Father Mark, Reflections


How’s your harmony?  I mean how are all the different parts of you harmonizing together?  It’s been three weeks and much of our lives have been put on hold, suspended, changed—not the same.  We are being challenged to realize that we are not in charge of the Universe and that the power we have to choose revolves around the circumstances we can create in the context of the restrictions that life places on us.  For some of us, this acknowledgment is painful and difficult.  So maybe the question is found in not in “What do I want to create?”  But in “What does God want to create in me?”

David realized this while Saul was chasing him around the country trying to kill him when David had done nothing wrong.  It’s difficult to give thanks when being on the short end of injustice.  But give thanks David did:  “Hallelujah, O Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good.” (Psalm 106).

It’s hard to give thanks when things aren’t going our way and I am sorry to say that much of our culture is as wayward as the Israelite’s who gave thanks for their delivery from slavery while the next day complaining about not having the menu they were accustomed to while being slaves in Egypt.  God is not a waiter who takes our order of what we want from a menu.  But this is how many view God, as a celestial bell hop.

So why and what do we give thanks to God for, when life becomes difficult?  Does an umpire lose his rightness if players fail to play by the rules?  Does God lose goodness when people make choices outside the boundaries of created Reality?   It by God’s Nature of Goodness that God deserves our thanks.  David’s shares a secret of his spiritual experience.  It is by thanking God we focus upon Him and receive God’s presence.  Faith isn’t mimicking the mantra of The Little Engine that Could: “I think I can, I think I can.”  Paul experienced the very same phenomena: “In everything give thanks….” (I Thess. 5).

The root word of thanksgiving in Hebrew means “to enter the door of his presence.”  The word, good means that which is in perfect harmony with God.  I remember the song Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys.  Little did they know that this is exactly what harmony with God is.  The scholar Chaim Bentorah writes: When in tune with God you feel his vibrations, you vibrate with Him and that is His presence.  This is true power—to vibrate with the presence of God even when things around us seem to be going to hell in a handbasket.  Remember this as we enter the gauntlet of Holy Week with Jesus.

This harmony of God dynamic Life is where the rubber meets the road.  I have to be willing to give up my way (or the highway) as my priority to desire the presence of God more.   Our relationship with God is like a marriage.  I remember learning in a marriage counseling class that “Marriages aren’t made it heaven.  They are forged by hammer and heat.”   The fairy tale version of life is like the grass that fades away during the summer heat.  God’s love is so powerful that he transforms suffering into life—Eternal Life.

If you think about it, sometimes we get what we want.  So what’s smart here?  We can have the presence of God both when we get what we want and when we get what we don’t want–something like this COVID-19 pandemic that seems to be playing with our lives.  The virus may play with our schedules and activities but it doesn’t have the power to compromise our souls unless we give it that power.

Forge us into the souls you have created us to be, O God.  And just in case I forgot, “thanks.”

Peace and Harmony,

Fr. Mark