Thursday, June 29, 2017

Finding joy in the darkness

Fear can paralyze us. After my father died, it took me more than a year and a half to return to his home, my childhood home. With windows boarded up and weeds growing, the house sat abandoned until recently when I finally decided, and with my siblings’ promptings, that it was time.

I was overwhelmed. The emotions of dealing with my father’s home coursed through the full spectrum. But I found strength to find the positive side of the situation.

Pope Francis in his message for the 51st World Communications Day addressed the theme “‘Fear not, for I am with you’ (Is 43:5): Communicating hope and trust in our time.” In his message, he said, “Everything depends on the way we look at things, on the lens we use to view them.”

We need to remember this in the dark days that emerge from time to time in our lives. Through health struggles, family dramas, financial burdens. Also, we can’t escape the headlines filled with the tragedies occurring near and far.

James in his letter tells us, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (Jas 1: 2-3).

“Consider it all joy.” Easier to consider when we are not living in the middle of the storm. How do we proceed when it’s too dark to see? James reminds us we must ask God for wisdom, and that we must do so with faith. (Jas 1: 5-6)

It also requires us to consider the lens we use to view a moment we are living. Jun Ellorimo, a triathlete and trainer in Harlingen, shared with our group, “Struggles, challenges, obstacles, or anything that falls in that line are a part of life. We will all encounter that. As Christians, we are not spared from it.” Some struggles, he said, “will either 1. Destroy us; 2. Define us; or 3. Develop us. It’s our choice.”

Pope Francis in his message proposed, “that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits.”

“I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamorize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients.”

If we are to find solutions, we must rely on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Feast of Pentecost this month on June 4 is a good time to remember that we are each given gifts to share. Remembering, too, that we can’t share the gifts if we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear and other trials.

In our communication ministry, we recognize we have an important responsibility to share the stories in our diocese, a diocese that serves more than one million Catholics here in the Rio Grande Valley. In sharing the stories, we can see how God is always at work in our lives, we can indeed “consider it all joy.”

I am grateful for the grace to serve in this ministry and to do as Pope Francis asks, “offer people of our time storylines that are at heart ‘good news’.”

As Pope Francis notes in his World Communications Day message, “This good news – Jesus himself – is not good because it has nothing to do with suffering, but rather because suffering itself becomes part of a bigger picture.” He adds, “In Christ, God has shown his solidarity with every human situation.”

I’m not finished with my father’s home, with the emptying and sorting through what he left behind. I know too there are other moments that will test me, but I trust God will help me “fear not,” for he is with me. I also trust he will put people on my path to remind me and that we will remind and help each other find the joy in each moment.

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