Dear Sacred Heart Family,
Every year we make new resolutions. They last depending on our confidence, hope, and plan. I usually have the best of intentions. By now, one month in, I look back in the rear view mirror at my best of intentions that I may have left behind. Yet God doesn’t want us to live life looking in the rearview mirror. He gives Lent soon after, to bring our struggles, challenges and hopes to Him to be transformed by grace. If not, we live without hope.
C.S. Lewis once wrote, “There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” It wasn’t meant just as a beautiful phrase of encouragement. He was writing a letter to an American woman, Mary Willis Shelburne who was facing her imminent death. She was conversing with him over the end of her life, and Lewis himself could not have known that he would pass five months later, the same day as President Kennedy. In light of this he wanted her to approach suffering, pain, and loss with the hope of a Christian disciple. Immediately before this beautiful phrase, he asked Shelburne, “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret?” He was putting life in context of eternal glory. Glory and mercy sets us free.
We can be trapped in the past, or the future. It is hard to live in the grace of the present moment, and surrender all to Jesus, and His Divine Providence. Whether treasured memories of past moments, or the pain of unhealed wounds, the past can affect our hope for the future. Or we can daydream the day away, or be paralyzed by fears we can’t seem to shake. But as we come to know Jesus and His tender Mercy, we can put this life in context. “Everything is grace,” says St. Therese. The blessings, and the struggles of life are part of God’s providential plan for our lives. In the first reading, Job fears, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope. Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.” The psalm responds with hope: “Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted…. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He tells the number of the stars; he calls each by name.” Our sorrows are passing, we are called by name, we have new hope that rose with Jesus from the dead.
St. Paul in his transformation has learned this Good News: “I have become all things to all, to save at least some.” This healing power is at work in the Gospel, where Jesus heals Peter’s Mother in law, and she served in thanks. As word spread, the town brought all the sick, the possessed, the suffering, and He worked healings. The next day as His fame spread, his disciples told him, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also.” In two weeks, this Lent, let us approach Jesus with confidence. Let us bring the past and the future, the blessings and the pain, and surrender to His Providence. Let us experience His kindness, and we too will preach where God leads us.
In Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart,
Fr. Bjorn Lundberg