Sunday, November 29, 2009

Waiting for God

Samuel Beckett wrote a book called Waiting for Godot. It’s one of the many modern ‘classic’s I’ve yet to read. I wonder if I ever will read it. As a general rule I don’t like modern classics because their very modernity seems to be at odds with the true definition of a classic and the former wins out over the latter. I happen to prefer classic classics—classics which have stood the test of time. And yet, since we can see, ‘waiting for God’ in the title of Beckett’s book, I am intrigued by the potential connection.*

I know I am waiting for God. I’ve been waiting for Him for a very long time—not as long as some, but longer than others: fifty-something years if you must know. When I hit fifty I went through an aging crisis, the first and only time in my life getting older ever bothered me. Looking back I see now it was because I’d lost my way. If one has both eyes on God, then being fifteen or fifty is pretty much the same. Both ages can be a moment from His presence or thirty years.

Most of us don’t like waiting. That was the theme of our pastor’s homily last night. And yet he rightly reminded us about all the benefits God can draw from our waiting experiences: the savoring of anticipation, building of character, and growth in patience, to name but a few. So much good can come from waiting on God, doing things according to His Will, in His Time. If we but wait, when the harvest comes in, how wonderful is the feast! Many of us in America just experienced that as we sat down to our groaning tables Thanksgiving Day . . . and got up an hour or so later, groaning ourselves, from having feasted on His Bounty.

That’s fine for us, but what about those who are still waiting? Still hungry?

And of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as we all know. There are many, many other things—issues if you will—still unresolved, which seem to be on-hold, waiting: the poor, immigrants, the unborn, the lost, minorities, the lonely, homeless, the elderly, abused children, the dying, victims of crime, our planet, etc. The list goes on. Who or what are they waiting for? Does God hear their cry? Do we?

I don’t have answers, only questions and observations. I work for a church which pours Charity, not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, into the surrounding community and yet in recent years has had to install security lights, cameras (which have been repeatedly stolen) and locks everywhere for the protection of those who give so generously.

In our parish, we have those who bring food, clothing and emergency transportation to desperate people at all hours of the day and night, and have done so for years now. These veteran helpers are true Sons of St. Francis of Assisi and their stories are fascinating. In spite of many instances of personal danger, flagrant abuse, and hostility, they remain devoted and untiring ministers to those in need.

Our St. Vincent DePaul hotline receives threatening calls when the disgruntled ‘poor’ feel the service provided isn’t sufficient or prompt enough. “I think Channel XVZ needs to hear your church is doing false advertising! You say you’re there to help us but no one called me back tonight!”

Police vehicles camp in our parish parking lot every evening we have a function. I see them with gratitude but also with more than a trace of sadness, that their presence is necessary.

God we are waiting. We are still waiting. Advent is a time of waiting. We are your children, Lord, and we still await Your Coming.

Lord, come to our assistance. Make haste to help us!

*However, if you read the linked NY Times review of the play, you will learn that Beckett doesn't expect God to ever come to save mankind. Poor man!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Am I Good?

Am I? Is anyone? Are you?

And what is “good” anyway?

In Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19 Jesus answers the greeting of, ‘Good teacher’ with, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” In Mark’s account it is the Rich Young Man who calls Jesus ‘good’; in Luke’s, it is ‘an official’ who also goes unnamed. However, in both accounts, Jesus is very clear, only God is good.

Yesterday’s Gospel reading was a favorite—the sweet story of the Good Shepherd who risks His whole flock to go in search of that one lost lamb. Who doesn’t see him or herself in that story from time to time?

And yet, we are called to be those righteous sheep who do not stray, those who remain faithful to Our Lord, perhaps rubbing or bumping up against him as a herd of sheep are wont to do.

So I ask myself that question again, ‘Am I good?’

Am I one of the ninety-nine or am I the troublesome lamb which Our Lord has to keep going after?

Today was First Friday. I went to Mass and Confession, said my rosary, and prayed for the souls in Purgatory. I wish I could say I do this all the time. I wish I was always good and never had anything to confess. Rather, I imagine my poor confessor thinking, “Oh no her again! Same old tired sins. Can’t she at least think up some new ones?! But no, I am putting my own uncharitable thoughts in his mind. For all I know, he could be praying for me as I should and will pray for him.

So, no I am not good when left to my own devices.

But yes, I am good because He made me that way.

No, I’m not good when I refuse to cooperate with His plan.

And yet I can be good when I say, “Yes!” to Him.

No, I’m not good when I think I act on my own.

Yes, I’m good when I allow His Holy Spirit to work through me.

Am I good?

Yes and No, depending on my choices.

Please dear Lord, help me choose, “YES!”