LIKE many parishes and places of faith around the world it was planned to have a Lenten Retreat and Day of reconciliation that would be shared in our faith community amidst the holy graces of Mass and the other sacraments. All that has changed for most of the world as the onslaught of the Covid 19 Virus has become a growing and harsh reality. We are called to grow through a Lent, an Holy Week and very likely many more weeks of our faith, our family life, our world in a time unlike any before. This has been brought with both the risks, and for some realities of serious illness. At our parish our retreat had been entitled : “Raise the Roof ~ A Journey of Healing and Reconciliation”. With the challenges and changes we all now face an online retreat is now being offered and the title, the theme has been broadened to: “A JOURNEY of HEALING and MERCY ~ A LENT and HOLY WEEK LIKE NO OTHER ~ A RETREAT for Our TIMES”. You are invited to share, from your heart and home in this journey for God in these difficult times. You are invited to grow in the truth and eternal realities of God who loves us and, not surprised by these sorrows of this world, who will lead us on a lasting journey of hope, healing, love and mercy. You are encouraged to very prayerfully join in this journey, read the Scriptures, make a simple journal of your thoughts, difficulties and insights to what we share. You are encouraged to share this retreat and to allow opportunity for reflection and response. You may leave a comment in the comment section or contact me on the Contact Page.
PART I: Let us begin. In the the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. . Peace be with you The sharing of God’s Peace seems almost absurd or even hypocritical for many. In our own area of Northern California we have been through intense fires, extended power outages and other experiences both as communities and as individuals where our circumstances of life are anything but peaceful. Many have asked… WHERE IS GOD? IF GOD IS….HOW, WHY WOULD GOD ALLOW ALL THIS HAVOC AND SORROW? I BELIEVE. BUT WHERE…… IS THE PROTECTION, THE BLESSING I THOUGHT GOD’S WORD PROMISED? Take a few moments to note your concerns and problems with the Presence, the promises of God during these and other trials. God is neither surprised or offended if we but ask these questions and share our heart with a honest willingness to allow God to respond. When Mary and Martha lost their brother Lazarus to illness and death they were devastated. Especially as they had asked their friend Jesus to come and heal Lazarus. Their faith, their love for Jesus was deeply wounded and confused. When Jesus did finally come, three days after Lazarus had died, Martha did not hesitate to let Jesus know her disappointment. AND… it was in response to that wounded heart Jesus invited and revealed the promise and soon the power of His resurrection. [Prayerfully read; John 11:1-44] This story of Lazarus brings us to recognize that trials, suffering, sorrow are a part of life, this side of eternity. Jesus clearly taught that IN this world we would face conflict and struggles. But He also made very clear that through these difficulties we would , IF WE CHOOSE, be able to grow in healing and mercy. This element of choice is very important to understand. We are created by and for God who is Love. [Genesis 1-2; John 1; I John 4]. Created in the image of God we are created to…for love. However this very holy and beautiful reality has a critical element. Love requires that we be free to choose. This gift of choice includes the ominous difficulty of the opportunity to choose…GOOD or EVIL. FAITH or DOUBT?. LOVE or HATE? GOD or SELF? This saga of life has resulted in the great spiritual conflicts between the enemy of our souls, and all that God treasures, or the lies, despair and destruction of the evil one. Let us explore a Biblical account of a journey where these realities were encountered. The Gospel of Mark shares an amazing story of courage in facing great obstacles, of faith, love and ultimate healing and mercy. [Prayerfully read: Mark 2:1-12]. Jesus was sharing in Capernaum. He was teaching in a house and the place was packed with His followers , seekers, and also Pharisees and scribes hoping to catch Jesus in error. So great was the crowd that no one could get in. Yet there was, approaching the house four men carrying a young man who was paralyzed. But it would that bring him to Christ was not going to happen. The crowd was too great. However, there faith and love would not be stopped. They went to the house top and literally began to tear open the tiles on the roof above where Jesus spoke. Imagine the reactions of those in the house! the homeowner! the Pharisees! Of Jesus! Opening the roof they then work to carefully lower the paralytic before Jesus…unsure…not knowing what Jesus would..could do. appear Christ then does what seems absurd and sacrilegious. He tells the young man his sins are forgiven. The Pharisees are furious. In livid hate they tell Jesus that He cannot forgive sins but only God. Responding to their ignorance, doubts and fears He then tells the young man to take up his bed and walk. To the amazement of all He does. He carries his bed through the throng and goes to meet the four men who brought him to Jesus, who brought him to healing and mercy. This profound account shares many lessons for our heart and journey. Sin clearly can cripple and destroy life..souls. The journey of faith for healing and mercy will face great challenges. Enemies of Hope will seek to rob and dissuade us from God’s grace, God’s Presence. The young man shows we must ultimately choose to hear and obey….trust God and His Word. That for the faithful there is eternal power to bring to God those crippled by sin for healing and mercy. The healing love of God will prevail where faith and love seek Him.
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