Mark was an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. He and his wife, Susan, had been EM’s for several years. But Susan hadn’t exercised her ministry for a long time. She’d been suffering from medical problems for more years than she cared to remember—-one thing after another. What was really difficult for Susan was that she was no longer
One Saturday evening, Mark was driving home from church. As he stopped at a red light, he felt his coat pocket to make sure that the pyx was there. Yes, it was. He was bringing Holy Communion to Susan. He felt honored to be able to do this. And he knew his wife was grateful to be receiving the Body of Christ.
As he was going through the Communion Service with Susan before their dinner, he thought to himself, “Our marriage has certainly played out very differently way than I thought it would.” And as he looked at his wife sitting in the recliner after a particularly difficult day, he said to himself, “But I wouldn’t change one thing. Susan, I love you more than ever.”
Then Mark remembered the words of an old priest friend of his. Fr. Jim had said to him one time, after Mark and Susan had had a big fight over something—-he can’t even remember now what it was, “Remember those vows you took on your wedding day—-‘for better, for worse’ or maybe it was ‘I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad’. Well, the “worse” or “bad times” is usually the best teacher. And Mark had said at the time, “Well that doesn’t sound too encouraging!” Fr. Jim said, “the ‘worst’ or ‘bad times’ are going to teach you what God wants you to do for others—-for Susan.
Now, after nearly 50 years of marriage, Mark could say that Fr. Jim’s words were true. And one of the greatest obstacles that Mark had to face in the early years of his marriage and his career was coming to the realization that it wasn’t all about him, and that he had to let go of his preconceived notions of what he thought his life and his marriage would be like. Mark had to learn that his happiness wasn’t going to come from success as the world sees success, but as God sees it.
As the years went by and challenges were faced, Mark began to realize that God was purifying him so that he could fulfill the purpose that God had in mind. At first it was hard to let go, but he started to see that what God was offering him was more “valuable” than anything he had hoped or wished for himself.
Jesus says in very blunt terms, get rid of the things that would prevent you from doing my will: “Cut it off”, “pluck it out”, even if it’s something that you think you really need or want. I’m going to teach you that life is not about living for yourself but about other. And so we pray that God will help us to see what it is that he wants us to do with our life. We pray for the grace to be able to live for others and to allow our challenges and our weaknesses to be the “best teacher” for us—-to allow God’s grace to work through them to make us whole and give us Life.