PUSHING BEYOND THE OBVIOUS

For Christians who have become serious about their faith and moved beyond the cultural, the terrain ahead appears challenging indeed. We have embraced the basics of our faith tradition but now what? The temptation is to park one’s self on a comfortable side road and watch the traffic go by. But here’s the thing. This journey that each of us is on is about our own personal relationship with Jesus. Comfortable side roads don’t nourish our relationship with Jesus. Prayer and self giving do however because they allow us to draw near to Jesus who has a plan for each of us if only we would draw near and listen.

images0d4da9l8This point was drawn home to Helen and me recently. We were on the final leg of a trip across Canada to the Maritimes and Newfoundland. On the way back we decided to travel west through the States. Our journey home began at Port Huron, just across the Border from Sarnia Ontario. My niece, Mary Wagner, has spent the last 18 to 20 years working in the pro life movement mainly doing rescue work with young women who were contemplating abortions. She has spent approximately 5 years in jail for her efforts both in Vancouver and in the Toronto area. Mary has just completed a judicial process that resulted in thousands of letters and e-mails being directed to the presiding Judge at her most recent sentencing hearing. She is currently not incarcerated and took the opportunity to go on a spiritual retreat at the Congregation of St John facilities at Princeville, Illinois not far from Peoria, Illinois. Helen and had the opportunity to visit her and spent a good part of one day with Mary and with Sr. Immolatia, a contemplative nun also involved in prison ministry, who has been a prayer warrior for Mary in her ministry and who was also there on retreat. It was truly a blessing to be in that environment and to reconnect with these two remarkable women. We attended a noon Mass and were moved at the profound devotion all of the attendees at the Mass gave to the Eucharist.

The point of all of this is that Mary has responded to the invitation of Jesus to grow in relationship with Him. Jesus has asked much of her and she has given gladly not only in her prolife work but also in the evangelization work she does while in prison with other inmates. Most of us would grow pale indeed if we thought that Jesus would ask this of us. The fact however is that Mary has a passion for the unborn and an abhorrence for the injustice visited on them by abortion. She has been chosen by Jesus for this work and the radiant joy that she exudes confirms the validity of her ministry.

Each one of us has a particular calling and ministry. Most of us won’t be called to spend years in jail. We are called however to carry our cross whatever that cross may be. Some of us come to our relationship with Jesus later in life as is the case with me and as is the case with Sr Immolatia. What is important is that we pursue that relationship when the Holy Spirit nudges us forward.

As I reflect on this whole issue in terms of my own faith life, I realize how important it is to continue to pursue Jesus. I must draw near to Him that he might draw near to me [James: 4:8]. This involves brushing up on our prayer life and that is a daily exercise. We must offer ourselves to Jesus that He can reciprocate with His grace. This is the divine exchange that grows our relationship with the Lord of the universe. May each of us actively pursue Jesus in our daily lives.

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