From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy to the saints in Colossae, our faithful brothers in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
We have never failed to remember you in our prayers and to give thanks for you to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you show towards all the saints because of the hope which is stored up for you in heaven. It is only recently that you heard of this, when it was announced in the message of the truth. The Good News which has reached you is spreading all over the world and producing the same results as it has among you ever since the day when you heard about God’s grace and understood what this really is. Epaphras, who taught you, is one of our closest fellow workers and a faithful deputy for us as Christ’s servant, and it was he who told us all about your love in the Spirit.
Leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. Leaning over her he rebuked the fever and it left her. And she immediately got up and began to wait on them.
At sunset all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to him, and laying his hands on each he cured them. Devils too came out of many people, howling, ‘You are the Son of God.’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.
When daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place. The crowds went to look for him, and when they had caught up with him they wanted to prevent him leaving them, but he answered, ‘I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, because that is what I was sent to do.’ And he continued his preaching in the synagogues of Judaea.
Made his way to a lonely place
Our Spiritual Director just attended a pastoral care course called ‘Empowering the Wounded Healer’. He was all fired up, full of passion and energy. I could tell from the tone of his WhatsApp messages to us. However, he did ‘escape’ the retreat one evening to come and conduct the ‘Revival Friday’ session for us; but went back straight after to the retreat. Very disruptive for him I’d imagine. But he did this out of love and his commitment to us — his community.
For those who know him, our Spiritual Director is a very fiery and passionate shepherd. And over the years, his passionate ‘showmanship’ became less about himself and more because he genuinely loved his community family. (He only stepped into this role some 2 years ago).
Last evening, during our weekly music practice, he came to pray with us. I had braced myself for another fiery session, having had feedback from a previous evening’s session with another ministry. But what surprised me was it was it turned out exactly the opposite. He was actually very calm, serene and peaceful.
Last night he shared with us that in ministry service, we get so caught up with the doing that we sometimes forget to care and love ourselves. We push aside a part of our lives (that child, that teenager) that was painful, shameful or downright degrading. We suppress that child to forget that part of our history and move forward. Yes, sometimes we get a conversion experience and we feel we are healed – then we charge forward and serve! We do so much, serve at the parish, a community and we get disillusioned. And that pain and the hurt of our childhood or growing up years never really goes away, right? In reality it makes us who we are today. ‘What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger’ as the saying goes. But being ‘stronger’ in that sense sometimes makes us really hard people. We are hard and tough because we don’t want anyone to see that vulnerable side of us. That combination of a wounded person, thinking that they are healed and ministering to others – can sometimes do more harm than good.
For me, it means accepting a part of my growing up years when suddenly that cushy carpet was drastically pulled from under my feet. I always felt anger, sadness and shame about those years of my life that drove me to working harder and accumulating. What we need is to come to terms with, and to accept and love that ‘child’. Only when we accept our past, can we really move on. And to do that we need Jesus’ help. To meet Him in prayer and let Jesus just love us.
In today’s gospel, we see how Jesus is so busy in His ministry; preaching the Good News, healing the sick and oppressed. Yet He always made time to be alone and prayed. Jesus continually withdrew from people, daily life activities, and the demands of his ministry to be alone with the Father and pray.
I felt that calmness I saw last night in our Spiritual Director come from time spent alone with Jesus. I felt that he was beginning to let go of what is expected of him — as a priest, being judged and watched by others, as a spiritual director, as a person who is wounded. He is finally learning to get off that stage and just be. Maybe he just learnt to cut himself some slack. And in that calmness, I saw a real love shine through him.
Can we spend some time in the adoration room today? Be silent, no need to babble and pray in many bombastic words, but just bask in God’s love?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Jesus, help us to learn from you. To not rely on our own strength, to navigate the challenges in life or simply to get through the day. Teach us to turn to Our Father in silent prayer.
Thanksgiving: Jesus, we thank you for your constant and ever available presence in our lives. We thank you for the gift of a quiet place, in our adoration chapels, our rooms or simply in the quietness of our hearts, where we can run to at any time – to just bask in your love. To draw strength from you.