into our choices and subsequent actions. Sufferings can be alleviated by love. We dare say that some sufferings can be avoided if there was love, the love for the other not that love for self. This kingdom is in our midst, and near at hand. Advent is this preparation to let this kingdom come into our world.

St Paul to the Thessalonians continued, “You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus”.

A new liturgical year arrive with a fresh cycle of scripture readings. Instructions on the authority of Christ the King. Instructions we must allow into the use of our freedom, to come into the small and simple acts of our daily life. We are human and we progress by taking small steps. This Advent is a preparation for Christmas. Let this Christmas define our whole year ahead, so we can make the choice to allow the Word amongst us to come alive in our little actions, where love will comfort suffering, allowing the kingdom into our world.

What menace will Omicron turn out to be for our world? What kingdoms will it destroy? We do not know. We only have the power to love. But it is enough to build a kingdom that is not of this world.

1st Sunday of Advent

Life has no straight roads

Today’s mass readings are about what happens at the end of the road. The readings came alive as I travelled this week from Mae Sot to Umphang. Route 1090 is nicknamed “the death highway”. A long stretch ascends into the mountains where for 114 km of it there are 1219 bends, curving to the left and the right. Just like our life, there are no straight roads.

“Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace.” (First Reading)

This pandemic has taught me to appreciate road trips as arriving at destinations do have a different emotional feel. It’s the wisdom that the journey changes us by the time we arrive, for in our belief there is a fork at end of the road of our earthly life either to everlasting life or disgrace.  

Route 1090 took me up and took me down. The road was also slipping sideways. At stretches the view was breath taking, but most of it was mundane and arduous, curving and cutting through the thick rainforest. The road was narrow, and the mountain bends did not permit me to see what was further ahead. I knew my destination but not my journey. Death beckons all but how will we reach it?

Last weekend I was privileged to be at a retreat for returning Catholics. There I heard many different life stories. Like the road, things can suddenly change around the next bend. Some heard the call to return at the low points in life, few at the highs and others during the mundane grind of daily life where they wondered about life’s meaning. But all had a common realisation that God is faithfully present with us along the entire journey. At each bend he beckons us closer. If we ignore the call he will be at the next, 1219 and more till we respond.

At the end of route 1090, a trek through the rainforest awaited me. It was advertised that it would take 2 hours, but I realigned my expectation that it would take me 3. In painful reality, it took me 5 but the reward at the end was worth every ounce of energy. I had never before exhausted my physical energy for an event. Here in that last hour, and in darkness as well, I was on the Spirit that formed my mind.

When the trek was uphill, I did not want to see how much higher was the climb. I just focus on my next step but I found myself mumbling the Hail Mary every time it went uphill. My mortality was in better perspective. Like suffering in life, we don’t know how long it will last but prayers help us to the top of the hill. Sometimes it is even a false top as round the bend we see a steeper slope. Such is life.

As the trek when downhill, I felt pain in my old crumbling knees. I was alive to the very present as the pain would not allow me to wander elsewhere. In life at our lowest points, when we cannot see anyone but our own self, we must know that God is there present. It was on the flats that my mind wandered and was distracted by the heaven of a cold beer at the end of the trek. The mundane happenings in our life can drift us away from God. Until we find meaning.

There are no straight roads in life. The better prepared we are for the road trip, the better people we become arriving at the fork. Along the way, like today’s scripture readings were to me, the Word is amongst us.

Route 1090 – the Death Highway

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time