Reflection for Saturday, October 20, 2001: 28th week in Ordinary Time.

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Dilly, Barbara
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My focus for today is on God's promises. First, what are they, and secondly, how do we draw on them in times of deep need?||The scriptures for today speak of the promises God makes to many nations who acknowledge the justice that comes from faith in God. This justice goes beyond the operation of laws. God promises justice to people of faith. For us, everything given to us is a grace, not a right under law. I interpret this to mean that human attempts to bring order, to make judgments, and to secure our lives are insignificant compared to what God promises. God will lead us with joy wherever our lives take us, even to death and back to life where we have never been.|During times of great need, we draw on these promises, but we often stop short of doing our part in keeping the covenant with God. I am thinking about what I need to do to acknowledge God at a difficult time in my life. My mother has terminal cancer. She is only 71. Her cancer has reached the point where there is likely nothing more that can be done. She, my father, my 3 sisters, and my brother, and I, along with her seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and the rest of our extended family are facing her death. It is not easy. She is too young. It seems like such an injustice for God to take her from us now. We had hoped that she would live to her mid-eighties. We have hoped against hope that there would be a cure ever since her cancer was first discovered two years ago.|Now, we are faced with fear, anxiety, and even some anger. Some of us are having difficulty accepting that there is nothing that can be done. Some of us are having difficulty being supportive of her special journey at this time because we are more worried about our own needs. Some of us are angry with those who are not supportive because we don't think they have the right to think of themselves first. And some of us are turning to the scriptures for strength.|I am reminded of a sermon my pastor gave a few Sundays ago when he talked about fear, anxiety, and anger as responses to the terrorist attacks on America. Fear and anxiety, he said, paralyze us to the needs of others. Anger is an inappropriate response to fear. Anger should be used only to pursue justice, not to avoid facing our grief and fear. We can trust God's anger in the pursuit of justice, but seldom our own.|My pastor reminded me that fear and anxiety are not God's will or intent for us. Anger and anxiety are often the result of a need to control. Rather than seek control, we are allowed, and encouraged to grieve in the face of pain and loss. Christ grieved. But Christ's model for grieving, by weeping, is to show us that Christians grieve in hope and love, not anger, despair, or fear. My pastor reminded me that St. Paul says "Perfect love casts out fear."|That sermon was very helpful to me as I reflect on what today's scriptures say to me during this difficult time. I believe that even in my grief I must acknowledge God's promises to me, to my mother, and to the rest of my family. I am called to respond to the needs of others in love. I am reminded that the Holy Spirit promises to give me strength to acknowledge the God "who restores the dead to life and calls into being those things which had not been." Even in our death, we are blessed by God's promises. Everything is a grace.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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