Happy Thursday in the Fourth Week of Lent!
It’s not rare that I tell the pupils in my private studio that, no matter what, I can help them get better. I don’t know how much it actually has to do with me and my abilities, but one thing’s for sure — I know I can guide them on a path which, if they do the work, will absolutely make them better musicians.
But, again, even though it’s often very hard, they have to do the work.
It’s not unlike when we become sick. We go to the doctor and, to help us become well again, she’ll likely write a prescription. But if we don’t take the medicine she recommends, we won’t get better. Sure — the pills may be bitter and hard to swallow, but in the end, our good health becomes a very tasty meal.
But again, even though it’s hard, we still have to do our part.
In today’s Gospel (John 5:31-47), Jesus says, “But, you do not want to come to me to have life.”
How often have we, in our humanness, ignored Jesus and attempted to do all things on our own? How many of us search for something which will fill an emptiness in our hearts? I do. If I’m going to be completely honest, I have to admit that way too often I’ve searched and focused on things which fail to satisfy… It seems to be a human condition, because so many look for joy from things that can never, ever fill us up.
Wars are fought because people want something… land, control, whatever… Relationships are destroyed because of greedy desire and those who decide it’s ok to act on it. People drop into the depths of despair and addiction, looking for something they don’t have, which could be spiritual, emotional, or tangible.
But Jesus says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33, NLT)
I’ll be the first to admit that, from time to time, I’ve found myself ignoring God when things are going well. But when something happens that’s not good — BAM — I start to pray. I suspect that it’s safe to say that there are many people who will turn to prayer only when something’s gone wrong, or someone is ill, or is in need.
But I’ll also be the first to admit that when I keep a strong, connected relationship with Jesus through prayer, it keeps me grounded when the storms do arise. It helps me to act as a better person, to forgive, to love. Rising from whatever tomb I find myself in at the moment isn’t nearly as impossible as it seems when I let Jesus guide me through what have been the toughest times of my life.
He carries us when we cannot walk.
I know how busy we all are. Believe me. But there are so many opportunities we might overlook… What about driving in traffic, or perhaps while we do our work? What about praying before our meal in a restaurant, even though everyone can see? Even pulling weeds or doing our laundry can be beautiful if we can remember we are accompanied by Christ in every step.
We are never alone.
Dear Jesus, hold our hand.
Show us the true path to you…
to life — to love. 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.