As one chapter draws to a close, the next one beckons. At such moments, we pray for the grace to look backward in gratitude for all that has been and to look forward in hope of what is yet to come.
Have no fear
This weekend is about looking back upon the past five years and recalling the many moments that we have shared. Each one of them was an opportunity for us to grow in our knowledge and appreciation for one another and an occasion for us to recognize and to thank God for his wisdom and guidance.
Looking backwards is a lot easier (in some respects) than looking forward: there is a certain level of security in reflecting on that which has already been discovered but there is always an element of the unknown when we dare to peer into the window of what is to come.
In my heart, I give thanks today for each one of you, for the gift it has been to share the journey with you, for the privilege of being part of your lives when children (and adults) have been welcomed into the faith, for the gift of sharing in the lives of those who have encountered the merciful heart of Jesus in the Sacrament of his forgiveness and of witnessing the innocent joy on the faces of those who receive Jesus in the Eucharist. I have shared in the celebrations of those who have exchanged their wedding vows and together, we have prayed in thanksgiving for the witness of God’s gift of mutual love in the lives of those who have celebrated milestone anniversaries. We have also gathered here to thank God for the gift of faith that we have witnessed in each one of the people we have known and loved in this life, but who now live forever in heaven. For all these moments of grace, we give thanks to God today.
At the same time, we must look forward and pray for the grace to welcome the gifts that are yet to come. It is perhaps by no coincidence that today’s scripture passages speak of the fear that we sometimes encounter when we consider what lies ahead. None of us knows where the road will lead, and the natural human reaction is to fear the unknown. When Jeremiah considered the task that lay ahead of him, he heard many voices trying to deter him from telling others about God (cf Jer 20:10). Even the disciples encountered fear when they considered the possibility of having to go out into the world to share the good news that they had come to know. Then, as now, Jesus encourages us not to be afraid of sharing the joy of our faith with others (Mt 10:26-31).
The days ahead will bring yet another new beginning for all of us. By next weekend, we will all be meeting people we have not known, and some of us will be in places that are unfamiliar to us, yet this is what God asks of us, so we set out on the next leg of the journey carrying with us the joy of having encountered the Lord in this place and secure in the knowledge that the grace of God will always be with us. The free gift of God’s grace, made known to us in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ (cf Rom 5:15), abounds even now for the many, for all of us.
Mary, our Heavenly Mother, is always willing to help us to walk in faith. Let us ask her to help us always to look back and to be thankful for the blessings we have received, and to look forward, not in fear, but in hope. Hail Mary ...