Thursday, February 9, 2012
In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical on birth control. There were numerous reports that the Pope would approve the use of artificial contraception. However, Pope Paul VI in his famous encyclical, Humanae Vitae, reaffirmed the traditional Catholic teaching on birth control and abortion and now over 40 years later it is regarded by many as prophetic.
He warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:
1. General lowering of moral standards
2. A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
3. The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.
4. Government coercion in reproductive matters.
Does that sound familiar?
It sure sounds like what's been happening for the past 40 years.
I thought I would share a reflection I put together based upon the readings from the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time. It is based on the readings: Job 7:1-4-7, Psalm 147, 1 Corinthians 9:16-23, Mark 1:29-39. I hope there is something that speaks to you. Enjoy.
I have come to realize that at times in each of our lives it is far easier to focus our attention on the negative rather than the positive or on the challenges rather than the blessings. I know that each of us have our share of struggles and certainly there are some whose difficulties seem unbearable. However, in my personal journey of faith and throughout my ministry, I have learned that whenever there are painful and challenging moments there are equally, if not more so, abundant blessings to be seen and experienced. The temptation for all of us is not to simply stare at the negative nor just see what's wrong with me and my situation, but to see what God is doing to fill each of our lives with blessing and strength.
I'm not naive to think this is easy to do, especially when one's world is crashing in like we hear from Job in the first reading today. I, like Job, can easily turn to anger or want to give up when things aren't going my way or when things are not happening according to my plan. Yet, we as Christians can never lose hope. We cannot turn to despair. We must not think that God has forgotten us or takes pleasure in our sufferings. Our faith enables us to trust, to open our eyes to what God is doing and to believe, profess and proclaim with certainty the words of Psalm 147, "Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted." Our God looks to heal us! As the Psalm continues, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
I believe that God binds our wounds and heals us by sending us the graces and blessings needed to help us persevere in the face of adversity. To not give in or give up! The Gospel today reminds us that God is present and that God looks to heal us. Jesus' purpose was to proclaim this message of hope. Jesus shows us the healing and saving presence of God. Despite our struggle, pain, disappoint, or challenge, God is inviting us to enter into it and await with confidence His redeeming love. God is looking to turn the struggle into victory, the pain into joy, the disappoint into opportunity, and the challenge into triumph.
We, like Jesus, must be rooted in prayer. Prayer will not necessarily remove the pain, but will remind us of God's presence and love despite the cross we bear or sufferings we experience. Prayer will help us to see God's blessings in the midst of any storm. May we use this day as an opportunity to reflect not on where we think God should be acting, but to see where God is present providing us His blessing. May St. Paul inspire each of us with the reason why we persevere, "All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it."