In Sunday’s Gospel Story (Mk 1:1-8) we hear,”Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths”, and “I am sending my messengers ahead of you”. Who are the messengers you are sending to help me prepare your way in my life here and now? If, maybe when, I come to know them, might I be surprised at who they are and where they are pointing me? Might I be afraid to go? Might I even resist?
I don’t think the stuff going on in my life is an accident, but you are involved in it. Is there something “we” are to do? From my own journey I know that sometimes I have had to leave the safety of what I knew and was comfortable with, to see the truth, to hear your voice, to find out what to do next. It as not been easy, but it has been fruitful and a matter of joy, and even recognition, when I came to where you were calling me. That I came across the “Wanderer Prayer” and it’s settings right after I prayed the Gospel Story about messengers and preparing your way this morning with all I’ve been thinking and all that is going on, to me is not an accident. I just wonder what you are calling me to. I kinda hope it isn’t much, but I gratefully accept whatever it is. Last time I felt this way was in the days leading up to my recent heart attack, but as it was happening and throughout the time in CICUs and ORs you were very real to me in every one and every thing as it all transpired, and we all laughed so much. You don’t happen in a vacuum.
I don’t ask, because I know I already have, and am most grateful for, your blessings as I wonder and wander in all this, which I’ve been doing for quite a while. If it becomes necessary, I ask the grace to leave what I have known but no longer believe, to go to a new place, or even build a new place, even a new home, if and when that is what it seems I have to do at a time maybe already here, maybe yet to come. I may be disaffected in what I see in the church management, the bishops, including locally, and the way they treat some people and ignore the Pope. I don’t know if I want to be part of something like that. Realistically, though, those things don’t affect me much. They’re just somebody else’s ideas. Is this sincere wondering or ego? I no longer believe many of the Mass Prayers. They are too complicated, and limiting, keep you at a distance, and are more about the church’s power and special place — if you want to go to God you have to go through us, because only we are right. I ask you to lead me to where I need to go, as you always have, from place to place. You’re teaching me a lot with the sadness of our cook Jean coming home to you, reminding me what it is to be with and help people by whatever means necessary, to live a healing relationship rooted in you, which seems not be what the institution wants, expects, or tolerates.
Yesterday I celebrated the Anointing of the Sick with a comatose patient who is actively dying, and has a DNR, as I do. Lots of energy there. I do not know the patient or his very nice family, while our Pastoral Minister does, and has a good pastoral relationship with them. Why can’t she anoint him, and others like him? I come into the room, “do my thing”, and leave so the family can get back to their saying good bye.
When I sat at my computer yesterday morning to write this I never expected things to go in this direction. Are you telling me something? As peaceful and calming as my heart attack while sitting in my car three weeks ago was, what if I hadn’t popped the nitro? I think we would not be having this discussion now. Being on the receiving end of such care and compassion from ordinary people has affected me and had an impact on how I think of my transitus, which inevitably is closer today than it was yesterday, and is a key factor in all this. I am not in a position where what I do will have much effect on anybody. I am retired, not serving in a parish or a pastoral assignment. When asked I provide emergency coverage for masses, hospitals, etc. This may take care of itself and provide an easy way out as many parishes are cutting back on the number of weekend masses. All I need to do is stop helping out. My no longer being involved will hardly be noticed. There are some interesting communities I’d like to explore, aware that doing so will generate some issues. This whole experience is moving me to some serious rethinking on my life, and hopefully, some good listening. I really don’t expect anyone to understand, because a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have either.
Today’s Gospel says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. What are you saying? Are you calling me to do something? I don’t have answers, only questions looking for you among us ordinary people just trying to do our best. No glib answers. What is real, at least to me, is the sense of you calling me forward and walking with me. I’m in a good place. We got this.
This is all personal for me, maybe a matter of integrity, maybe a matter of bruised ego. I don’t want to do what I no longer believe. I don’t believe you limit yourself to one group of people and ignore the rest of your Father’s creation. You meant it when you said “wherever two or more gather in my name I am with them”. I believe you are really, truly, and substantially present in Eucharist, but not as a special holy thing that only Catholics have and others don’t. Eucharist is not something we do, but who we are, willingly open to you present in an ongoing dynamic relationship that includes everybody and moves us to live seeing others, outcasts, poor, migrants, with the same loving care and mercy as you did. Amazingness happens in Eucharist. I believe in the Sacraments, more than seven, as expressions of the relationship we share in you that make visible in a given person, time, place something that is going on all the time. I want no part of how some church units treat LGBTQ+ persons who, like me, are created in God’s image. I support Pope Francis in his efforts to lead the Church and all of us to be fully open to the Spirit as we try to follow you. May I learn to listen, to be led, to take chances, to rethink a lot, to go where you lead me. Just sayin . . .