Posted by: mmreflections | October 15, 2011

Mission Accomplished! October 2011

Father, the hour has come.  I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work you gave me to do.  Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.  I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.  Now I am coming to you.  (Confer John 17:1-13)

Serving my country in the army was a great initiation preparing me for life’s continuing journey.  It was during these years I learned about service, love of country, courage, cooperation, acceptance of others and trust in God.  Prior to this I had been taught many lessons by my mom, brothers, sisters, friends and teachers.  Applying all these lessons became a serious challenge once I realized I was not the center of the world but was part of something much bigger and greater.  Physical endurance, perseverance, discipline and concern for others opened my eyes to aspects of my personality I had never recognized before this time.  At the moment I did not realize I was being prepared for the dark nights that awaited me on my journey.

In some ways it was like the initiation of a young Indian boy in the early Native American culture.  Each tribe had an interesting way of training their young braves for assuming their roles in the community.  On the night of a young boy’s thirteenth birthday, after he had been taught many lessons about hunting, fishing, courage, patience and service, he would be led out into the darkest part of a forest where he was to spend the night alone to confront his fears and demons.  He was left in a place so dense that not even the moonlight could pierce through the darkness.  Every sound of the forest struck terror in the heart of the young boy.  What wild animal lurked nearby?  All night he would wait for the first signs of dawn.  One minute seemed like an hour.  But then the first light broke through  enabling him to see what was around him.  Trees, flowers, low bushes appeared.  Lo and behold!  To his great surprise and joy he saw his father standing nearby, holding a bow and arrow.  What a joyful moment it must have been for the young brave as he ran to his father’s arms crying out,  “I did it!  I passed the test!  I completed the work I was called to do!  I am coming home with you now!”

Each of us has a purpose for being on this earth.  We have been given ample opportunities to discover and fulfill that purpose.  The Holy One has prepared us for our journey to fulfill this purpose by bringing many teachers and guides into our lives to teach us and help us.  They were the ones who planted the seeds of faith and love in our hearts.  These teachers, mentors, guides and other helpers were preparing us for the dark nights that would come into our lives.  With what courage would we be able to face the challenges that would come when everything seemed to be going wrong, when the fears seemed to be overwhelming?  What would we do when our very faith is being questioned?  This will be determined by how well we embraced the lessons given us.  If we paid close attention and learned our lessons well there will be nothing to fear.  We will be able to pass the test and the Holy One who loves us will be there as we run to him at the dawn of the new day.

The young Indian brave who learned his preparatory lessons well was able to survive the dark night in the forest.  The young braves who treated their lessons carelessly or lightly most probably failed the test in the forest and would not be able to take their place among the warriors of the tribe.  They would never know the joy of seeing their fathers standing there and protecting them at the end of the long night.  They would not know the joy of running into their father’s arms saying, “I have passed the test!  I accomplished  the task  you gave me to fulfill!”

Jesus prepared for his coming ordeal right after his baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.  “On coming out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.  A voice came from the heavens saying, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'”  (Mark 1:9-11)  After this the Spirit drove him out into the desert where he was tempted and where he remained for forty days and nights.  His only companions were the wild beasts and angels.  His purpose for being on this earth was severely challenged.  Temptations to wealth, fame and power confronted him.  Was he to take the easy way out?  Or was he to embrace his true purpose and remain faithful to what his Father had sent him to fulfill?  Would he be able to pass the test?

In our society filled with so many distractions it has become a rarity to learn of people taking quiet time to examine their spiritual journeys.  Do we ever ask the question, “Am I paying attention to the lessons I have been taught or am learning?  What am I doing with them?”  Jesus told a parable which might give us a way of considering these questions.  It is the story of the farmer who went out to sow his seed.  The seeds are the lessons we are called to learn.  The question for us to examine is, “What kind of soil am I when it comes to lessons I am being taught?”  Am I like the pathway; do I hear the lessons but refuse to believe they are important?  Am I rocky ground with no moisture;  I see the lessons as important for a short while but soon forget them?  Am I the soil among thorns;  I learn the lessons and realize their importance but anxieties, riches and pleasures of life take precedence?  Am I rich soil; a wise person who, when taught a lesson, embraces it with a generous and good heart? (Confer Luke 8:4-15)  These questions will give us an answer as to how we will brave the dark nights that await all of us on our journeys.

The dark nights will eventually come to a close and we can be sure there will be many of  them on our life’s journeys.  Ultimately we will all come to the darkest night, the one none of us can escape, the last moment of our lives.  How will the last dark night of our life on this earth come to a close?  There will be no more lessons to learn, no loved ones to save us, no doctors to heal us.  Will it be like the young Indian brave who after the dark night joyfully saw his father standing nearby protecting him?  Will it be like the negligent father who was dying and was approached by his young son who asked him, “Daddy, are you afraid to die?”  His father responded, “Son, I am not afraid to die but I am so ashamed.”  Or will it be a joyful moment when we see our heavenly Father face to face for the first time and are able to say, ”  “Daddy, I completed the task you gave me to do.  I am coming home.”

Thus says the Lord who formed you, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.  When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown.  When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One.”  (Isaiah 43:1-3)

                  

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Responses

  1. Another inspirational reflection, Father Mike.
    Your words are always from the heart and so uplifting. What a nice moment we all have to be reading your writings and find some peace at that time just absorbing it all.

    Thanks again.
    Andrea


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