As Catholics we hear quite a bit about the love of God. We are reminded through the Mass Readings that God is always with us and we need not worry or be afraid. Sometimes, however, when we get back to those challenges of everyday life, it’s easy to forget or even minimize the Good News.
We hear the same message repeatedly. In Scripture we are continually reminded by Jesus to turn away from fear and worry and “be not afraid.”
I thought about these frequent and comforting words, and how often God uses them, as I was listening to the readings and a great homily on the Third Sunday of Easter with the Gospel message being from Chapter 24 of Luke. The disciples are recalling their dramatic encounter with Christ on the Road to Emmaus. Jesus suddenly appears to them, and they are frightened thinking they’re seeing a ghost. It was at the same time my husband and I were finalizing plans to help my mother with her decision to move into assisted living.
Jesus says, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”
Jesus gave the apostles what they needed exactly when they needed it, enabling them to move forward and eventually fulfill their mission to spread the Gospel. He does the same for us, if we’re aware of what I like to call those “God moments” or “God winks.” Maybe not as dramatic as what the apostles or some of our other great saints have experienced through the centuries, but powerful moments nonetheless that help us fulfill our mission.
More and more Baby Boomers are dealing with elderly parents, and the scenario we’re going through is being played out in families everywhere. My widowed mother recently turned 92. Mentally she is sharp. Physically it’s an entirely different story. Due to severe arthritis and balance issues she can no longer drive and cannot even take a few steps without a walker. A great Italian cook in her day, meal preparation has become a tiring chore. Despite our best efforts to visit her and bring her food, we all knew she would be better in a place where she would have constant care and be able to participate in activities and socialize with people her age. My husband and I were relieved that she came to this decision on her own but still worried how the process would work out.
Well, the Gospel message that Sunday reminded us to let God sort it out. I chuckled to myself during Mass as I remembered a powerful “God wink” affirming Mom’s big step. My husband had brought Mom to the assisted living center to do an interview with their nurse and to start filling out the necessary paperwork. Not only did this particular facility offer weekly Mass with a priest we know well, but it also offers a weekly Bible study and a faith-based book club. These were strong affirmations for us, but God wasn’t through with comforting and affirming us yet. As they were wrapping up, the manager and social director came over to introduce themselves. The social director proceeded to tell my mom about the book club and handed her the book they were currently reading. It just happened to be one of my books: “Girlfriends and Other Saints” (Word Among Us Press, $12.95).
Coincidence? More like that “God wink” or a “God-cidence.” Not as dramatic as the Lord materializing before us, but God shows up in all sorts of ways, making himself evident and reminding us, no matter what the challenge or decision.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio, and the author of “Beyond Sunday: Becoming a 24/7 Catholic” (OSV, $14.95).