Reflection for Sunday – February 14, 2016

Readings: Deuteronomy 26:4-10; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13

Last Wednesday we began the Lenten Season of 2016 in a world teaming with the intertwinement of very serious problems—terrorism, poverty, drug addiction, sexual abuse, faltering economies, racism; and the list goes on and on.

So much in the world around us appears hopeless and it becomes easy for us to give in to the temptation to think that by myself I can do nothing.

However, with Jesus as our model, this is not the time to give into temptations like denial or hopelessness. It’s just too much! Whether as an individual or as a group or as a people we can hope in the face of hopelessness. There is something positive and holy for each of us to do. We have only to listen to what the Lord is whispering into our hearts

Why? Because Jesus is the Living Word of God, ever so near us, on our lips and in our hearts.

Lent 2016 is a time for regaining HOPE…hope in the promise of the Lord and hope in ourselves.

We believe that we can hope for the better and be able to love more fully because we sense that what is hoped for and believed in is now becoming and will be reality. We can even pray with the Psalmist: Be with us, Lord, when we are in trouble…and realize that the Lord continues to be with us always…in good times and in tough times.

Lord, encourage us not to lose hope just because hope’s transformation into the reality God calls us to is not instant.

As I enter the eighth decade of the life God has gifted me with, I recall that I have begun the vast majority of Lents by trying to choose what I should give up in order to become a better child of God.

This year, with the Spirit guiding me, I have chosen to say something, do something, and help to create something that will hopefully continue God’s plan for us.

Many of us including myself have had the opportunity to be living in a land flowing with “milk and honey.” However, that is certainly not the reality for the majority of God’s people. Our country along with the whole world faces a multitude of major problems that threaten the life, well-being and spiritual development of our sisters and brother on this vulnerable planet.

This Lent and hopefully beyond … I am declaring a personal call to action to combat drug abuse and addiction, its causes and those who propagate it and I will embrace those who are its victims which includes all those involved in the tragedy.

This choice is made because my family was pierced by the needle of heroin addiction less than two months ago as we were celebrating the birth of our Savior.

For the addicted it is as though they are dwelling in an alien land…definitely maltreated, oppressed and in a psychological state where they become depraved because heroin deprives of the ability to choose right from wrong.

Foremost, we strive to prevent evil while at the same time holding in our arms all those affected and addicted, that they will know through us the living presence, compassion and mercy of Jesus Christ.

We have been saved…we are saved; therefore, liberated…free to listen to God and not only proclaim what God is whispering into our hearts…but have the unfailing courage to act upon it.

My family was shocked, deeply saddened and grieved. We felt a numbness in our lives by the sudden death of our beloved Nicholas due to an overdose of heroin.

Making the pain even worse was the realization that we were not alone. We learned that over 800 other families in this nation were enduring a similar loss and devastation that same week. This tragedy calls us to see where the Spirit is moving us. Where the Spirit of Jesus is inspiring us to do what is right, merciful and good in the face of evil.

As I said, our country along with the whole world faces a multitude of major problems.

The call as we journey through another Lent is to realize that all these problems are interrelated and connected. This evil matrix is the power of all that is wrong; it entraps all those caught up in its continuing destructiveness.

It becomes our challenge to make real the all powerful living word of God.
The word takes on flesh when we say “YES” to God’s word and it makes a dwelling place on our tongues and in our hearts.

This Lent choose an evil problem out of the many and do something about it…however simple or profound. In reality this is you and I stating that we won’t be tempted to do nothing just because the evil is so vast.

In the words of Father Patrick Peyton, “It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness”. This Lent…may our earth glow from the light of the candles burning in our hearts.

Paul Ryan
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