Monday, October 12, 2015

Filling the Emptiness

Friends of Faith:

As I woke up this morning I started thinking about all I have to do and all I haven’t had time to do, like writing this meditation – and I realized that I have filled many empty spaces and a fairly disciplined routine with “junk” – meaningless and/or unstructured and unfulfilling busyness. Instead of my mission bringing me peace it is bringing me stress because I know it is incomplete and is missing flavor.

One of the things that I heard repeatedly at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago (yes, we did get to see the Pope J) was that if we didn’t take what we learned back out into our families and our communities, then being in the presence of “religion,” having faith, was meaningless. It would have no taste and result in no lasting change for the better.

You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Mt 5: 13-16

As I think back over the last couple of years I realize that before being displaced at work by the fire I had a routine, everything had a place and for the most part my time was pretty structured. I had disciplines that put God first like getting up to go to mass, praying daily before we left the house and reading scripture daily (when my computer screen opened up).

Everything seemed to fall into place, to flavor each other, to carry out a God given purpose.

During the year we rebuilt I adopted a somewhat new routine in order to get new duties accomplished. And despite the fact that life was busier God seemed to always be at the center – not only did I need him to get through all of the decisions that needed to be made but I was very aware of all the blessings he was reigning down on us, on the many prayers that were being answered.

Both routines left me, for the most part, fulfilled and at peace. I got both house work and client work done in both a timely and orderly fashion-- answering messages and meeting deadlines. Life had a God given purpose.

But lately, especially this summer which has been filled with family, visiting friends and a very memorable trip to Philadelphia I have felt something missing – like the salt that had gone tasteless.

And most of you would think that moving into the new building would have “freed” me – given me more time, less stress etc, etc. However, I can’t seem to get as much accomplished and the routine days look a little like ground hogs day. I feel myself lacking the fulfillment and peace of what I know my faith should provide even when I accomplish most of what I put on my list for the day.

What I am realizing is that many of those “freed” up spaces haven’t necessarily been filled by Godly actions, by faith or especially by disciplines that put God first. They have been filled by me wanting “me” time, by “me” wanting “freedom,” and even by “me” wanting to hide.

Religion [cannot] be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life. 
     -Pope Francis, 
Evangelii Gaudium, 183

God has a different purpose – a purpose I was reminded of yet again this week when several of you reminded me that you had not seen this message in a while.

God doesn’t want us to hide. God doesn’t want our faith to be left inside of us, or just inside of our houses, or just at Sunday mass. God wants us to give to others, to think less about ourselves and to remember everyone of our blessings every day.  

He wants us to spread his Gospel message every day. He wants us to pray in thanksgiving, to ask for forgiveness and to ask for all our needs. He wants us to be filled by him and He wants us to fill others With Him—not through our words, but by our actions – by loving and serving our families and our friends.

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words.”

That is what gives me the most satisfaction, the most fulfillment – when I see those I love receiving what they truly need and thanking God for what they are being given. But without each of us doing our part, without each of us praying for, helping and being there for one another then we are the light under the bushel basket (hidden) and the tasteless salt that is searching for flavor.

May each of us fill our emptiness by serving and praying for one another. May all of us find our freedom in the discipline that puts God first.

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