“I lift my eyes to the hills
– where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
For two years nothing happened, not even a sign that is was coming off the ground. All I could see was a pathetic, brown stalk that seemed decaying. I was tempted to pull it out every time I walked by it, but somehow a voice always prevented me. So I left it alone.
One day, a few months ago, I noticed it springing out of the earth with a fresh green, healthy-looking trunk and soon, large leaves were unfolding! And as I write this article, an offshoot (baby/pup) is coming along strongly too.
What a mighty lesson! Often in life, it is easy to pass judgement and deem something or someone as dead, lifeless, hopeless. It must have been the same for Jesus in the tomb. It is indeed a sad day. Good Friday is the only day of the year during which the celebration of Mass is forbidden. It is the day Jesus redeemed us from our sins by the voluntary death of God Himself at the hands of man.
But Good Friday is followed by Easter Sunday – Jesus Christ’s victory over death. His resurrection symbolises the eternal life that is granted to all who believe in Him.
April is dedicated in the Catholic calendar for 2018 as the month of the Resurrection. It is a symbolic reminder that Jesus has overcome death and sin, and marks the victory of good over evil. “He is risen indeed!” It reminds us that Jesus is alive and in our midst and He welcomes us in a new life with Him.
Do you have a situation in life that seems lifeless at present? Have you been praying for a loved one for years but who is not showing any positive change so far? Have you been battling with an illness that is taking such a long time to heal or be cured? Do you have a relationship you want sorted out and have been waiting for forgiveness and reconciliation? Do you long for new life and desire to overcome deep-seated addictions or negative behaviour?
I have a devotional book I read every day, inspired by St Philip Neri’s love for the Holy Spirit. In one of the chapters, where St Thomas was also mentioned, the fruit of patience, (also called long-suffering) is further explored. Each, it says, refers to the ability of the mind not to be disturbed. Patience, properly so called, endures when evil threatens; long-suffering perseveres when good things are delayed.
Patience is necessary in the midst of physical suffering. That is why in hospitals we are called patients. We are asked to bear the discomforts, the inconveniences, the waiting or the tribulations due to the loss of some of our freedom. We are in the hands of other people. It is a desert place. “If used well and with meaning, our afflictions, appear bitter at first but grow sweet when one gets accustomed to the taste and leads us to an eminent degree of spirituality.” (Fr Philip Bochanski)
It took ten years for me to be healed of daily dizziness. It was an annoying condition that bothered me all day and all night. Like St Paul, I prayed hard (thorn in the flesh) for the Lord to remove it. But He did not do it overnight. It took many years until I learned the significance of it – total dependence on the Lord for everything, even my daily mobility! And now I truly appreciate what it means to be humble before the Lord. I cannot do things without His protection, strength, guidance and approval.
These days I am struggling with my eyes. What is the Lord telling me? Repentance from lust at looking at the world? Jealousy? Envy? Restless eyes and wanton shopping? Have I removed my gaze from Jesus and gone back to serving my ministry in my own strength? Have I been haughty and arrogant in my relationships with others? Have I forgotten to look at the Lord as my Helper? Does the Lord want me to take my eyes off myself and stop seeking approval from others? Indeed so many things to reflect on.
I have seen my optometrist a few times for this eye condition. Nothing seems to be medically sinister. I have a deep knowing that the Lord wants me to look at my eyes spiritually then. It is a tough call and hard work, but healing and freedom from our bondage needs our cooperation – repentance, confession of sins, atonement, renewal and transformation. It needs more than a desire to change; it needs action.
In James 5:7-8, we are encouraged: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”