Monday, May 30, 2011


"Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross." [Phillippians 2: 8].

We are still in the midst of the Easter season, and so, all these Easter and Resurrection themes remain in the forefront of my mind.

I have been meditating on Obedience lately. In this age of individual fulfillment and self determination, Obedience has come to be seen as an archaic concept. We strongly resist submitting to anyone's authority. How, we ask, can we essentially enslave ourselves to anyone else, even if that Person is God?! How dare anyone ask us to fulfill some duties; or to think first of the common good, before we think of ourselves?

These days, our foremost notion of God seems to be that He gave us free will and He made us unique and special creatures. All of this is true!

So our individual right to self expression is paramount, right? Only to a point. We do not need to transform this concept of personal uniqueness from the blessing that it truly is-- into a misguided worship of Self. To the exclusion of God.

Maybe it's because I have almost died so many times, by my last count about half a dozen times. I no longer take even my continued existence as a given.

Therefore I am here on this earth only by God's grace. That was true the first part of my life, and it will be so until the day I die. Everything I have, even my daily meals and my impossibly curly hair are gifts from God!

When I say my daily prayers, I say, God, I am here by your will. Here I am Lord, What will you have me do?

Far from being restrictive or even enslaving, this notion that I am here at the will of God, to fulfill His plan for me, is incredibly freeing! I watch God open doors for me and I ask myself, Do I dare to go through that door? If I do, what is on the other side for me? Sometimes this process is terrifying. I almost want to bargain with God and ask, Why me? Why now? How can You possibly think that I can do this?

The greatest critics of the Catholic Church say that we Catholics are all a bunch of sheep, blindly and gullibly following what the church leaders tell us to do. I completely disagree! When God calls me, I have to be bold to respond to the call. Not a blind follower. Not timid! Or I can choose to ignore the call. (I can tell you that ignoring it does not make it go away! God has a way of tracking me down).

When I was inspired to write this blog, I was given a voice. The voice I never had while growing up! In a few short months, this blog has gone from not even searchable on the web, to accessible on my parish web site, to instantly searchable on the most common search engine. When I dared to respond to the call, He opened doors!

I have told people that I feel like I lit a fuse.

I received validation for that feeling when I watched the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. In the homily, the priest quoted St. Catherine of Siena: "BE who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!"

The message I get from Obedience is that you cannot build your personal fulfillment on human endeavor alone. But if you dare to respond to the doors that God opens for you, there will be no stopping you!

God, may I be bold enough to seek obedience to You, so that you may help me to become who You meant me to be!

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day began after the Civil War, when Americans decorated the graves of deceased veterans. It used to be called Decoration Day.

On Memorial Day, I think of my own grandfather, who served in WWI. So many of us have relatives who served in wars past, or who are serving now.

I went to Mass today to honor my grandfather, to say thanks for his guts, his bravery, his strength. I also pray for a relative of mine who has served in Afghanistan.

Then, I think of the War on Terror. The killing of Osama bin laden.

We study history and we pore over descriptions of battles past. We ask questions like, "Who won the war?"

On this Memorial Day, I will say something that is perhaps radical:

In war, there are no winners.

Think of 9/11. The victims who died that day paid with their lives. What tragedy.  Their families lost precious loved ones. What tremendous sorrow. Recently Osama bin laden paid with his life. His death will not bring back the victims.

No, war produces no winners.

I hate war!  Call me a child, but I hate war!

Call me naive, but don't you wish that our troops could be peacekeeping troops, not troops called to war?

Lord, let peace reign.

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Spirit of Truth

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. . . . And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever --the Spirit of Truth. The world will not accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." [John 14: 1, 16-18].

This is Jesus, speaking to his disciples before His death, telling them that He is leaving them.

Simon Peter asks, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replies, "Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, but you will follow later." [John 13: 36].

The disciples are confused and anxious. They want to know how they will know what to do? How they will know their way?

Jesus explains that He will never leave them as orphans and that He will come to them! These are some of the most thrilling and comforting words of Scripture to me! I may get lost and confused and in despair, but I am never alone.

Jesus may be gone but He, and the Father, are with me always. They are with me through the Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.

I have been told a lot of lies in my life:  that I am a failure; that I am ugly; that my gifts are worthless; that there is no God; that prayer is only for the desperate; that money is what is to be worshipped; that church is a waste of time and money; that only hypocrites need God; that certain people are inferior; that it is "coddling" to give to charity, that the most important thing in life is work, not joy.

What lies have you been told?

Jesus may be gone from this earth and God may sometimes seem so very far away. But the Spirit of Truth is near, as close to you as your own heart.

As a child, I think that I did not want to believe all the lies I was told. Something inside me, the Spirit of Truth, inspired me to want something more, something better. You see, a child does not seek hate, only love. She does not want strife, she wants only peace. She does not want despair, she wants only hope. She does not want to be a victim, she wants only mercy. She does not want lies, she wants only wisdom and understanding. She does not want violence, she wants only gentleness and patience. She does not want a wholly secular world, she wants faith.

If you seek all these things, by the Holy Spirit, you are seeking Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth!  Jesus will lead you to the Truth-- to love, peace, hope, mercy, wisdom and understanding, gentleness and patience and even joy. All else are lies. And Jesus will never lie to you or abandon you!

In John 3, Jesus says, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!"

Jesus, how comforting and thrilling that you will come to me, with the Spirit of Truth, to guide me in my life. I need only trust in God and trust in you, and you will show me the way!

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Life

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life". [John 14]

Life, how precious it is!

Have you ever thought that if your parents never met, or if they decided not to have children, you would not be here?

Have you ever faced death? I mean, really almost died? I have, and I can tell you, it changes you. I have almost drowned at age 4 or so; been the victim of a violent crime and prayed for my life to be spared; had 2 trees almost fall directly on top of me (I ran for my life).

These near misses have made me more patient, with others, with myself. I am more grateful for the small moments in life: a tiny bird at my bird feeder, the first rich sip of coffee in the morning, the smile of a friend.

These near misses have enabled me to find God more in my life. He is the reason I am here to begin with. He is the reason I remain on this earth.

I ponder all this as I am about to attend a meeting at my son's school about the curriculum he will learn on Human Reproduction. I know that what he will learn will be very scientific: male vs. female anatomy, conception and reproduction.

A couple of things keep running through my mind here. One: I CANNOT believe I have a son old enough for Sex Education!

Two: But, I am not worried about this health unit. Or what the teachers will say.

You see, I had this conversation last year with my son. The year he came home asking what some "choice words" meant. Right after my hair finished curling, I decided that I wanted to be the one to control what he heard about human sexuality.

So I gave him "The Talk" myself.

I said, God gives us our bodies, so our bodies are from Him. That means that "The Act" between a man and a woman is sacred and holy. Do not mock it, take it in vain, make it profane, turn it into recreation. "The Act" needs to be loving, holy, special. It is a gift from God. I told him that he needs to be fully mature enough to comprehend this Gift. It is not for children.

When I was finished, my son had sort of an awe struck look on his face. I felt very grateful that he understood the preciousness of life and the great gift that we have been given in the ability to conceive life.

But I wonder, how many people would explain human sexuality this way? How many Christians would admit that this is how they give "The Talk" to their kids?

Do we just talk about the biology, the science, the anatomy of human sexuality? Do we acknowledge any role of God at all?

If we can thank God every day that we are alive, breathing, that our food is nourishing us, that perhaps our medicines are healing us, that we can speak and say "I love you" to our loved ones; why cannot we thank God for our sexuality and acknowledge that this physiological mechanism is also a Gift? We can watch a science film and feel awe at the pictures of a beating human heart. Or listen to a neurologist talk about the human brain and acknowledge that, it is such a complex and wondrous instrument, we may never fully understand it.

So WHY, then, do we reduce a woman to the sum of her various body parts? WHY is teen pregnancy the subject of a voyeuristic reality show? WHY do we snicker about our sexuality, or take it so casually that it is something to text about, or boast about, or tally up as if it were a personal contest?

In Romans 12:1, it is said, "Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship."

God, Life is a precious gift, the human body is a precious gift. May I always honor myself, and honor others, with the preciousness of life in mind.

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Way

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me. " [John 14:1-12].

Have you ever longed for the keys to Life? A way to gain a sort of compass to tell you who you should be or how you should proceed?

Life can be very confusing. I have to say, I became very confused as a kid.

I heard adults, important adults, even my family, saying things like: "Money makes the world go 'round." Or, "The Almighty Dollar is more important than anything."

I heard, " I don't care what other people think! You need to think of yourself first."

I heard, "You do NOT give your money away to charity. 'Those people' need to learn to help themselves."

I heard, "People who go to church are hypocrites. Church is a waste of time and money. Only losers, who cannot accomplish anything on their own, need God."

I heard, "People who are Catholics are ignorant and gullible. They believe anything the Church tells them. They cannot think for themselves."

So I grew up with all this dissonance going on in my head. Even more confusingly, my parents (believe it or not), took me to church.

There, I heard, "Jesus loves me, this I know." And, "It is better to give than to receive."

In my church, there was a stunning stained glass window above the altar, with a representation of Jesus. His eyes seemed real to me and they seemed to stare at me with such glittering intensity, sometimes I had to look away. Painted on the rafter immediately above the altar , in gilt, were the words, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."

I used to go only to God for with my problems. Only God. My sad childhood seemed to need Big Prayers. So I went directly to God, the Boss, the "Chairman of the Board". Somehow I thought my prayers to Him were stronger, more valuable.

I bypassed the Son of Man, the person in human form that God sent to us, to guide us and teach us. What a youthful mistake.

I am becoming closer to Jesus now. I love His words. I love the image of His tender love for us in the image of the Good Shepherd. I NEED to hear the Truth, about my life, about how to live.

I seek Life, not the death embedded in my family's teachings :  the materialism, the selfishness, the judgment of others, the persecution, the lack of love.

Jesus, may I always seek You, and in You may I find the Truth, the Way to Your love and to the love of Your Father!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cafeteria Catholics

"Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." [Romans 12: 9, 211].

For so many years, I thought that I could never become Catholic. It was not just my family's prejudice, their stark unwillingness to stand in the receiving line at my wedding to my Irish Catholic husband; or to even enter my in-laws' house. No, that was hard enough.

Or maybe I thought that it was good enough for me to simply attend Mass but not to actually sign up as an official parishioner. I was present, wasn't I? I listened to the homilies.

Then there were the "Rules". The Commandments, like "Thou shalt not kill". Child's play?!

Uhhh. Maybe not.

I asked a mom I knew, "How DO you live with being a Catholic? " She said, Oh, it's called a Cafeteria Catholic. You pick the rules you like. And leave the rest.

Whoaa! Somehow, I do not think that God or Jesus meant for us to indulge in that half-hearted, selective, personally convenient way of thinking!

Are you a Catholic who says,  "Well, all life is precious. The unborn have a right to be given life. After all millions of unborn babies have been killed. BUT if an adult commits a heinous crime, he deserves to die"---?

Some Catholics have argued that it is more important to save the millions of people suffering from hunger, than it is to save the lives of a few hundred prisoners on death row.

Perhaps you proclaim yourself solidly against sexual abuse but when it comes right down to it, you do not support a victim's ability to bring a case to court because,  most of the time, the victims' story is "unreliable." All "those people" want is money anyway, right?

Maybe you agree that hate is murder of the soul and that child abuse is a form of hate. But you find yourself verbally abusing your child for forgetting his homework, telling him that he is an idiot? Or when he gets cranky and cries, you tell him, Thanks  for ruining my life!

Maybe you subscribe to Jesus' teaching that we love one another from the heart, but when it comes to gays in the military or in your church, you are not so sure if they have a place in either of these institutions, or anywhere at all ?

It is extremely difficult to be a Catholic. People seem to assume that we are all homogeneous, blind believers in what Jesus teaches. In what the Catholic church teaches. Outsiders often hate us for this. We can come across as demagogues. Fanatics. Sometimes I think that we Catholics even hate each other over these debates.

But what makes us uniquely human is: 1) our gift of language and our ability to debate; 2) our compassion and sensitivity to one another and 3) the ability to evolve and change our minds.

God truly meant for us to change and grow, as we deepen our faith and our relationship with Him.

In my own case, my destiny in becoming a mother was by no means assured. It was only after the birth of my son  that I truly understood my stance against abortion. I went from instinctively pro-life, to deeply and emotionally in awe at the miracle of life.

The teachings of Jesus are radical, and often extremely challenging to follow. I cannot always, in my human-ness, measure up. But each day, I strive to learn, to evolve, to emulate Jesus ever more closely.

It is more important to me to keep stumbling and pick myself up endlessly, than to give up on being a follower of Jesus.

It is more important to keep gently conversing with others about Jesus' teachings, than to exclude other Catholics who do not see things the same way.

I think that Jesus meant us to teach and help each other in this journey. Not to drop each other by the wayside if a member of the flock struggles. Or become so divided that we are not even a church any longer.

God, we are one flock but we are not all the same. Help me to love and grow with You!

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 16, 2011

His Flock

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. . . .and I lay my life down for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of the sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." [John 10: 14-16].

When I was a child, I did not know who I belonged to. It did not seem that I belonged to anyone.

I was told that I was English. True, I was partly English, but the Irish part seems to have been swept under the rug. I was taken to church long enough for Baptism, Sunday School and First Communion, then that "church thing" quietly stopped.

I was not taught that I was Irish. Or that I had Catholic roots.

We seemed to have few or no relatives.  Some relatives lived in another part of the state. Other relatives lived in another state entirely, hours away. Other relatives lived in another country altogether.

I had a brother, but we fought a lot. I did not call him "friend."

We had neighbors that we were not especially close to.

I was teased and bullied, most of  the time for things I could not help, for the shape of my nose, my God-given intelligence, what my grandfather did for a living.

Was it any wonder that I hid in my room, making my homework perfect, reading anything I could get my hands on, even the dictionary? Was it any wonder that in my neighborhood and at school, I became a silent observer of everything around me?

I became alienated, alone. I did not even know who I was.

As humans, we long to belong -- to something, to Someone!

This Reading tells us that we do belong-- to a great flock called Christians. And our shepherd is Jesus. We are called Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

How many times in the last few years have I felt relief and joy in finally belonging to Someone. I finally know who I am. I have a flock. A clan.

This reading says that we are one flock. This was Jesus' intent. Today, are we still one unified flock?  Or, do we hang back, split hairs over denominations, cast aspersions on Christians who are "different" from ourselves?

I wonder at the Christians who huddle together as Catholics, but do not pay any attention to "the other sheep" that are not from this sheep pen. Do you pray with, or gather in community with other Christians of different denominations? Do you consider them all part of one flock, one shepherd?

I wonder at Catholics who grumble about the priests coming to this country from abroad. Do we not need more shepherds of Christ who will lead us with integrity, compassion and joy-- and do we not celebrate those priests no matter what part of the globe they come from?

I wonder at Catholics who whisper that most of the growth in our church comes from immigrants, as if these Christian brothers and sisters are lesser members of the flock?!

I wonder at Catholics who are almost ashamed of who they are. Who want to go under the radar. Who do not come to Mass regularly, to simply be with their Christian family.

I grew up isolated. I had no close relatives. I had faraway relatives whose names or addresses I did not even know; I had no accurate ethnic history, no religion, no sacred rituals, no personal context.

How huge it is to gain a Family, simply by calling myself Christian and by following Christ!

I have no family of origin around me, yet in a way this is strangely freeing. If no one is my family, then everyone can be my brothers and sisters in Christ! I think in a way, this is what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to leave their families, and to follow Him.

I pray that as Christians, we never take the sacred gift of our spiritual ties for granted. Jesus is our shepherd and He makes us who we are, one Family! In following His voice, may we find each other.

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


"That same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. As they talked and discussed [everything that had happened], Jesus himself came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing him.  . . .As they approached the village, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, 'Stay with us. .' When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him. They asked each other, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" [Luke 24:13-32].

This is one instance, of many, in which Jesus appears to his disciples and his followers, after His death and Resurrection.

In one such appearance, Jesus comes before Mary Magdalene outside the tomb. [John 20: 10-18]. He says to her, simply, "Mary". She cries out, "Teacher!" Jesus says to her, "Do not hold onto me, for I have not yet returned to the Father."

But we DO want Jesus to remain around us forever. We do NOT want to contemplate Jesus leaving us! These "burning hearts" that the disciples on the road to Emmaus speak of? It is the longing for the Christ.

These disciples say to Jesus, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over."  Have you ever spent some time with a dear friend, and as the day grows dim, you realize that you do not want the visit to end? So you beg your good friend to at least stay for dinner?

This is how Jesus' disciples must have felt. And yet, at first, they did not recognize Him! They had no idea that this was Jesus, whom they longed for so. They were able to see Jesus, to recognize Him, only when Jesus broke bread with them.

It is in the breaking of the bread that the disciples finally really saw Jesus. For us, it takes partaking in the Eucharist for us to recognize Jesus in our own lives. 

The Eucharist helps us to embody Jesus, and to embody the love which He taught us to infuse with our every action.

The Eucharist is the same in every Catholic church the world over. No matter where I go in the world, in a Catholic church, receiving Communion, I am one with Christ, and one with the parishioners, and one with Catholics all over the globe. I felt alone most of my life, but now, I belong to someone: to Jesus, to a Church, to a Being (God) larger and holier than myself.

The Eucharist binds me with my family. As I proceed up to the altar, my son ahead of me and my husband behind me, I am embedded in my own nuclear family. But, I am also a member of the Christian family.

The Eucharist overwhelms me with joy and awe. After my First Communion, my family stopped going to church.  So in my early teens, I was no longer able to receive Communion. If I asked to go to church, I was told, "We already did that."  If you have ever been denied Communion, only to be able to finally receive it again many decades later, you will fully feel the relief, the awe, the gift that it is to receive this Sacrament. Every time that I receive Communion today, I go back to my pew, I bury my head in my hands and, with tears in my eyes, I thank God that I am no longer barred from receiving Jesus -- and God. I can worship freely.

So, no, we do not want Jesus to leave us, ever. And He is here with us, as long as we are able to receive the Eucharist. And in receiving this Eucharist, we are never alone!

Lord, in the Eucharist, may we always recognize You in our hearts! In the Eucharist, may Your presence always be with us. May we never be alone!

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Prayer Day

Today is our National Day of Prayer. It is the 60th annual observance of National Day of Prayer. All around the country, we gather to pray as a people, as a nation.

In my town, the National Day of Prayer observance is being held around the flagpole at Town Hall.

In New York City, President Obama is laying a wreath at Ground Zero where the 9/11 attacks took place.

Certainly, we have a lot to pray for this year. Prayers are needed for the people of this country and for the people of the world. In this country, there is hunger, joblessness, child abuse, the recent tornadoes  and so forth. In the world, we think of Haiti, Japan, the conflicts in the Middle East, the aftermath of 9/11 that we are still dealing with.

How do YOU pray?

I remember about a year ago, taking a wonderful retreat at a nearby monastery. The theme was meditation and finding God. The priest who led the retreat said, 'Each of us has three people inside us, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We should at least all be talking to each other!'

Sometimes, I forget to pray.

I forget that I can always talk to God, not just in church, but anywhere, even in my car or at the beach.

I forget that I can talk to God about anything! Even about the troubles I am having with my furnace or with the family pet!

Sometimes I try little "tricks", so I remember to pray. For example, instead of Grace before meals, I ask each member of my family to "say something good". Often what comes out is a heartfelt thank you to another family member.

Each year after Christmas, I keep the Christmas cards we have received for some time. I put them in a basket on the kitchen counter or on the family room coffee table. Each day, I ask my son to pick out a card. That is the person or family that we pray for that day!

If I am talking to a friend or family member about a particularly rough time they are having and I truly do not know what to say, I simply pray that the Holy Spirit comes to them and guides them.

Prayer is awesome, powerful. When you pray, you are never alone, you are with God. Some have asked me why, how I am so close to God? I reply, Even if you have no other human being in the world on your side, you always have God!
And you do not have to pray alone. "When two or more are gathered together, God is present!" Being together with others in prayer is like a magnifier. There is something about the awesome power of a common plea uttered as a prayer. Have you evern heard monks chant together, or priests singing at another priest's funeral? Prayer together makes the experience stronger, It makes us more peaceful.

I pray with my Bible Study class. I pray with other women in my Moms in Touch International group. I pray with fellow parishioners in church. I pray with the members of my church's Prayer Network. I pray with members of my Prayer Shawl Ministry.

Prayer is fundamental to what it means to be a Christian. I think of the summer when I volunteered at our local Vacation Bible School. I was in the pre-school room, helping with the 3 and 4 year olds. At morning circle time, we were talking about the Scripture for the day. At the end, the leader asked, Was there anything else that any child had to say? A tiny four year old boy raised his hand and said, "Yes! Always remember to pray!"

All the adults in the room sat, stunned! Such wisdom, out of a tiny child.

"Always remember to pray!"

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


"On the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' . . . The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Thomas was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!'. Thomas said, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my  finger where the nails were, and put my hand in his side, I will not believe it.' A week later, the desciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked,  Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' [John 20: 19-26].

Jesus then showed his wounds to Thomas, and said to Thomas, 'Stop doubting and believe!'

Thomas said to him: "My Lord and my God!"

The first time I read this Scripture, I thought, really, Thomas is in Big Time Trouble here! As Christians, especially as Catholics, we are not supposed to doubt, are we? We are supposed to have blind faith, the kind of faith that is pure and totally holy -- uncorrupted by any shred of doubt or fear.

I always read this passage as kind of a scolding from Jesus. He ends by saying, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.".

I was not raised in faith and I was arguably not even raised a Christian (I WAS taken to church but those who grew up attending church only by rote and not by deep belief, know what I mean.) So my Faith has taken various dips and turns and unexpected routes.

As a small child, I suppose I could suspend my disbelief. After all, Santa was "real", and to me witches were "real", especially around Halloween. So this business about Jesus dying and going to Heaven for us, it all seemed terribly serious. To the extent I even understood all those big words. But I was willing to take it all at face value.

Then I became a teenager and a Professional Cynic. I did not seem to need God. From there, it was a fairly short leap, from an uneasy faith, to wondering why Jesus would bother to "save" us this way. What did I need saving from anyway?  And before you know it, for a time, I was questioning if God even existed.

And I had grown up with family telling me that God was the Province of the Desperate. That is, only those folks who had absolutely nothing else going for them-- no intelligence, no money, no friends or family, no job, no education-- would turn to God for help.

But it seemed that God simply waited for me. He waited me out! God is infinitely patient, isn't He? And sure enough, I realized that life was vastly more painful and complicated for me than I at first thought. Instead of wondering if God existed, I began wondering, Why DIDN' TGod exist? Instead of wondering what I needed saving from, I wondered who this Jesus was who could save me? I began to go from fear and doubt, to Hope!

Now I see this Scripture as a story of the great Gift of Doubt. Sure, it is much better if we can believe without seeing.

But not all of us can do this. If we are not strong enough, insightful enough to believe without seeing, we can sit with our doubt and see what comes of it.

Doubt makes us so very human. It is no good wishing we were more divine, more perfect. We ARE human. We DO doubt. We DO fear.

In my times of great fear, wishing I had the courage to reach out with blind faith and become closer to Jesus, I have found myself wondering if Jesus could come to me. Could He come and reassure me, rescue me? If  I feel blind and lost, and if I withdraw in my doubt and fear, like the disciples in that locked room, can Jesus come to ME?

With great joy, I have discovered in this Scripture, that, yes, Jesus CAN come to me! He can find me even if I am hidden away in doubt and fear. He can find me wherever I am. He can even walk through doors and walls to get to me.

And now I also see that, in a way, this Doubt is a Gift, because it is an opening that invites Jesus to come to me, to bid me "Peace", to encourage my faith in Him.

Doubt is a gift, because Jesus is so eager for us to believe in Him and to follow His Way, that He is willing to come to us, unbidden.  He is willing to be so human as to show us His wounds.  He is willing to help us to battle our doubts by revealing Himself to us!

 As long as we seek that reassurance, that strengthening of our faith, Jesus will come closer to us, offering up His wounds, bidding us Peace.

Lord, may I believe in you without seeing. But if I fear or doubt, I pray that you come to me and invite me closer, to see and to believe!

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