All you nations, praise the Lord! Ps. 117
"How long are you going to keep us in
"My sheep hear my voice; ...
Today, and for the next several days, we might all be in suspense, waiting for the bells and white smoke to tell us we have a new Pope and who he will be. For us Catholics, that can bring some real anxiety. Judging from the outpouring of affirmation for the Holy Father's outreach on behalf of peace and dialogue across barriers, there could be anxiety around the world as we wait. How could any choice possibly "live up to" our often divergent expectations? Will the new Pope be as ...? Will the new Pope have new gifts for us, from the Holy Spirit?
Today's readings are a real consolation for us, as we continue to pray for God's own Holy Spirit to prepare the way for the election of the new Pope. And, they can help all of us in the midst of the everyday anxieties and worries we have.
Jesus takes away the suspense and all our insecurities when he tells us that he and the Father are one. We have been given to Jesus by the Father who loves us with a love beyond telling. No one can snatch us from the Father's loving hands. Jesus promises us security and confidence in his own embrace of us.
It doesn't mean we aren't tempted, however. A world that is terribly divided, human suffering that is unimaginable, political selfishness, abuse of power, a church with tensions across the entire spectrum, a questionable personal future, painful memories and scars, financial worries, a diagnosis of cancer, children or parents who are suffering, or a relationship that is not reciprocal and tests our daily hope. The promise of Jesus means that in the midst of attempts to snatch us away from his embrace, we can hear his voice, and realize we are not alone, and that we have the guarantee that nothing can separate us from his love, and that nothing can ever really cause us or our loved ones to perish. Eternal life is the ultimate gift that overcomes every death-dealing temptation and threat.
Today, let's renew our confidence in Jesus' love for us - a love
that heals wounds and drives out all fear. A day like today can
help us name our deepest desires and shape our simple conversation
with our Lord, in the midst of whatever tempts to distract us from
his love. And when the new Pope comes out on that balcony, let's
trust that the same Holy Spirit chose for us a holy shepherd that
will help us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our mission to advance
God's Kingdom together.
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