A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘Jesus

cat in the sun

Pixie basking in the sun

Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.

~ Robert G. Ingersoll, quoted in the Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd Edition

Earlier this month, I saw the first real signs of spring in my yard. Not the mud patches exposed by the melted snow, or the brown grass beginning to turn green, but the purple and yellow crocuses that were quickly followed by early stardrift.

I heard the sounds of spring in the early morning birdsong outside my bedroom window. And I felt spring in the sunshine—not the cold glare of winter sun, but the warm rays of spring our cats and dog (and even our corn snake) like to bask in.

The arrival of spring gives the world a fresh start and offers us hope that life goes on—just as Jesus’ resurrection gives us both the hope of new life in him now and the hope of eternal life.

The scriptures talk about the hope that we have in Jesus. The apostle Paul, in Romans 15:13*, speaks of our God as “the God of hope”: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Note that we’re called to “abound in hope,” not just to have a faint hope that God will be with us and help us. And when we feel as though we don’t dare to hold out hope anymore—for recovery from an illness, for a child to return to the church, for other long-awaited good news—we need to remember that we can ask the Holy Spirit to renew our hope. As Psalm 147:11 reminds us, God longs for us to place our hope always in him, in his power and in his faithful love for us:

His delight is not in the strength of the horse,

nor his pleasure in the legs of a man;

but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,

in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Even when life throws us a curve ball, we can think about the times God has strengthened us in the past and continue to hope and trust in him, as the psalmist does in Psalm 43:5:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you disquieted within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my savior and my God.

I pray that, whatever situations we face, we would hold onto our hope in the Lord and his love for us.

stardrift

Early stardrift in my garden

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

~ George Iles, quoted in the Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd Edition

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Since the snow lasted into early April, it feels more like March in Ottawa to me, with some cool weather and a fair amount of rain. And more rain on the way several days this week.

Sometimes I find rainy days dreary and even headache-inducing. Still, I know the rain revives the crocuses and early stardrift flowers in my garden, makes the grass green up, and washes away the road dust.

Do we recognize the power of the rain in our own lives?

I recently borrowed a book by Jefferson Bethke called Jesus>Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough. In a chapter entitled “With Religion, If You Are Suffering, God Is Punishing You / God Already Punished Jesus on Your Behalf, So Suffering Is His Mercy,” the author talks about the way rain changes our lives:

Too many times we curse the rain in our lives–suffering, trials, hardships–but the truth is, without rain, nothing grows.

Being laid off from a job I enjoyed, losing a friend to cancer, losing a friendship to distance and time–none of this pain was something I welcomed. Yet in time I learned that I was more than my job. That tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and I shouldn’t waste today. That some friendships will fade away. But most importantly, that I could lean on God for comfort in my sadness and for strength and guidance to grow and make changes in my life.

In June, we’ll mark the feast of the Ascension of the Lord. For the apostles, this was a time of loss: while they continued to meet and pray with other followers of Jesus, and even to select another apostle to take the place of Judas (see Acts 1:15-26*), Jesus had returned to heaven (see Acts 1:9). But then the day of Pentecost came, bringing the gift of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:1-12), as Jesus had promised. Though the apostles lost Jesus’ physical presence among them, they gained the guidance and gifts of the Holy Spirit; the promise of eternal life, as Jesus was “the first-born from the dead” (Colossians 1:18); and “a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,” “one who is every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning” (Hebrews 4:14, 15). And the church was born.

When we are struggling to deal with loss, suffering or challenges, may we turn to God to bring us through the difficult times to healing and growth.

(*Scripture references and quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

When I was expecting my son, the morning sickness (or all-day sickness) and fatigue at the beginning were…less than fun, but less challenging than the last few weeks, which saw me dressed for comfort in my husband’s t-shirts, with my sneakers laced as loosely as possible, and my wedding ring on a chain around my neck.

But the physical discomfort was worth it when I had my son. And saw a new life begin.

Sometimes we have to go through discomfort and even pain to find the joy and new life on the other side. And that was never more true than at the first Easter.

Jesus was flogged, crowned with thorns, forced to carry his own cross, and crucified while others mocked him and divided up his clothing. One of his disciples had betrayed him; many of them had fled out of fear; and one, Peter, had denied three times that he knew him.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

he was bruised for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,

and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Jesus willingly went through all this, knowing that he would rise on the third day, so that we would have forgiveness of our sins and the hope of new life in him.

The disciples feared persecution and mourned the loss of their teacher and their idea of the Messiah, only to be overjoyed when Jesus stood among them and to learn the truth about why he came to live among us:

“Thus it written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)

As we walk in the shadow of the cross tomorrow, may we remember all that Jesus went through to save us and the joy that awaits us at Easter, when it will be proclaimed, “The Lord is truly risen, alleluia.”

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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