“Stay awake, for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Matthew 24:42-51
Some years ago I had cause to plead with God – to beg for something… anything that would help me. Sure, every single day I’m in need. And if I were a betting man I’d bet that you also feel the same way. But on this particular day, I was slapped in the face with a horror I could never have imagined, and certainly didn’t want. It doesn’t really matter what it was, but it was there… palpable and intense, just like yours.
So there I was. Despondent. Eventually I found myself in the sanctuary, sitting alone and staring at the tabernacle, crying and not knowing what to do next. Completely alone, completely isolated, completely broken. I yelled, “Why? God, are you even there?”
And then it happened.
In a voice as clear as someone sitting uncomfortably close to me, I heard “Well, Paul, I had to get your attention SOME-how.”
I looked to my left immediately, but the church was completely empty. It took a few moments, but it dawned on me that I had heard the voice of God right next to me. It was as though Jesus had to beat me over the head with a huge stick just so I would be able to recognize that he was there.
Our Gospel today speaks to us about the coming of the Lord at the end of times, and that we should be watchful and ready. For me, I need this reminder every single day! And it’s not just about the end-of-times… it’s about finding God in every moment, in every person, in every experience. Jesus walks with us in every step and in every occasion, whether we like it or not. God is always there, pursuing us. In our strength and in our sorrow. In our joy and in our pain. In our standing and in our hiding. In the profound and the profane. In the extraordinary and the ordinary.
We know not the day, nor the hour. But if we seek, and remain open to the call of the Most Holy One, maybe – just maybe – we’ll be able to be hit in the head with the care and call of God, our savior! I want that again… and I pray that you, too, will feel the call and presence of The One who loves us at all times, without exception.
So where does God find you? Is it always in the good? Is it ever in the bad?
Could it be loss from theft?
Maybe a car accident?
A diagnosis you just didn’t want to hear?
Could it have been The Call from a loved one’s doctor?
Perhaps discovering infidelities from the one person you should have been able to trust most deeply?
Could it be the horror and regret of the mistakes of your past?
God is there.
God is with you… especially when you least expect it.
Let’s do this together. Look around and see… open your eyes, your ears, your heart. A tree. A flower. A bird. A song. A weed. A phone call. A broken bone. A chance meeting. A stranger appearing at the exact right moment. A person saying, “I love you.”
That’s God, coming for you. Wanting you. Holding you in the amazing expanse of his most holy arms.
I don’t know when it’ll happen. Who knows but God? But God does know, and all we have to do is keep our eyes peeled, and be open, be ready, be waiting. Even in our darkest moment, it’s never too late to know and feel God’s loving presence.
So where is God in your life right now?
Who is Jesus using to reach you, to walk with you?
Or, could it be that God is in you, acting though you, to reach out to another?
Dear God of all creation, thank you for the gift of your most amazing presence in all things. Please, grant us the faith to see you, to call for you, to reach for you, and to know your healing – in your perfect way, in your perfect time. … thy will be done. Amen.
Paul Puccinelli is Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Rita Parish in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the Retreat-Team at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center.