Short Reflections

by Deacon Gene

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Hidden Mountains
IF is a meaningful word
Discoveries and answers
We change, by the moment


Hidden Mountains:

The fog on the mountains this morning reminded me of this reflection which I wrote some time ago. So, I decided to make this my reflection for today.
One day, I went to the window of our seventh floor apartment. We live on the seventh floor of a senior living apartment complex which normally has a tremendous view of the mountains surrounding it. When I looked out the window, I noticed that it was so foggy that I could barely see the cars in the parking lot below. Then I looked straight ahead, where I usually see a whole group of mountains and I couldn't see anything.
As I stood there, looking into that haze, in my heart, I heard the Lord say: "Just because you can't see the mountains, does that mean they are not there anymore?" Of course, the answer was: "No, I know the mountains are still there." Again I heard: "Well, just because you can't see me, doesn't mean that I'm not here. I promised to be with you until the end of time and I am."
The more I thought about that the more I realized that the mystery of God's love and mercy is contained in that illustration. It also reminded me of the account in the Acts of the Apostles 1:9 where we read: "When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud took him from their sight." It does not say that he was taken to a far away place where he cannot be found.
But it requires faith and trust in God's word for us to recognize and acknowledge it. Even though we do not see God when we hear His word proclaimed, it is still the Lord our God who speaks to us. Although we do not see Jesus physically present in the Eucharist, but disguised under the appearances of bread and wine, He is still there.
The next time the thought enters your mind, or you hear someone question whether God is with us in a certain situation. Please remember to say: "Of course, I believe that God is in our midst even though we don't see Him, and in His Mercy He will supply all our needs.

IF is a meaningful word

Yes, IF is a small word of only two letters, but it can carry with it significant implications. In many instances it implies doubt, uncertainty or a decision made with reservations. That is what struck me as I heard the reading from the Book of Genesis, 28: 20, at Mass this morning.
"Then Jacob made a vow, saying, 'IF God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's household, THEN the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.'" Do we put that kind of conditions on our willingness to follow the Lord? When we put an IF in our prayer and a THEN before our response, we may be inadvertently doing just that. It seems to indicate a lack trust in the fact that the Lord is leading and a hesitation to follow without assurances.
But, in the words of the Lord, in Isaiah 48:17, we read, "Thus says the LORD . . . : 'I am the LORD, your God, teaching you how to prevail, leading you on the way you should go.'" We also read in the gospel of John 14:5 that Thomas said to Jesus, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life."
Developing that trust and willingness to follow requires a change of heart.
Some time ago, I found a hymn composed by Dr. Bob Hurd which contains the words that emphasize the trust and commitment required by the Lord.
It is entitled: "Transfigure us O Lord."
"Transfigure us, O Lord, transfigure us, O Lord. Break the chains that bind us; speak your healing word, and where you lead we'll follow. Transfigure us, O Lord."
Replacing the IF and WHEN with WHERE YOU LEAD I'LL FOLLOW in our commitment to the Lord will help to strengthen our faith and solidify our trust in His loving guidance.

Discoveries and answers

In (2 Kings 22:8), we read that Hilkiah was a Hebrew priest at the time of King Josiah. He is known for finding a lost copy of the Book of the Law at the Temple in Jerusalem at the time that King Josiah commanded that the Temple be refurbished. For him and for the people of Israel this was a great find. It was also seen by King Josiah as a reprimand by the Lord for the way their forefathers disobeyed the Lord.
Although we may not make that kind of a discovery in our lifetime, we may from time to time make smaller discoveries which can make a difference in our life. The key to making discoveries in our life is to keep searching, and the key to finding the answers to the questions in our life, is to keep asking the questions. In my own experience, sometimes you have to search for or ask the same question for a long time and when the answer comes, it may be in a way you just don't expect.
What we have to realize is that God speaks to us when, where and how He chooses and the answers we get to our questions are not always what we expect.

We change, by the moment, the hour and the day.

First of all, we have to realize that we are talking about physical, mental and spiritual changes.
I read recently that MAHATMA GANDHI once said, "Each night when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn." I gave that a lot of thought and began to realize that it is true. When my head hits the pillow and I close my eyes and drift off to sleep, everything that happened during that previous day is history. Everything I said . . . has been said, and everything I neglected to say . . . was not said. There were things I achieved and some at which I failed. There were things I bought or things I sold. There were good deeds I performed and mistakes I made. When I arise in the morning, it is a new day, with new challenges, new opportunities and a new me.
The person who starts this day was changed by the events of yesterday. Hopefully it was a day of growth and improvement. Hopefully it was also a day of giving and receiving. It is by giving of ourselves to others that we really receive. When we give of our time, our talent or our treasure to make someone smile, when we make someone feel appreciated or help them accomplish something in their life, is when we really feel alive and well ourselves. Doing things that come from the heart always causes us to be overwhelmed by what we receive in return.
May this day be one of giving and receiving and one in which we respond to the grace of each moment to the best of our ability, trusting that if we do our best, God will do the rest.

© 2004-2017 Gene P. Neral