Risen, Body and Soul

One of my favorite books growing up was, “We Thought We Heard the Angels Sing.” It’s the heart-wrenching true story of a group of soldiers during WWII who were stranded on life rafts in the Pacific Ocean for weeks. Throughout the story, some of them die, some come very near to death, and some find God out there on those rafts. I always wondered what it would be like if you experienced something like that, but it never changed you on the inside. If your body came near to death and was miraculously saved, but it had no effect on your soul. I wondered if that was possible. This brought me to the thought that it would have been better to die out there lose to Jesus than to live without a relationship with Christ. This brings us to today’s readings.

These readings speak about the beauty of resurrection, not only of the body but of the soul. We need this message of resurrection now more than ever. Lent is always difficult because it’s a waiting period before we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This year, Lent has been particularly difficult, as we hear and witness so much pain and suffering around us. With a massive pandemic like this, it’s easy to ask for physical healing, but this is also a great time to ask the Lord how we need to be saved spiritually, how we need to be spiritually resurrected.

Most parishes are still offering confessions during this time, with proper social distancing measures in place. If we are willing to quarantine for weeks for the health of ourselves and others, how much more should we be willing to do for our souls? Maybe it has been a while since you have been to confession. Maybe it’s a terrifying aspect of the faith to confess your sins to someone else. I don’t know where you are at in your relationship with God, but I do know that we are given a chance to be made new at every confession we make.

If you are unable to make a confession during this time, then I encourage you to make a perfect contrition. Perfect contrition is where we ask God for forgiveness not because we are scared of hell, but rather, because we are sorry we have hurt God. This is a time that we can make sure we are healthy physically by taking necessary precautions, while also taking necessary precautions to make sure we are spiritually healthy as well. The closer we get to God during this time, the stronger we will be when we make it through.

I want to share this Youtube video of a song from the popular musical, “Dear Evan Hanson.” I like to listen to the words as if God is singing to me. He wants to give us His mercy; we need only to ask. God Bless you during this time!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is Director of Evangelization for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative and the founder of Rodzinka Ministries. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and a flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.

A Time of Germination

In today’s Gospel, we are brought face to face with a plethora of opinions about Jesus. There are those who think he is the Messiah. Those who think he is just a guy from Galilee. Some are afraid of him. Others worry he will upset their place in politics.

And the thing is, this passage from John doesn’t resolve the dilemma for us. We are left to make up our minds as to which opinion reflects our heart.

Here we are, just over halfway through Lent, in a crazy, mixed-up, upside-down world where every day we are asked to decide what we believe is true and the role we will play in the common good, and now, the Gospel brings us an example of more confusion? I can get that from Facebook, thank you very much!

But wait, what if that is exactly the point? What if, in a world of confusion, we are being called to be a beacon of perseverance and stability? What if, when all those about us are losing their way, we become even more committed to The Way?

What a relief! This means I don’t have to get it all at once. I don’t have to figure out what is happening in our world. I don’t have to have all the answers, because I know the one who does. I know which opinion reflects my heart; I belong squarely with Jesus. Believing in Jesus isn’t just something I say; it becomes part of who I am. The same me who feels so inadequate to lead, who isn’t sure about much right now, is transformed by God’s mercy. I can think beyond how what is happening around me impacts me to seeing how I can impact how all this affects others. I can choose to take this time of enforced slow down as an opportunity to open myself up to God’s grace and allow him to replace my heart of stone with his own heart. I can take time for phone calls. I can write letters. I can finish my nephew’s long-awaited quilt. I can slow down the prayers with my husband so that they aren’t a hurried part of a morning routine but a true reflection of my soul. I can make my bed in the morning and polish my sink at night. All those little things I have sacrificed at the altar of doing other important stuff is now the heart of my days. And in those little things, I feel Christ’s peace and connect with the Father’s mercy even in the midst of so much unknown.

In this time of deprivation and withdrawal, let us be like germinating seeds, soaking in the moisture and nutrients so that when we break through the soil and reach the sun again, we will be ready to thrive.

“Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.”

Contact the author

Sheryl delights in being the number 1 cheerleader and supporter for her husband, Tom who is a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. They are so grateful for the opportunity to grow together in this process whether it is studying for classes, deepening their prayer life or discovering new ways to serve together. Sheryl’s day job is serving her community as the principal for St. Therese Catholic School in Wayland, Michigan. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.

New Priorities

As I write, the governor is on live shutting down our state. Many have already succumbed to the quarantine, and surely the rest of the country will follow soon. People keep saying we are living in unprecedented times, and surely that is true, but my mind keeps wandering to other unprecedented times.

What about the people of Israel that wandered in the desert for 40 years? What about those who survived the flood? What about those who lived through the plagues? What about those who went through the potato famine or droughts or pestilence?

My husband and I were reading up on the Great Depression over the weekend. I remember my grandmother, born in early 1929, saying that a piece of fresh fruit was such a treat that she would even eat the peel of an orange. I could never imagine such a time… until now. 

While we didn’t buy into the hysteria, we did get two weeks’ worth of groceries, and it is yet to be seen whether we have enough TP. We’ll get through it, just as so many people got through other major trials and tribulations throughout history. 

We will gather strength from each other, we will help each other, we will lift each other up when we are down, and we will grasp desperately to our God and depend fully on Him. 

Many people have their theories about what we are living through. Some think it may be the end of the world. Some think it’s a wake-up call. Some think it’s all a hoax. Some think it is a gross exaggeration. Others are scared to death. 

I tend to look at it as an opportunity to turn our hearts back to God. We have gotten so off track, so self-centered, so technology-centered. And while up until now most of us still have access to the internet and our devices, I would like to extend an invitation. Turn them off. Stop checking for the latest news every 5 minutes. Stop driving yourself crazy worrying, wondering, and complaining. Be present in the moment. Spend time in silence. Still your heart. Commune with your God. We are being allowed this time to get our priorities straight, namely, God and family. 

“When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.”
(from Psalm 34) 

Let today’s Psalm assure you: The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.

Contact the author

Tami grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling home improvement projects, finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for almost 20 years.

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places

I did something difficult this past week: I wrote my will. (Yes, of course, I should have done it ages ago; let’s take that as read.) While I am naturally hoping it won’t come into play in the near future, the truth is I have a significantly increased chance of dying now than I had a month ago. Hence the will.

Not, mind you, that I own a lot. My mortgage company and I co-own my cottage. I have a cat. That’s pretty much it—I thought. And then I got to the page where it discussed intellectual property, and I think I actually exclaimed “whoa!” out loud.

I have intellectual property. I write mystery novels. Not the Great American Novel, not even an ephemeral bestseller or two; but still, I write novels that, I am told, make for satisfying entertainment. On one hand, this doesn’t matter much, since there aren’t torrents of money coming in from them. On the other hand, who do I name as literary executor? Who is the person I trust with all my aspirations and dreams, my mistakes and my successes, my old outdated articles and my not-yet-published potential masterpieces?

Who do I trust?

It’s impossible to reflect on Scripture without seeing it through the lens of the present moment. It’s impossible to hear the word of the Lord and not also hear it echoing through our own lives and our own experiences. So, like everyone reading this, I am aware of the challenges of living and thinking—of everything I do, in fact—in the midst of a global pandemic. How can that not influence how we hear God’s voice? Every Biblical writer looked around themselves and said, “Look at the world! What are you doing? What am I doing?” It’s a cry for the ages.

And we find ourselves taking it up anew today.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is telling us who he is. He emphasizes how the Jews are looking for the meaning of life in the wrong places. Their thinking cannot make the connection between what they know and who they see before them; they lack that light. And the reality that shines through this reading—and to some extent also through the previous readings, the passage from Exodus and the psalm—is that we persist in looking for meaning in the wrong places. It’s the ongoing story of humanity.

Who do we trust? In Exodus and Psalm 106, we trusted a golden calf. In the Gospel, we trust in the things that point toward Jesus—the words of Scripture, the life of Moses, the appearance of John the Baptist—rather than in Jesus himself.

There’s a country song that bemoans the singer’s tendency to be “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Isn’t that what we do when we’re looking everywhere but at God? We look at the divisions and issues in the Church and we accuse God of not taking better care of us. We create pollution in our streams and earth and ask God why he allows children in those polluted areas to die. We listen to the promises of politicians and follow them even when it means moving away from our faith. Why are we looking everywhere but to Christ?

That’s how I resolved my dilemma, by the way. I asked myself where I should be looking. I looked at the people closest to me and asked myself, who loves my work? And once I asked the right question, the answer became immediately clear; I knew right away who it should be. Who I could trust. I had broken the issue down to its most basic reality, stripped it of all the extraneous “stuff” I’d put there. I finally asked the right question, looked in the right direction.

If we ask the question, who loves me? then our answer becomes clear, too. In the words of another song, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” Who do I trust? This I know.

It’s so easy in a time of chaos to let fear take the wheel. Fear makes us turn away from the right questions and the right road. Fear sows divisions and hatred among us; it helps us make bad decisions and turn to the darkness. We have to experience fear, but we don’t have to stay there. We can write our wills. We can take health and safety precautions. We can turn away from the golden calf, stop looking for love in all the wrong places, and instead rest in the love of the Lord.

This I know.

An optional prayer over the people from today’s Mass seems a fitting prayer for a time of pandemic:

O God, protector of all who hope in you,
bless your people, keep them safe,
defend them, prepare them,
that, free from sin and safe from the enemy,
they may persevere always in your love.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Contact the author

Jeannette de Beauvoir is a writer and editor with the digital department of Pauline Books & Media, working on projects as disparate as newsletters, book clubs, ebooks, and retreats that support the apostolate of the Daughters of St. Paul at http://www.pauline.org.

Thoughts on Waiting and Fasting

It seems the Feast of the Annunciation can often be underplayed. It has great drama, with the angel Gabriel’s announcement and Mary’s humble reply. Our thoughts may go to what we would do if we saw an angel, or would we maybe be a little proud if God chose us for such a task.

This is the day God becomes Man Incarnate. I imagine that from the time Eve was banished from the Garden, with every baby she nursed, she wondered, hoped, and prayed this would be the one to undo her sin. Is it Abel? Could it be Cain? How about Seth? But God was silent.

Through the long years, babies were born, but God was silent. We come to the story of Abraham. God promised a baby to Abraham, but again He delayed. When Isaac was finally born, God asked Abraham to give him up–to sacrifice him–incomprehensible to Abraham, but a picture of God’s love that would be shown to us. But when?

Isaac wasn’t the one, and the years marched on. Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David—all these furthered God’s plan but were not the one that Eve had longed for. The kingdom of Israel is divided, and more kings rise up, with prophets to call them back to God–even Elijah, who called down the Fire of God, is not the one. About 700 years before today’s gospel, the prophet Isaiah tells the wicked king Ahaz to ask for a sign. He will not, but God speaks and promises a virgin will be with child, and that child, her son, will be named ‘God is with us.’

The Jewish calendar numbers our year 1 A.D. as 3761 since the beginning of the world. Three thousand years since God promised he would rid the world of Eve and Adam’s sin, and restore us to his friendship. And Mary says, “Yes, I will.” No complaints about what took you so long, just yes–whatever you want, I want.

As I write, we’re a week into social isolation in the U.S. Seven days–days marked by fear, loneliness, anger, boredom–all of the things we usually experience, but without any distractions.

Masses are shut down, and Jesus seems far away. Two Sundays without the Sacrament and now not even daily Mass is allowed. How shall we survive?

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes that perhaps fasting from the Eucharist could help us to deepen and renew our relationship with the Body of Christ:

Today too, I think, fasting from the Eucharist, really taken seriously and entered into, could be most meaningful on carefully considered occasions, such as days of penance…

“A fasting of this kind…could lead to a deepening of personal relationship with the Lord in the sacrament. It could also be an act of solidarity with all those who yearn for the sacrament but cannot receive it. It seems to me that the problem of the divorced and remarried, as well as that of intercommunion (e.g., in mixed marriages), would be far less acute against the background of voluntary spiritual fasting, which would visibly express the fact that we all need that ‘healing of love’ which the Lord performed in the ultimate loneliness of the Cross Naturally, I am not suggesting a return to a kind of Jansenism: fasting presupposes normal eating, both in spiritual and biological life. But from time to time we do need a medicine to stop us from falling into mere routine which lacks all spiritual dimension. Sometimes we need hunger, physical and spiritual hunger, if we are to come fresh to the Lord’s gifts and understand the suffering of our hungering brothers. Both spiritual and physical hunger can be a vehicle of love.”

May our fast from the Eucharist bring us closer to the joys of Easter!

Contact the author

Photo Courtesy of Henry Ossawa Tanner

Pamela joined Diocesan’s staff in 2006, after a number of years in the non-profit sector. Her experience is in non-profit administration including management, finance, and program development, along with database management and communications. She was a catechist in her parish RCIA program for over 15 years, as well as chairperson of their Liturgy Commision. Received into the Catholic Church as an adult, Pamela’s faith formation was influenced by her Mennonite extended family, her Baptist childhood, and her years as a Reformed Presbyterian (think Scott Hahn).

Do You Want to be Well?

“Do you want to be well?”

This may seem like a crazy question to someone who has been ill for 38 years. Why did Jesus ask it?

The lame man’s answer may give a clue. He does not say yes. He shifts the problem to the circumstances around him: he has no one to put him into the healing pool, which was said to cure the first person to enter it when the water was disturbed. He is alone. No relatives or friends to help him.

Perhaps, having been alone and sick for so long, he had simply lost hope. He was accustomed to his aloneness and his inability to get into the water. His solitude and situation had become familiar and somewhat comfortable. He went to the pool where he might be cured, but without any real hope that it was possible for him. His difficult rut had become his permanent reality in his mind.

Jesus stirs up a new possibility by looking at him and asking, “Do you want to be well?” Do you want to change? Do you desire something new? Because something new demands something of you! Are you ready for this? “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”

Jesus never forces himself or his way on us. We must desire it. That is why he tells us elsewhere to ask, seek, knock in order to receive. We have a responsibility to direct our desires and our hope toward the good and true and beautiful, toward God’s will for us, toward true happiness in Christ. This demands something of us. We must be willing to leave some things behind, to encounter the Truth in Christ, to embark on the spiritual adventure of grace.

Jesus tells the healed man and us, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.”

In order to love, we must leave behind our grudges.
In order to serve, we must leave behind our pride.
In order to be whole, we must leave behind our woundedness.
In order to walk with Christ, we must leave behind our own ideas and agendas.

Do we want to be spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically well? Do we want to be true followers of Christ? Are we willing to open ourselves fully to all God wants to pour into us and through us? Are we ready to be well?

What do we need to let go of?

During this time of social isolation (a friend called it “the lentiest Lent”!), we have the opportunity to spend more time in prayer and reflection. Let’s imagine Jesus himself looking us in the face and asking, “Do you want to be well?” and ask him to show us what our true answer is. And then he can begin to set us free.

Contact the author

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.

Get The Most From Analytics

Have you ever had questions about the often confusing world of Analytics? We are here to help you navigate the ins and outs of the analytical world in myParish App.

Let’s go over some definitions of what you will see in your myParish App Admin portal.

Start and End Date
The date range is important for how analytics function. Typically a larger date range is going to give you more accurate information. This is because analytics take a large set of data and bring it down into smaller subsets using averages and estimates, giving you a good understanding of your users, not an exact number count. Change the date range to do some testing on how many people are signing up per month or what section of the app is most popular during which month.

Users are defined as anyone who downloads and starts using myParish App. This is broken down into new and returning users. A new user is someone who is in the app for the first time. A returning user has already been in myParish App and goes back in. Sometimes a user can be counted as both new and returning users depending on your date range. At myParish App, we do not know what specific people are using the app unless they have created an account, which is not required unless you want to use groups or parish favoriting. Users are based on a unique device’s ID, not a name or email.

“A session consists of a series of page views that a single user makes during a period of activity.” https://bit.ly/2TurYbO
Every time someone is in the app after closing it, it is counted as a new session.

This section is helpful for doing some testing on the effectiveness of your messages. If you send a message and see a spike in engagement than you know it was probably because that message is encouraging people to open the app. Find out what times of day and what subject of messages get the best engagement in your parish by testing over a period of a few months.

This section shows you what areas of the app are the most popular. If you want to increase engagement for a specific area, we recommend sending a message out and encouraging your parishioners to check out the button. Messages remain the number 1 reason that people get into myParish App. Why not encourage them to pray more or check out the daily readings?

View a Quick Overview of myParish Analytics

Happy Feast Of The Assumption

Happy Feast of the Assumption from all of us here at Diocesan. Mary was constantly present to Jesus as His mother. I like to think about home life growing up for Jesus. He had a Mother and Father who cared about Him deeply and helped Him to grow. It’s no secret that family life has taken a blow in our culture. But we still have hope. As long as we have the witness of the holy family, we can work every day to care for the ones we love and realize the importance of our presence in their lives.

Paradisus Dei has created a very well done video that speaks to the importance of being present in our families. I thought we would do a bonus post today for the Feast of the Assumption and share this video with all of you.

May we all learn from the example of Mary and look for ways we can be present to our families. From all of us here at Diocesan, God Bless!

New Easter Content

I wanted to take a quick moment to let you all know about the new content that I will be posting for the Easter Season. I have enjoyed reading all of your comments and feedback from the survey I sent out last week. If you were not able to fill it out, it’s not too late. Click here to take our quick survey.

I would like to keep content going through the Easter season. Years ago I created a Theology of the Body based program, specifically for those struggling with pornography addiction.

I wanted to share this program with all of you, so I have adjusted it so that it makes more sense as a Theology of the Body program for anyone to read through and ponder. I will be posting this program Monday-Friday all the way until Pentecost.

I hope this program is helpful to you all as a starting point for learning Theology of the Body. This teaching of the Pope is about much more than sexual ethics, but it is a commentary on all of salvation history and redemption. There is no better time to reflect on the power of God and his love for us than during this season where we celebrate his triumph over death. May God Bless you all during this Easter Season!

As a Solutions Evangelist for Diocesan, Tommy is committed to showing parish and diocesan staffs how to use our communication tools to their best advantage. He has worked for years in various, youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. As an expert on Catholic communication, Tommy uses his parish and diocesan experiences to help you make your ministry effective. To bring Tommy to your parish or for general inquiry, contact him at tshultz@diocesan.com or find him online at www.rodzinkaministry.com.

Pasiones Descolocados

Seis días antes de la Pascua, fue Jesús a Betania, donde vivía Lázaro, a quien había resucitado de entre los muertos. Allí le ofrecieron una cena; Marta servía y Lázaro era uno de los que estaban con él a la mesa.” Juan 12: 1-2

Al reflexionar sobre las lecturas de esta semana, me llamó mucho la atención el Evangelio del lunes, pero por razones inesperadas. Tenía que pararme un segundo porque me impactó bastante la manera tan casual que hablan de Lázaro en el Evangelio de Juan. Quizá no te diste cuenta. Lee el versículo de arriba nuevamente. ¿Lo viste? Lázaro, QUIEN SE HABÍA MUERTO, ahora está sentado en la mesa comiendo con sus amigos. Que testimonio tan increíble del poder de Jesús. Es muy fácil no verlo y está mencionado tan casualmente.

Alguna vez ¿te ha pasado algo que te apasiona bastante y luego alguien lo menciona casualmente como una cosa sin importancia? Esto me pasa a mí cuando la gente habla del programa de TV ‘The Office’ (La Oficina), en mi presencia. Oye, ¿has visto ese programa llamado ‘The Office’? Umm…. ¿Hablas del programa que literalmente cambió la comedia para una generación entera, que nos presenta la experiencia humana de un grupo de amigos que perdura a través de los años, el programa que nos hace llorar a todos cuando llega el último episodio de la estación? Ah ese, sí he visto ‘The Office’.

Duele cuando alguien no comparte la misma pasión de algo como nosotros. Casi se siente como un golpe personal. La persona más apasionada de toda la historia de la humanidad reveló el objeto de Su Pasión. Su pasión, en los dos sentidos de la palabra, es para nosotros, y todavía volamos por la Semana Santa aceptándola casualmente. Por lo menos sé que yo lo he hecho en el pasado.

Creo que uno de los problemas más grandes en nuestra sociedad es que nuestra pasión y nuestro deseo están descolocados. No es malo que nos guste un programa de televisión o un equipo deportivo o un pasatiempo, pero ¿cuántas veces tenemos el mismo entusiasmo por nuestro Señor y Dios? ¿Cuántas veces creemos de verdad lo que está pasando en las escrituras, que no es solamente un cuento que leímos en una Biblia con imágenes como niños sino que tiene poder real en nuestras vidas?

Una de mis citas favoritas de C. S. Lewis dice esto sobre la Pasión y el deseo:

“Pareciera que Nuestro Señor encontrara a nuestros deseos no demasiado fuertes sino demasiado débiles. Somos criaturas poco entusiastas, jugando con la bebida y el sexo y la ambición, cuando se nos ofrece la alegría infinita, como un niño ignorante quien quiere seguir hacienda pasteles de lodo en un barrio pobre porque no puede imaginar lo que significa que le ofrecen una fiesta en el mar. Nos complacemos demasiado fácilmente.”

Vamos a la Misa el Domingo de Ramos y celebramos la venida de Cristo porque eso es lo que hacen los católicos. Pero en algún momento ¿no debe cambiar de algo que hacemos a algo que somos? Debemos ser personas que creen las palabras que leemos, quienes se den cuenta del poder del Señor que decimos que amamos. Te tengo que decir que ya he terminado con el lodo. Por muchos años he pasado por la Semana Santa y ha sido una semana igual que los demás. El mismo servicio de Jueves Santo por aquí, las mismas reflexiones de la Pasión por allá.

¿Podrías imaginar lo que pasaría si intentamos poner la misma cantidad de pasión en esta semana que pone Cristo? Ese tipo de poder da miedo pero al mismo tiempo es justo lo que nuestro mundo necesita. Si nos importara lo mismo que Él lo que ha hecho por nosotros, podríamos impactar al mundo de manera real. Por su pasión por sus amados, entregó su vida. Esta Semana Santa quiero entrar en la Liturgia profundamente y no solo dejarlo pasar. Quiero utilizar estos momentos litúrgicos increíbles como ofrendas al mismo Dios quien ofreció tanto por mí. ¿Qué estás dispuesto hacer durante esta Semana Santa?

Resistir el Miedo

El Evangelio de hoy empieza diciéndonos que Jesús estaba profundamente afligido, igual que cualquier persona leyendo u oyendo este pasaje: de hecho es una de las partes más difíciles de leer durante este trayecto del Domingo de Ramos a Viernes Santo.  

Y es así porque todo se trata de nosotros.

Ésta es la noche cuando la humanidad se enfrenta cara a cara con su egocentrismo. Ésta es la noche cuando Jesús identifica a aquellos que lo van a traicionar: Judas y Simón Pedro, dos discípulos suyos, dos personas quienes lo siguieron y creyeron en Él, viajaron con Él y comieron con Él, dos personas quienes habían ofrecido sus vidas enteras en servicio al Señor.

Leemos todo esto y nos aflija. Queremos creer que, entrando en este tiempo oscuro, Jesús por lo menos tenía el consuelo de sus amigos. Queremos creer que los apóstoles apoyaban a Nuestro Señor 100%, que lo iban a defender a pesar de cualquier cosa. Los hemos seguido mientras entraron a Jerusalén con Él, los hemos visto subir las escaleras al cuarto donde iban a compartir la Última Cena. No queremos que ninguno lo traicione porque eso quiere decir que son igual de débiles como todos nosotros.

Y la verdad es, si les podría pasar a ellos, podría pasar a cualquier persona.

Ésta es la noche que resuena por todas las veces que nosotros mismos hemos traicionado a Dios. Ésta noche, nos enfrentamos cara a cara con el temor que nos paraliza y no nos permita hacer el bien, el temor de lastimarnos, el temor de lo desconocido, el temor de la oscuridad.

El temor es el arma principal de la maldad en el mundo, y los apóstoles tenían más que su parte. Tan solo unos días antes, ¡habían entrado a Jerusalén como parte de un desfile! Después de tres años de viaje, de carencia, de ver las puertas cerradas en sus caras, de dudas y preguntas y seguro de muchas noches sin dormir, entraron a Jerusalén en triunfo. Sólo Jesús sabía lo que estaba por venir; y seguro los apóstoles estaban llenos hasta el tope de alegría.

Y de un momento a otro esa alegría se convirtió en temor. Una noche como todas las demás de repente no era como todas las demás. Judas dio la espalda a la luz.

Hay especulaciones sobre sus motivos y probablemente nunca los entenderemos claramente. Sin embargo, a Pedro sí lo entendemos perfectamente: tenía miedo. Al final, cuando llegó su momento, su oportunidad de vivir lo que creía, no podía hacerlo. El temor lo paralizó e hizo lo que había prometido jamás hacer.

A todos nosotros nos gustaría creer que en los momentos de crisis vamos a escoger el bien, y muchos de nosotros sí lo haríamos. Igual que la historia humana es el cuento de temor y debilidad y tracción, también es el cuento de valor y generosidad y fidelidad. Dos apóstoles lo traicionaron a Cristo una noche y los demás no. Los demás estaban allí.

Pero probablemente hay una voz dentro de cada uno de nosotros que se pregunta qué haríamos, si podríamos resistir al miedo, si podríamos mantenernos firmes, porque sabemos que si podría pasar a los apóstoles de Jesús, hombre de fuerza y fortaleza, podría pasar a cualquiera de nosotros.

La pregunta que Jesús le hizo a Judas era, “Amigo, ¿para qué estás aquí?” Imagine por un momento que estás allí con ellos aquella noche y a ti te hace la misma pregunta: ¿Para qué estás aquí?

La respuesta es lo que vas a hacer por el resto de tu vida.

¡Ven a Jesús y vive!

Ya estamos en la Semana Santa. Faltan pocos días para el Santo Triduo. Nuestros corazones y nuestras mentes se esfuercen por comprender emociones de tristeza y alegría a la vez. “¿Por qué Jesús tiene que morir?” “Para resucitar,” nos contestamos a nosotros mismos. “Pero, ¿por qué tienen que tratarlo con tanta crueldad?” “Porque eso es el resultado de nuestros pecados más graves,” seguimos con el monólogo. Y antes de que los pensamientos avancen un paso más, un tremendo sentimiento de gratitud llena nuestro ser.  Nos sentimos tristeza y luego llenos de alegría porque la Semana Santa nos demuestra, como ninguna otra época del año, la profundidad del amor de Dios para con nosotros.

Un himno cristiano en inglés escrito por Chris Rice lo pinta preciosamente:

Pecador débil y herido
Perdido y dejado moribundo
Levanta tu cabeza porque el amor pase en frente tuyo
Ven a Jesús
Ven a Jesús
Ven a Jesús ¡y vive!

Ahora te ha aliviado tu carga
y lo ha dejado lejos
y su preciosa sangre ha borrado la mancha, así que
Canta a Jesús
Canta a Jesús
Canta a Jesús ¡y vive!

Y como un recién nacido
No tengas miedo de gatear
y acuérdate que cuando caminamos
A veces nos tropezamos, así que
Cae en Jesús
Cae en Jesús
Cae en Jesús ¡y vive!

A veces el camino es solitario
Es empinado y lleno de dolor
Y si tu cielo se oscurece y cae una fuerte lluvia,
Llora a Jesús
Llora a Jesús
Llora a Jesús ¡y vive!

Y cuando se derrama el amor
y la música llena la noche
Y cuando no puedes contener la alegría que sientes,
Baila por Jesús
Baila por Jesús
Baila por Jesús ¡y vive!

Y cuando con tu último latido
Te despides de este mundo
Vaya en paz y sonríe en la gloria, y
Vuela a Jesús
Vuela a Jesús
Vuela a Jesús ¡y vive!
Vuela a Jesús
Vuela a Jesús
Vuela a Jesús ¡y vive!

Mientras se va terminando la Cuaresma y viene llegando la Pascua, se trata de justamente eso: De ver el amor que pasa enfrente nuestro, de darnos cuenta que su preciosa sangre ha lavado nuestros pecados, de sentirlo aquí con nosotros cuando nos caemos, nos sentimos solos o adoloridos, de celebrar con Él cuándo estamos alegres y al final, vivir con Él por toda la eternidad.

Durante esta última semana de preparaciones para la Pascua, espero que puedas venir a Jesús, cantar a Jesús, caer en los brazos de Jesús, bailar con Jesús y volar a Jesús, nuestro amado Señor y Salvador.