September 12, 2021
The cords of death encompassed me; the snares of the netherworld seized upon me;
I fell into distress and sorrow, And I called upon the name of the Lord,“O Lord, save my life!”
— Psalm 116:3-4
Brothers & Sisters,
Last week, the scriptures led us to reflect on whether our trust in the Lord is stronger than our fears. As the pandemic lingers, with no clear conclusion in sight, the resulting stress can be overwhelming. This week’s Psalmist captures that sentiment quite well. Fight, flight, or freeze can describe our instinctual response. In the face of danger, the body reacts. I’m no expert on encounters with bears – so I will give no survival advice here. However, I am confident that the exhaustion of a prolonged encounter with a bear would be unbearable whatever our response. Stay with me as we dive deeper.
All joking aside, the feeling of helplessness due to prolonged stress is REAL and can be crippling. Now, let’s consider people outside our immediate circles, those currently homeless because of natural disasters, those threatened by terrorism like that in Afghanistan. Or victims of abuse by the hand of someone they trusted. And while in comparison, our circumstances may seem insignificant. When our suffering is left to fester like an untreated wound, it will always leave us sick with sorrow. Jesus understands. Aware that his disciples will face much suffering, he asks a critical question, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responds, “You are the Christ.” The Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah is Christ. As the nations around them threatened, the Hebrew people felt discouraged and asked the Lord God for a king. Why? They wanted a powerful ruler to rely on, despite the Lord’s warnings that kings were flawed.
Jesus would not be the victorious warrior the Hebrews begged for, and sometimes we still expect. No, in utter defeat, Jesus conquered by offering his life upon a cross. Ask yourself, to this day, do we request of God the wrong kind of Messiah? And in our roles as leaders, do we assume too much responsibility on our own, solving without serving or asking Jesus to take over? With the new school year underway, I encourage families to reflect on our Messiah, a wounded and crucified King. Let’s first seek understanding instead of taking out our frustrations upon imperfect leaders, from the heads of nations to our state and local officials, to our employers, bishops, or principals. Let’s cooperate with shared values for our country, our communities, and our parish. For only in following the Lord’s path, as we implore in our distress, “O Lord, save our lives,” will we find lasting redemption.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Rev. Michael S. Triplett