13 November, Sunday — Walking in faith, whatever happens

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mal 3:19-20
2 Ths 3:7-12
Lk 21:5-19

“You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost.”

The Gospel of today used to trouble me. In my mind, I wondered: “If God is on my side, why would He allow bad things to happen to me?”. Even though this passage in Luke assures us that despite all these challenges, “not a hair of your head will be lost.”

This challenged me because I had believed the Lord would prepare the (worldly) road for me, that because I was a Christian, everything would be smooth sailing. I thought that because I was in the ‘right’ group, things would be easy for me.

I am now in my 50s, and with age comes the realisation, and understanding, that my ‘younger’ thoughts were mistaken.

This realisation was reinforced recently when my wife and I walked about one hundred kilometres on the Camino Ignaciano after preparing for it for a few months. From the initial short distances, I had become sufficiently fit, able to tackle the challenging hikes over rocks and slippery slopes. Under humid conditions, I could handle up to 15-18 kilometres in one go. I was ready!

Until I wasn’t. 

The night before the walk was due to start from Loyola, the home of St Ignatius, I was walking down a staircase after a mass at the Chapel of Conversion at the house of Loyola. I had not slipped; I just felt a slight pain in my knee as I descended. My knee swelled, and the pain was to become my constant companion throughout the Camino.

As I walked, I was soaked with many emotions, mainly anger. Anger with myself for not being careful (even though I was). Anger with God for allowing this to happen to me. Why? When I had done everything right in my preparations? Why? Why? Why?

There were many revelations along the Camino for me, revelations I will share in subsequent reflections. Interestingly, my knee healed, by itself, immediately after our last walk.

As I was preparing to write today’s reflection, I realised that I had been praying this: I was open to any message or lessons the Lord had for me as I walked the Camino. When asked by my fellow pilgrims, I kept saying that I had no specific intentions for the pilgrimage; I was waiting for His message! I believe I was praying for that as I attended mass at the Chapel before the fateful ‘accident’.

Through the challenges and pain I felt during the Camino, I never felt alone. I could hear God’s voice clearly and felt His hand in mine. The pain and discomfort I felt were necessary, and through it all, God never allowed any major harm to come to me. The pilgrimage would have been substantially different otherwise, and I needed to learn what I needed to learn.

Let us go forward with the confidence that whatever happens in our lives, our Lord will be there for us. These events may feel extremely adverse, but let us hold our faith and trust in God close to our hearts!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father, please help us to have faith in You, that You alone know what is best for us. Help us remember that our lives extend beyond our time here on Earth!

Thanksgiving: Thank You, Jesus, for teaching us a path that is not of this world. We are grateful that You are here for us, no matter what.

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