No matter how disheartening the headlines, we can’t lose sight of the fact that we hold the answer to our world’s problems. Our lives and our discourse must always witness to the love of Christ in the world. We are his hands – wounded with nails, yes – but relentless in mercy.
Our minds have the tendency of honing in on events that rank high on the emotional register. Experiences that arouse powerful emotional responses may be positive or negative; but we’re known to hang on to the negative ones. They get imprinted in our emotional memory and become patterns of thought that are inconsistent with the way life actually is and who we are today.
Fortunately there’s a more reliable account of who we are than the one our insecurities would tempt us to believe. The Gospel is clear: we are children of God and we are unconditionally loved by God. End of story.
When life trips our Achilles heel, let’s keep that in mind and walk a little taller, drawing ever closer to the love that gives us Life.
It is that time of year again. Students are preparing for graduation, that rite of passage that makes all of us more than a little a nostalgic. Parents are negotiating the number of passes to the ceremony with all the family and friends who wish to share in the big event. I have been pouring over all the commencement and valedictory speeches floating around the internet and thought I’d share the closing line to Donovan Livingston’s speech at Harvard. It’s just really on point. Here it is.
God bless you!
This morning I had my digital device tuned to a Catholic radio station. As I dressed for work, I listened to a well-known speaker share a story about a profound conversion he had while in the seminary. He came to understand the intimately personal nature of God’s love for each of us through a unique prayer experience. He had been meditating on a verse of Sacred Scripture when the moment gave way to a profound experience of being “known and loved.” He likened the experience to being called by name. The speaker attempted to convey the feeling that accompanied the moment with examples of being publicly acknowledged as a personal friend by a celebrity or esteemed member of the community. The analogies fell short until he cited the passage in scripture by the empty tomb when Jesus speaks Mary’s name and she immediately recognizes him. It is one of my favorite passages.
I had to leave the sermon there and head out the door. Little did I know that one of the more challenging mornings in recent memory awaited me. After sitting in unprecedented traffic and a series of unpleasant moments densely packed into the first couple hours of my day, I found myself reaching for my coat and walking in the directon of a nearby Church. I entered and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament for a little while.
As I left the Church, I noticed a priest speaking to a group of people. He turned around and warmly called out my name. I had met him only once, weeks earlier. How he remembered my name is beyond me. All I know is that I was deeply moved when I heard him speak my name. I couldn’t help but discern the Lord’s presence in that simple greeting. I took in the moment’s disclosure with reverence and walked more confidently into the afternoon.