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Thoughts in a time of distress

Boniface Muggli, Richardton

It’s been a long few weeks. Many of our lives have been uprooted. We are afraid, confused, wondering what will happen. How can we know what to do, what to think?

It helps to listen to the Gospels the Church holds out to us in these weeks of Lent. Jesus is the one who offers us the living water, so we may drink and not be thirsty again. Jesus brings the light of the world, so that the blind may see. Jesus calls us from our tombs back to life again, as he called Lazarus.

But those descriptions don’t really capture the Gospel. No, Jesus does not just bring us the water of life, the light of the world, the new life-no, he is the life, and the light, the water that quenches our thirst. In a world gone crazy, Jesus is the still center, the hope that does not fail us or abandon us. Jesus is the one who shines on us and our world, so that we may see aright, and know where we must go. He shows us what matters, and what lasts, and leads us on the ways to reach what we need most of all.

Yes, it can seem that, on the way, we must leave behind everything enjoyable, turn from everything we love and want to cling to. But we discover that what is worth loving, God also loves, and by letting go of it, we can receive it back healed, restored to life, with joy.

This is the hidden secret of the Gospel: eternal life is not just for heaven, in some far-off future, one we may never attain. No, eternal life, and its peace and joy, already begin in part here and now. Already, when we align our will and hopes with God, we begin to taste the joy of heaven, and its goodness. Oh, there will still be plenty of suffering and trials coming as well-as we “work out our salvation in fear and trembling,” but under the brokenness, there is also, with God, a river of peace, a song of hope, even in the darkest hours.

And that means that we must listen for that hope, even when we are near despair and terror. We must declare our trust in God, even when, like Lazarus, we fear we are trapped in the tomb. Let us share that trust and hope, cling to the author of life. Let us look for him in the darkness, and point out to those around us where we see him. For, if we need Jesus in our hour of darkness, surely others, including those we love, need him too.

Boniface Muggli, OSB, is a monk and priest of Assumption Abbey, Richardton.

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