Sunday, February 8, 2015

And with your spirit...

Today, my long time running partner asked me to say a prayer for her friend.  I had heard about this friend's pregnancy over time as the friend was having some challenges.  In short, the mother to be had an emergency C-section to deliver twins early yesterday.  The baby boy was okay.  The baby girl died at 11:45 last night.  A terrible tragedy for the child and the family.  So, I said I would keep baby, the mother, and the family in my prayers.  

Later in the afternoon, we went to mass.  After the opening song the priest made a comment about the first reading being from the book of Job.  Job is one of the books of wisdom.  As Father Sam likes to point out these books are not meant as factual accounts but are useful stories to help understand what the ancient Jewish people were struggling with.  In Job, the struggle was with the concept of why terrible things happen to people who haven't done anything wrong.  This was the first amazingly relevant part of today's mass for me.  Clearly, the baby girl who passed away had not done anything wrong.  People of faith often struggle when something like this happens--and obviously this has been a problem for people of faith for millenia.

As mass continued, after the first verse we sang You Answered Me from Psalm 138 for the response.  The refrain talks about "Lord, on the day I called for help, You answered me..."  God is there.  God is healing.  God is forgiving.  And God can bring healing when horrible things happen to good people.

The Gospel was Mark 1:29-39, where Jesus healed the mother-in-law of Simon and then healed many others.  Another sign of a healing and loving God, although, as Father Sam pointed out, Jesus then went to reflect and pray as he realized that just being a "miracle worker" was not the intended role.  Third relevant thing to think about at today's mass as it was a very powerful example of healing.  

Next, the song during the preparation of the gifts was Your Great Name.  In this song, we hear about the lost finding their way, the condemned feeling no shame, and the weak finding their strength.  The term "my Healer" comes up again and again.  More amazing relevance.  

The song during the Eucharist, You Are focused on "Love unfailing, truth unchanging..." and "strength for those in need."  More direct relevance for my afternoon.  

Then, after Eucharist and prior to dismissing the congregation, Fr. Sam quoted two of the Beatitude including "Blessed are those who mourn..."  Father Sam had no idea of what issue I'd heard about earlier in the day.  

Father had challenged us at the start of the mass to continue to spend time thinking about what our baptisms mean.  What our commitment to our faith means.  He commented further than with no one paying attention to the rule to go to church at this point we are seeing only people who are really committed.  But that doesn't mean that everyone has it all figured out.  The people who come are the ones who are seeking to figure it out and then figure out how to live their lives in a way that reflects the Gospel that we preach and listen to.  To conclude this thought, Father Sam shared a thought with us that he had shared before: don't just listen to me on Sunday, watch my actions on Wednesday.  See if he lives out what he speaks about.

And to tie this all back to how it affects me, I had shared with my friend, who is not Catholic, that at the Catholic mass the priest will say "Peace be with you."  And over the past several years the congregation has not answered "And also with you," but instead, "And with your spirit."  Today, my friend's friend needs her spirit healed.  And, so, I pointed this out to my friend and she appreciated the thought a lot.  

For those of us with faith in the God Christians believe in, there is the opportunity to find healing in that faith.  And for me today, I was amazed at how the readings that are set years in advance helped me to see examples of that healing and examples of how I am asked to help live out that healing on a day when I wished for nothing more than healing thoughts for a friend of a friend experiencing the devastation of losing a child.  

Saying a prayer is only a small part of the healing process.  The friend of a friend is lucky to have our mutual friend as a listener and shoulder to cry on.  Perhaps that will be a way for her to begin to heal.

And for me, if I ever wonder whether there is a strong correlation between what I need and what I get at mass, this is one day that I will remember.  I get exactly what I need.  Sometimes I just need to work harder to understand it and realize it.  Today was a shining example.  I hope that my spirit, which is more at ease now than when I first heard about the tragedy for the friend of a friend, can help to heal and lift up others.    

No comments:

Post a Comment