Responsorial Psalm 67
John 12:24-13: 5a
"Jesus cried out and said, I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. " (John 12 :46)
Remember the incident of Jesus with the disciples when He spoke to them of his future: "He began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised." Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are not thinking as God does, but as human beings do." (Matthew: 16: 21-23)
Jesus‘ words are very clear. It is interesting that these very words of Jesus predicting His passion and death would come to mind as I read those words of His referring to …"I came into this world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness." We all need light to see the whole picture of life which includes a loving Jesus who would never dream of abandoning you or me. Sickness can be a veil of darkness if we let it.
I have as part of my priestly ministry to celebrate Mass and anoint the sick at several Nursing Homes. I don’t begin to vest for Mass without first going to each person and giving them a "hello" and "I’m so glad you are here with us this morning!" It is such a delight to see them smile and return the greeting. Mind you, most of them are in wheel chairs. I will kid with them during my homilies. Most of all I try in different ways to let them know that they are loved at this time in their lives. One of my favorite reminders is: You are loved for who you are. Many of us see our worth in what we can do.Family members still remind them about their great gifts and talents. Darkness could block out those gifts simply because they can’t do those things anymore. Well, who says that that means they are bankrupt. Oh, how precious is their gift of "thanks" for the many kindnesses shown them by family and fellow friends in the Nursing Home, along with the staff, the doctors and nurses and even the priest who loves to celebrate with them.
I’ve shared with them some of my limitations now, too. I love watching tennis on T.V. But I have to admit it was a sad day a number of years ago when I had to give up my own tennis racquet. I laugh now as I can recall when during a tennis match my eyes told me when and where to get over quickly to a spot to hit the tennis ball, but my legs simply said, "Huh…?"I used to be so proud that I was in good health and needed no pills. Hmm, now I think I keep a few pharmaceutical companies in business at this time in my life.
Where can Jesus bring you light to overcome your darkness? Do you find yourself looking back at the "good ole days" when you were able to do so much and were in control? Are you finding peace in being loved at this very moment for who you are?
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is on the staff of Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, Houston, Texas.