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A couple of weeks ago I saw a funny line on social media, it asked, “So if you were asked in 2015, what you would be doing in five years time – I bet no-one got the answer correct!” It is a type of question that is often asked in an interview for a job and is often looking for a spark of enthusiasm and ambition in the person being interviewed. Whilst we can’t accurately predict the future, most of the time it has been possible to have a pretty good attempt with plenty of success. But not even a year ago, would any of us been thinking about pandemics, lockdowns, furlough schemes, etc, etc…
There probably can’t be anybody who hasn’t had to change their plans in one way or another. The life of our parish has been no exception to this. Since March and up to this last weekend, we’ve had no baptisms or weddings in St Francis’. The First Communion children are still waiting to receive the Lord in the sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time. Our adults on the RCIA programme who should have received their sacraments at Easter are still in preparation, and this year’s Confirmation programme has been deferred for a year.
The way in which we celebrate the Mass as a community is also very much changed. On-line became the new normal, and we are now slowly returning to coming to Mass in person, even if it feels somewhat different for us. Some of the changes have been easier to adapt to and accept than others, but it has been achieved. Not being in routine, not being used to what we are doing, and not wanting to change are common enough feelings, but added to the effects of the response to the virus our world has been literally turned upside down.
Being unable to plan what we are doing is to say the least unsettling.
When our children were much younger we would occasionally play a game in the car whenever we were on holiday, usually camping somewhere on a temporary campsite in the middle of the countryside. The game was, that at the end of a day out somewhere away from the campsite, for the children to navigate us back to base. The driver would follow their instructions at junctions and see where we ended up. Every so often I might refuse to drive up a small country track with about 2 foot of grass growing up the middle, but generally we would get a good tour of the lesser known lanes of the area, even if on occasions we did drive across the same crossroads from all 4 different directions!
How many times are we told that we must put our trust in God and everything will be alright. How often do I hear that I have to leave it in the hands of the Lord. We are not told that we have to abandon all of our plans, our hopes and our ambitions. If we did that there would be complete and utter chaos and absolutely nothing would get done. But those are the simple things, the things that we can control, because it is within our gift to be able to control them. It is the much bigger things in life that we have to hand over to the Lord, really trusting that He knows what we need and which direction is the best option. The amazing thing is of course that at every junction of our journey, He allows us to choose the response we make, and even more amazing is the fact that He never stops loving us regardless of the decisions we make.
As we go along our journey, we too may find that we hit the same, or similar crossroads again and again. That doesn’t matter because Christ is walking right alongside us whatever choices we make, we unfortunately don’t always recognise that He is there to guide us at the junctions.
Being a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, a member of our family of the Church, gives us an advantage when it comes to the junctions. Our faith is what reveals the signposts that can make the decision of which way to take so much easier. It takes some of the guess work out of the way to travel. A ‘blueprint’, a ‘roadmap’, a ‘guidebook’, call it what you will, but that is the key to our journeying.
So if I know this, why does the question of:
Jesus may be “The Way”, but how often do I think I know a better alternative?
keep on coming up?
In our reflection perhaps now is a good time to consider, how good am I at working with Christ to make important life decisions – or do I do it alone?
Deacon Ian Black