God Is In Our Midst
Today’s Gospel passage from St. Luke proclaims, “God has visited his people!”
This is the reaction of the people when they witness Jesus raise a young man from the dead and return him to his mother. I believe this gospel declaration begs the question of all of us—when was the last time we had an experience in life that caused us to feel that God was visiting God’s own people, or, that somehow we felt God was in our midst? Certainly there are such stories being related in the midst of people being saved from all manor of disasters and terror these days, that just seem to refuse leaving the news cycles. At the same time, even as people mourn the loss of loved ones, words of consolation, presence at funerals, and overflowing charity can still cause one to feel that God is present—God has not abandoned me/us.
My own heart is filled with a depth and gratitude and love for all of you for the outpouring of affirmation that I have received at the time of loss in my own family. From you I have experienced profoundly “God visiting God’s people.” St. John’s words say it in another way: “Those who abide in love, abide in God, and God in them.” If at times, as a priest, I have felt the absence of God, or of Jesus at my side, I now have fresh assurances of God’s presence to help erase any doubts and to reinvest in God’s sufficient grace. I pray that same experience and assurance for each and all of you who mourn the loss of loved ones. So many lately!
I pray that all of you have experienced the reward of your own goodness and that these days and our days going forward together are filled with the conviction that God is visiting God’s people—all the time! We just need to stop, look, and listen. We spend our lives re-understanding and rediscovering Jesus’ mission to redeem and “to raise from the dead.” Perhaps one of the most important elements of the gospel witness today is that Jesus “returned the son to his mother.” Who of us could not feel the depth of that! Think of parents whose sons and daughters were returned to them both in all of the recently reported acts of terror and of natural destruction. We may extrapolate this truth of Jesus’ mission to our experience of him repeatedly restoring us to life in his Holy Body and of being returned to our Holy Mother, his Church.
As we proclaim just before Holy Communion: Through Him – With Him – and In Him, let the message of the Gospel be brought home to us: God in Jesus and in The Holy Spirit is always visiting us. This is graduation season, and we all need to gift all the classes of 2016 with this hope! May they know in their lives unfolding this eternal truth.