Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus is amazed at a Roman centurion’s faith: “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” How often the Bible compels us to meditate on the meaning of faith! We might say that the Scriptures rest upon faith, remain inspired at every turn by the spirit of faith.
Faith is an attitude of trust in the presence of God. Faith is openness to what God will reveal, do, and invite. It should be obvious that, in dealing with the infinite, all-powerful person who is God, we are never in control.
One of the most fundamental statements of faith is this: your life is not about you. You’re not in control. This is not your project. Rather, you are part of God’s great design. To believe this in your bones and act accordingly is to have faith. When we operate out of this transformed vision, amazing things can happen, for we have surrendered to “a power already at work in us that can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” Even a tiny bit of faith makes an extraordinary difference.
If you want to be a successful painter, you will at first fail on numerous canvases. And if you want to be a successful mathematician, you will at first fail in solving the equations. If you want to be a successful writer, your manuscripts will be rejected endlessly until one of them isn’t. But there will never come a point when you stop failing, because that’s what creativity is about. What works can only be known against the backdrop of what doesn’t—and if you’re too afraid to ever risk establishing that backdrop, personally and professionally, then you’ll never know what success is like. In the Hebrew Bible, we have the beautiful images in Jeremiah, for example, in the potter’s house where he comes to understand that even as Israel screws everything up over and over again, God—like a potter with clay in hand—is patient and allows the remodeling to take place, allows us to try again, to become the beautiful creation intended from the beginning. If we cannot live because we fear failure, then we cannot be good Christians because it is a faith predicated on being often diametrically opposed to worldly success. If you want to be successful, you need to learn to fail well.
—from the book God Is Not Fair, and Other Reasons for Gratitude by Daniel P. Horan, OFM
I thought I’d share what happened to me this evening. After my AA meeting, I stopped at a convenience store. As I got out of my car and began to walk in I heard someone say something to me. I looked to my left and there sat a woman on the bench outside. I looked at the woman and said “pardon me”. She asked how I was. I told her that I was doing fine and asked how she was. I’ll begin by describing this woman to you. She was heavy set, disheveled, a tad dirty and was missing many of her teeth. My heart sank when I saw her. Oddly I hadn’t even noticed her when I parked my car in front of the store. Nor did I notice her as I got out of my car.
She went on to tell me she had just left the hospital. Apparently she had an asthma attack. She told me her story and I just listened. My heart really went out to her. I told her that I hoped she would get better. Before I turned around to walk in the store, I noticed a Hispanic man walking toward the store. He opened the door for me. I couldn’t help but notice he was wearing a beautiful cross rosary around his neck. I got my things and walked up to the counter. The man was in line behind me. I asked the clerk if she knew if the woman outside was homeless. She wasn’t sure but said she comes around a lot. I told the clerk I felt sorry for that woman and wanted to buy her something to eat. The clerk was a little taken aback. I had several people behind me waiting to pay. I just explained that I wanted to buy the woman something to eat if she was homeless which is why I was inquiring. The clerk shared she didn’t really know but what she did know is often the woman would sit outside until she had enough money to buy a pack of cigarettes. I told the clerk I wasn’t willing to buy cigarettes but was happy to buy whatever food they had in their deli case. She handed me a pizza pocket. The man wearing the cross rosary said “Maam.maam” I turned around thinking he might be irritated because I was holding up the line. Instead he said “Maam that is a really nice thing for you to do. I wish I could help her too” he showed me the money he had in his hand. It was only enough to get fuel.
I paid the clerk however I was surprised that she didn’t even charge me for the pizza pocket. I took the pizza pocket and walked outside and handed it to the woman. She told me she was trying to figure out how she was going to eat this week. Wow. My heart sank again. I felt the tears build up. I simply said “well for now you don’t have to worry. You now have something to eat.” She was very grateful.
I’m sharing not for accolades, rather to share how God uses people to make a difference. He also can use one person to touch the lives of many. That homeless woman touched my heart. I felt inclined to buy her food. The man wearing the cross rosary was touched by my act of kindness. The clerks heart was open too. She didn’t charge me for the food. In short, each of our lives was touched by a woman who was sitting on a bench and had the courage to say hi despite her circumstances. I’m not sure what the miracle was but for me it was awesome to help someone but at the same time fill the hearts of others.
The last 24 hours have been rather challenging for me. In truth, there’s a part of my heart that’s broken. However, I’ve been praying really hard for strength and healing. Sometimes life throws us curveballs that aren’t necessarily comfortable. Despite it all we still have to keep moving.
Tonight I was on my way home from a meeting. I looked toward the Cascade Mountains and found myself in awe when I saw this beautiful sunset. It reminded me of the words Father Michael once told during one of his homilies at St Dominic’s in San Francisco.
Father Michael shared that when things in our life aren’t going as planned it’s important to remind ourselves “Something Wonderful Is About To Happen”. As I looked at this sunset and took these photos those words that I have held close to my heart for several years came to mind reminding me “Something Wonderful Is About To Happen”. I can’t say for sure that something wonderful is about to happen but what I do know is God really does exist. Maybe this sunset that took my breath away was just a reminder that no matter the circumstances he’s with me and everything is going to be ok. I hope so any way
St. Catherine of Siena
Today is the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena, patroness of Italy (and Europe in general) and fire prevention, and one of the Church’s most beloved saints.
“Though she lived her life in a faith experience and spirituality far different from that of our own time, Catherine of Siena stands as a companion with us on the Christian journey in her undivided effort to invite the Lord to take flesh in her own life. Events which might make us wince or chuckle or even yawn fill her biographies: a mystical experience at six, childhood betrothal to Christ, stories of harsh asceticism, her frequent ecstatic visions. Still, Catherine lived in an age which did not know the rapid change of 21st-century mobile America. The value of her life for us today lies in her recognition of holiness as a goal to be sought over the course of a lifetime.”
–commentary from Saint of the Day
This is so true. I’ll never forget when I was in San Francisco. My ex had been so awful. To the point I cried profusely. I left the house and went to my church and prayed at the altar. On the way home I was angry at God. Even yelling at him. I stopped at a convenience store before going back home. As I walked in, an older man walked in behind me. As we walked towards the back he suddenly said “I want you to know God heard you tonight”. I looked at him and said “excuse me”. He said “God saw who hurt you tonight and made you cry. He wants you to know he will deal with him but he also wants you to know he has a plan for you. Everything is going to be alright”. I was so taken aback. He told me God had a plan for me. He said don’t worry about the person who hurt you. God will deal with him but as for you he has a plan and everything is going to be ok. I began to cry. This stranger put one arm around me and raised his other arm in the air and said “St Catherine of Sienna I ask you to intercede for this woman tonight. May you offer her the same gift you offered me years ago!” I looked at him and asked “Are you Catholic?” He answered “we are all Catholic”. He went on to share a story when he was in Europe and was down and out. He prayed even praying to St. Catherine of Sienna asking her to pray for him. A miracle happened. He prayed that I too would receive the same gift of a miracle he received that time.
Now you might wonder who this man was. I have no idea. He was just a business man who was lost in the city. He had google map on his iPad and wanted to ask the store clerk questions. Before he left he said “I’m so glad I walked in here tonight. God bless you.” He walked out and got in to his Mercedes and drove away.
I probably will never forget this night. They say God speaks to you through people. I have always been grateful he spoke to me through a stranger that night.
Most of us aren’t likely to betray anyone to a death squad. But as we meditate on the events of the Passion, we might reﬂect on the times we’ve betrayed a trust, the times we’ve talked about someone behind their back, the times we’ve stayed silent when a friend has been ridiculed. Resolve to keep silent when tempted to gossip and to speak out when others are gossiping. That sounds like a challenge, doesn’t it? It is. Pray for the grace to meet it.
—from the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek