Faith filled people don’t show signs of weakness. No tremors or tears allowed. They must be certain about all they do. No hesitation, no wondering what direction to go. They must be fearless, strong unflinching. They must have no low moments. No end to their endurance. Nothing defeats them. They know that God will never let them down.
If that describes a person of faith then I’m afraid that I certainly don’t fit into that definition.
But then neither did Jesus. He didn’t go to Calvary with any kind of assurance. He hit the depths in the Garden of Gethsemane. ‘My soul is ready to die from sorrow’. Saint John has no account of the Agony in the Garden, but in Chapter 12:20-33 there is an echo of it where Jesus says, ‘My soul is troubled’. He was worried and fearful about what lay ahead. He didn’t feel in control but found solace in placing his trust in his Father. ‘Not my will but thine be done.’
This gives me comfort when I feel low and can’t see an end to this uncertain time.
I don’t have to pretend that everything is okay with me. I don’t have to hide my worry or discomfort. What did Jesus do? He prayed to his father in Heaven and also sought the comfort of others. He brought Peter, James and John to watch and pray with Him. While I may not be able to have my friends physically present because of the rules of lockdown, they can still be close to me through the magic of technology.
Saint Patrick too faced difficulties and he too didn’t feel he was fit for the role. He was aware of his own weaknesses, aware of his dependence on God and on the companionship of others.
Everyday life has changed for the moment. Without the usual routine it’s difficult to know what day it is at times. Telephone and social media are proving their worth. We are lucky to have such means of communication and for those living alone it is often vitally important to keep us sane.
One thing never changes, however. We have a direct line to God and always will have. Unlike our hospitals and call centres, God is never overwhelmed and is always there for us when we need help, guidance and someone to talk to. While keeping our physical distance from everybody outside our home, we have the time and opportunity to close our spiritual distance with God.
Fr John Farren is Parish Priest of Iskaheen and Upper Moville, Diocese of Derry.