Story Tellers of the Happy Ending
We are finishing one of the most beautiful stories of the Old Testament, the story of Tobit. Well crafted, we have a love story, one of human suffering and hopeless as well as human goodness, and the happiest of endings! We can make the story one that speaks of ourselves. We are Tobits trying to do good, our laments are his and Sarah’s, and our hope is their happy ending.
The story also belongs to the Chosen People. The People of Israel seeing themselves during the Assyrian exile becomes their story when they were challenged to keep the law of Moses that could violate the laws of their captors – as removing a body left on display in the market place as part of the death sentence, and removing one being a serious offense. The exile was a true suffering, did God hear their unceasing prayer? Could they, the People of the Covenant, again experience the joys of Tobias and Sarah who amidst unspeakable misfortune find joy in their marriage covenant.
Like the Book of Tobit, we conclude our yearly reading of Mark’s gospel this week. Our reading ends before the Passion, but what we are reading is associated with the approaching Passion. It is in Mark’s Passion as Jesus dies on the Cross that we hear his words of great lament, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”. Today’s reading gives us a proclamation of Jesus as Lord. His true identity that will be revealed as Jesus enters into the mystery of the Cross, his passion and death, when the Roman Centurion proclaims, ’Truly this man was the Son of God’.
We delight in stories, especially love stories. Truly, every story partakes in the Love Story of God for us. The story of Pentecost continues among us as Church, a pilgrim people, in the world but not of the world; exiles in a sense as we await a new more permanent dwelling not made of human hands. As a Church we carry with us and share the victory of God’s love. We are people of hope and encouragement gifted by the spirit, and one with the Father through Jesus our Lord. In the story of life we continually want to be spoilers for those who do not know a happy ending. That is God’s gift, our vision and our goal.
In the Western Province of the Passionists today begins a ‘Chapter meeting’, a once every four years assembly of the vowed men, both brothers and priests, along with lay men and women who are part of the Passionist community, feeling drawn to the charism of St. Paul of Cross in prayer and sharing in its the ministry and work. Paul proclaimed as a preacher in the 18th century: the love and mercy of God made present among us through Jesus Passion and Death. He gathered companions to live a way of life to nourish growth in this charism and to empower them to share this in the Church.
A ‘Chapter meeting’ is always a significant event. Gathered are approximately 35 priests and brothers, and about 60 non-vowed men and women to listen to the spirit in their service to the pilgrim people, the Church, and to be enabled to bring hope and encouragement to the Tobits and Sarahs of today though the victory of the Cross.
Please, this week include our Passionist family in your daily prayers.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Jamaica, New York.