Bill is having trouble in his marriage. He keeps telling himself that everything will work out all right in the end. Naively, he thinks the problem lies just with his wife. He’s never taken the time to look at himself and what he might be doing. Then, one day he hears the words he never thought he’d hear: “I want a divorce”. He shares with his close friend that he feels his life is a disaster, and his friend suggests that he should consider getting back to church. That might be something he could do to help himself get back on the right track.
Usually, when Bill hears this kind of thing, he dismisses it by saying that he’s not the church-going type—just Christmas and Easter, and the special things for the kids. Now, given the events of the past few days, he’s paying attention to this suggestion.
Margaret is worried because her daughter is dating a guy she really doesn’t like. She can see how this person is having a negative effect on her daughter and getting her involved in things that are dangerous. The problem is that her daughter is of legal age, and lives in her own apartment. There really isn’t anything that she can do. Margaret has had several huge fights with her daughter and all that has happened is that there is now a strain on their relationship. She’s worried about her daughter and is frustrated at her inability to “fix” the situation. The one thing that she has noticed lately, though, is that she’s spending more time in prayer than she ever did before. And that seems to calm her for a while.
A woman is driving home from the doctor’s office. She’s just had her yearly check up and the blood work has her doctor concerned. There’s a big change in some of the numbers compared to last year. Now she has to go for another x-ray and see a specialist. She’s a nervous wreck, and is thinking that she might want to go to Mass this Sunday. She usually groans when she thinks about getting herself and her family to Mass, but this week she’s really looking forward to it. Maybe it will calm her nerves and her worries about her health.
There are things that happen in our lives that shake us up, make us pause and look at our life differently. Maybe we thought that we were invincible—that nothing could really touch us or disturb our way of life, but then the rug is pulled out from under us and we don’t know what to do. And maybe in those confusing times we might think that God can help us.
Maybe there were warnings about how we were living our life, about our lack of faith, but we kept ignoring them. Perhaps thinking we can just rely on our own powers wasn’t such a good way of thinking.
The story about the Israelites is similar to the three stories I shared with you. The Israelites had forgotten about God and what the Lord had done for them in the past. The Exodus event was a long time ago and they had become arrogant and laughed at the warnings God was sending them. But then the Babylonian Army comes on the scene and all that they had and valued is taken away from them. They’ve hit “rock bottom” and now they are paying attention.
During this season of Lent, let’s not wait for a bomb to be dropped on us before we start taking Christ seriously. But if that’s the way it plays out in our life, that’s ok too—the main thing is that we learn to allow Christ in and know to ask for his help. As we move forward in faith, it’s important not to forget what God has done for us in the past. This will give us confidence for the future.
Look at the crucifix every once in a while, and remember the words that Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
These words are not just for Nicodemus. They are for us.