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Father Muench Says...

Life changes in a couple of short weeks

Nov. 26, 2014

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

My question this week has often been “Why me, Lord?”

I know my confessor would immediately respond to me – this is not a good question – there are more important concerns.  Why do you think you are so special that God is spending time going after you?  A much more important question to occupy my attention “Why not me, Lord?” The answer to that question is actually not so complicated.  I have so much to learn – so much that I have yet learned in my life.  It is about time for me to get busy.

So, as I reflect and look over my life, I know only too well that I have been blessed by the Lord – constantly blessed. I’ve had no big crises, no challenging health problems in my life.  This moment in my life – this major surgery - has suddenly given me a new and important phase in my life.  I have written often about suffering yet, have suffered little.  All of a sudden I have experienced suffering.  Now in just a couple of short weeks things have changed.  I have gone to a new place in life and have entered a new experience in my life’s journey.  I have suffered – and that is a rather new experience for me. 

The story that comes to me today is the story of St. Father Damien.  I am certain that you have heard about  Father Damien who volunteered to minister to the leper colony in Molaki.  Leprosy is a highly contagious disease especially in those days and yet Father Damien’s faith and dedication was so strong that he was valiantly willing to be chaplain to these lepers.

As time went by he did contract leprosy.  However, his ministry to these folks took on a whole new strength and vigor; he actually considered his leprosy a gift from the Lord.  Now he could stand before his people and honestly know exactly what they were going through.  He could speak of them as his brothers and sisters. He was one of them.

It is called Incarnation. Advent and Christmas celebrate our belief in Incarnation as Jesus, the Son of God, became one of us to teach us, to live among us, to experience all that we as humans. He came to die for us and lead us to new life in the resurrection.

In this way, there is not one of us who can say to the Lord “You don’t know what I am going through, Jesus.”  Instead our prayer should always be “You know us, Jesus. You know what our life is about. Please help me.  You know what I am now going through.”

I will now see suffering in a new and different way.  I think I can preach about suffering in a much better way. I have been there, Lord.

I would like to share with you a meditation from the writings of Thomas Merton:  “Lord, I have not lived like a contemplative.  The first essential is missing.  I only say I trust You.  My actions prove that the one I trust is myself – and that I am still afraid of You.  Take my life into Your hands, at last, and do whatever You want with it.  I give myself to Your love and mean to keep on giving myself to Your love – rejecting neither the hard things nor the pleasant things You have arranged for me. It is enough for me that You have glory.  Everything You have planned is good.  It is all love.

The way You have laid open before me is an easy way, compared with the hard way of my will which leads back to Egypt, and to bricks without straw.  If You allow people to praise me, I shall worry even less, but be glad. If you send me work I shall embrace it with joy and it will be rest to me, because it is Your will. And if You send me rest, I will rest in You.”

“My intention is to give myself entirely and without compromise to whatever work God wants to perform in me and through me.”          

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