Sunday, March 17, 2013

5th Sunday of Lent

   Being from the Caribbean my family used to go to the beach all the time.  I remember one day, we went to a beach called Mar Chiquita, famous for its blue waters and strong waves.  For a 9 years old kit, I was (at least I thought) a pretty good swimmer. As I was playing in the waves with my cousins I lost my footing just long enough for the undertow to pull me under. I do not remember how long I was tumbling under water, I do remember that at one point I opened my eyes and the only thing I could see was blue all around me. As I tried to swim to the surface I realized there was a lot more water above my head than what I had originally thought. I was not scared and the thought of drowning never crossed my mind, but I knew I could not hold my breath for much longer.
    I wish I could convey the feelings of those few moments when my lungs were burning, and I realized that the only chance I had to reach the surface was to swim as hard could while resigning myself to swallow gallons of ocean water.
   Today’s readings, reminded me of the feelings of that day. You see this was the very first time in my life I felt completely helpless, the very first time in my life I was forced to accept that sometimes there is nothing you can do to help yourself, The very first time in my life I was forced to accept my luck, and allow forces which I knew were much more stronger and powerful that myself decide my destiny.
   In today’s Gospel we read about a woman in pretty much the same situation, a woman who was caught in sin, tittering between life and death too; brought to Jesus so that He could decide if she should live or die.
   I’m willing to bet that if we were to think about it, if we were to ask ourselves how many times have we been in the same situation?  Every one of us can recall very easily a moment or two in our lives in which we were as powerless as this woman.  I’m also willing to bet that if we look really hard, if we take time to examine our lives we will find that moments like these are much more common than what we like to admit to our selves, in fact, the reality is, that for many of us the felling that our lives are out of control, that we are at the mercy of forces much more stronger than us is a very real daily companion.
  The child that is been bullied, the wife that has been abandoned,  the unexpected diagnostic of a doctor,  the parents witnessing the slow self destruction of a child, the spouse confronting the sickness or imminent death of a beloved partner, the family living with the  absence of a loved one… I could go on and on. The point I’m trying to make is that, on the surface we might think we can handle anything live can throw at us, but on the inside… on the inside, more times that we like to admit, we all have felt like the poor woman of today’s reading,  like we are drowning underwater, not able to catch our breath, not knowing where we are going to go or what is going to happened next.
  I tell you my brothers and sisters if this were all there is to existence, life would be a horrible thing, a cruel joke. But Christians, for the followers of Jesus there is always hope. It is when we abandon ourselves to the mercy of God that we receive strength and consolation. Now this is not easy, in fact it is very hard to resist the temptation to act, to take maters into our own hands and tell ourselves “If I’m going I’m going to go awinging!” When what we should say are the words of St Paul in the second reading “For his sake I will accepted the loss of all things that I may gain Christ and be found in him” This is the attitude of the mature Christian when we are drowning in the waves of adversity.
    The woman brought to Jesus encountered Gods mercy.  Perhaps she did not realized who she was talking to, but when all other doors had close to her she found the one person that could forgive her sin.
   Many years ago, when I was ready to accept my fate, the use the words of the first reading God “opened a path in the mighty waters” In the last second, I felt a hand graving me and pulling me up, It was not the hand of God, it was the hand of my uncle, who was the only person who noticed I was missing. But this is the way God acts, by using those closest to us, to help us, guide us and support us.
   Sometimes we might feel, we are underwater, that we have run out of options, Sometimes the only choice is to do nothing and abandon ourselves to the mercy of God.