I went to four daily masses this vacation week. I didn’t plan on it, not at first, but it just kind of happened. Pre-breakfast mass with Dad, one with a friend, one for a church event, one a funeral, none in my own parish. The wisdom that poured out of good priests during their homilies on these beautiful days was like rare treasure; I wanted to gather it all up. You could see and feel their connection with God, and what they had to offer has stuck with me. Two of the guys are old friends (one a repeat appearance) while one was brand new to me. Each of them enlightened and encouraged me and made me grateful again for the profound gift of a good priest. These guys really were like Jesus for me this week. For you, and for me (so I don’t forget) here’s some of what they said, the really good stuff that feeds a soul, the best I can remember.
“Jesus asked Peter, ‘Who do you say I am?” and Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ’. Then Jesus responded, ‘You are Peter.’ I like that. When we tell God Who He is in our lives, He will tell us who we are, and the answer might surprise us. Before that day, Peter thought he was Simon, a simple fisherman. But God had bigger plans and He even gave him a new name. He was Peter, the Rock, the first Pope. Take some time today to tell God Who He is to you and listen for Him to tell you who you are. The answer might surprise you.”
“Heaven has great big windows. Our loved ones in Heaven can see us and guide us. You are never without their help.”
“A true friend has reverence for your story. Reverence is not a word we use often anymore, but every person’s story is sacred and we need to choose carefully who we entrust with it.”
“Jesus wants to be your best friend. He has a close circle of friends around Him, and He always wants us to get closer. He’s always inviting us. I kept my distance for a long time, but I’m stepping a bit closer now every day and it keeps getting better. I can tell you from experience: Jesus is a trustworthy friend. “
“I held a baby this week when meeting with a young family. She was content to stay right here (he patted his heart) and she didn’t want to move. I know from my experience with my nieces and nephews that once babies become toddlers, they never stay still for long, always looking for the next thing. We’re like that. We get distracted and we are never still long enough to let Jesus love us, for that love to sink in. We can let Him hold us and pour love into us, trusting Him like that baby trusts the person who holds her.”
After communion at that first mass, I quietly told God that Who He is to me is my Shepherd. He’s not a scary Sky God who’s separate and angry and judging, but He gently leads and takes care of me. He corrects my path when I stray. He gives me everything I need. In my spirit, He replied, “And you are my Beloved.” Through the rest of the week, as I’ve spent time with wonderful friends and family, I am filled with gratitude for how these words from good priests have shaped and mirrored my everyday experiences. I’ve felt the presence of my Mom who art in Heaven, trusting in her guidance for me and mine. I’ve experienced sacred, joyful, soul-feeding time with true friends. And I’m learning about the absolute necessity of stillness. In quiet time with God, He clears out the clutter of my mind and ego and just pats my back and tells me how special I am to Him, how He’s working to make crooked ways straight, how I can trust Him. And it’s the most lovely, quiet peace there is, truly. I’m so grateful to these three men who helped me get a little closer to God this week. In their grace, acceptance, and hard-won peace and trust, they are mirroring the great big love of God, and I am so grateful. Oh, how He loves us.