Happy Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time!
I’ve struggled with a phenomenon lately. A force of nature, really… Something that vexes even the most prolific of writers and composers and creatives from time to time. The reason these reflections have been so late recently…
You might think that I’m never at a loss for words (no comments from the peanut gallery, please). But lately, I’ve felt completely depleted. Like a car out of gas, a dead battery, or an empty, withered balloon. I’m just too pooped to pop! If you know me at all you’ll know it’s true that there are many reasons I’ve gotten to this point. I could easily go in to them, and at length, but they don’t really matter as much as the fact that it’s where I am now – and where do I go from here?
I would love to ask God to give me a Gas-Station for my heart.
wait… why don’t I?
Today’s Gospel (Luke 4:38-44) picks just as Jesus had started his public ministry. It was so fresh and new that Peter wasn’t even called Peter yet! Jesus cures Simon’s (Peter’s) mother-in-law, after which she immediately got up and served them. This was a catalyst because when the people heard about it, they brought all their sick and afflicted to him for healing. Laying his hands on each of them, he cured them all. After working all night long, he tried to retreat to a deserted place so he could pray and rest… but they followed him. The crowds went looking for him. He said, “To the other towns also must I go…for this purpose I have been sent.” Jesus was sent to go to all people.
The people there had never seen nor heard of such amazing things being done, and they were just awestruck! And what a contrast from the people in his hometown who couldn’t believe what was coming out of the mouth of the Carpenter’s Son, and so took him up to a mountain “so that they could throw him down headlong.” (see Luke 4:16-30)
And now they’re in full view of a new image of God: one who lives among them, in reach and findable. He’s completely inclusive, fully healing, totally understanding, and ridiculously accessible… all we have to do is ask!
Jesus went to a deserted place so that he might find time to be alone with God. Do we do the same? When was the last time you created a moment of quiet so that God might come to meet with you?
We need our moments of stillness to reflect and pray – to anchor ourselves and to allow God to fill us with his great love – so much love that we are an overflowing cup, spilling out love on all the friends who are suffering… And in this way, we can bring them to Jesus — and bring Jesus to them.
Today, in a moment of desperate frustration with myself, I put everything down, shut everything off, sat alone, and reserved time to call out to God for a meeting… and there he was, whispering, “I am here, beloved. Let me fill you up.”
So I challenge you to give it a shot. Feeling tired and used up? Take a moment and put your devices away. Find your Spazio Sacro (sacred space), and meet the God who loves you there… and let your heart free to soar.
please allow me to come to you,
for I am tired and burdened from my labor.
Give me rest (Matthew 11:28).
Lead me by the still waters,
and let me lie down in green pastures.
Refresh my weary soul.
Fill my cup to overflowing, (Psalm 23)
so that, like Peter’s mother-in-law,
I can rise from my affliction and have all I need
to share your great love with everyone I meet. Amen.
Peace and love to you all today, and forever.
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.