Faith in Difficult Times; Monday in the Fourth Week of Lent

The words of the Prophet Isaiah sound wonderful to us. I am building a New Heaven and a New Earth. A place for people where there will be no more weeping, no more sorrow. We can dream about such a place when we are going through hardship and trying to endure pain whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual. We might wonder whether such a place can exist, certainly not in this life it seems. Granted it is a beautiful world we live in, but it is far from perfect.

But what Isaiah is describing is not heaven, a place we cannot expect to see until we die, instead he is talking about a new way of being, a place we can encounter here and now if we turn, and place our faith in God

Trust in God is at the heart of our readings today. Isaiah was speaking to a small remnant of people who had maintained their faithfulness while so many others had lost hope. Isaiah’s message was for everyone but so many had turned their backs and no longer cared to know that even in the most difficult times God was always with them, reaching out, calling to them.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus experiences similar rejection, even from those who should have known him best. But when he encounters the people of Samaria and of Galilee he discover people of faith, people who are longing to hear what he is teaching, not because of signs and miracles but because they know that their lives are better, simply because they believe.

The official who asks Jesus to come and heal his son certainly wanted Jesus to come with him and stand at his child’s bedside to perform a miracle before his eyes the way that he had heard Jesus could do. But when Jesus looked at him and said,  “your son will be well” he did not hesitate, he returned home immediately to find that it was exactly as Jesus had spoken, in his heart he knew that all would be well.

Our faith does not necessarily change the world directly, but it does change us. It allows us to stand up and keep going even when the wind prevails against us. Our faith reminds us that we are not alone and that our strength is not our own. It comes from knowing that whatever happens God is at our side. With this strength we can reshape our world and find its meaning even in our darkest moments.

Just recently a family approached me and asked for a blessing as they traveled home to their community. They had just experienced the sudden and tragic loss of a brother and were deeply grieving. Though their sorrow was evident, I was more struck by the resilience that was exhibited as they stood before me and asked for prayer so that they could deal with what they were facing. No, my prayer would not restore their brother to life, but it would help remind them of the source of the power that was in them to withstand the cruel blows that sometime come in this life. It would help remind them that God was close and that with the help of God they would get through this together, as a family.

Turn to God in your sorrow, know that the Lord is near. Don’t let the anxiety of these present days wear you down but know that God is preparing an new Heaven and a New Earth for all those who believe.

14 comments

  1. Dear Jon so so glad to see you writing and sharing your insights and wisdom of the Word again. Blessings on you, you’re prayed for and with daily and nightly in your life. Shalom, love megan

    On Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 8:02 AM +Jon Hansen, C.Ss.R. wrote:

    > +Jon Hansen, C.Ss.R. posted: “The words of the Prophet Isaiah sound > wonderful to us. I am building a New Heaven and a New Earth. A place for > people where there will be no more weeping, no more sorrow. We can dream > about such a place when we are going through hardship and trying to end” >

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  2. It is so good to have your homilies back again, your Grace. We need them in this time of testing. God bless you royally!!!

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  3. Hello from a Presbyterian who reaches out for faith and comfort. A friend sent me this message and I thank you for such a meaningful gift of remembrance that we are with Jesus in these unsettling days. His words are like the calming of the seas. Blessings upon your day.🙏Laura van loon, Saskatoon SK

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  4. Thank you for your inspiring reflection. It is so comforting in these pandemic times. As a very recent repatriate to Canada, it is my faith that God is present in all this, that has assisted me to remain calm and just allow for God’s protection and direction to manifest itself throughout my return journey home. We are most definitely entering into the creation of a new heaven and a new earth as we face the changes that the spread of the COVID 19 presents. Our interdependence and sensitive cooperation has never been more essential than it is now. We must do our best to create a new heaven and a new earth by the ways in which we protect ourselves and others by our physical self-distancing. We can still be in touch electronically and reflections like yours help us to be less self absorbed and more other oriented. Thank you.

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