It's not you, it's me!
Perhaps some of you are familiar with this line, but I would hope not! It’s been in widespread enough use to be defined even in Google as a cover line from someone ending a relationship trying to lessen the pain of the person being “dumped” as it were.
I find myself thinking of this line in a different way, in my relationship with Jesus and I am guessing I’m not the only one with this concern. In these trying times, in which it seems like many people have taken leave of their senses, how solid is my faith that our Lord will see me through what very well might be dark days ahead? Or that I will be there for Him?
This prayer that follows is meant to encourage perseverance in the faith no matter what may lie ahead:
Dear Lord, in this shaky time, help me not to waver in my faith in You to see me through whatever sufferings I may yet endure in this life, that I may thus be able to experience the everlasting joy of heaven with You and all the blessed Saints in in an ecstatic eternity. You know how weak my trust in you can be. Help me, though Your spirit, not to move in any direction that might displease you or otherwise be detrimental to my salvation. Heavenly Father, I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The famous scene recorded in three of the four Gospels, Matthew’s, Mark’s and Luke’s, where Jesus calms a great storm from a boat at sea with just a command, in response to His frightened disciples’ cries for His assistance, comes up often in homilies and essays dealing with our having more faith in Him.
I would sincerely hope that the seas would not get any choppier than they are already. However, empty store shelves are becoming increasingly common, our schools have become hotbeds of pornographic political correctness, and we are being set against each other in continual pandemic panic over matters of efficacious treatment, freedom, and privacy, with people losing their jobs and otherwise finding it more and more difficult to put food on the table and to keep their houses in order.
And on top of that the world’s currencies are becoming increasingly shaky under unimaginable mountains of debt. And the end of all this is not in sight, at least not anytime soon.
In this atmosphere the slithering snake, Satan himself, playing on our natural anxieties, offers us much needless worry, fear, and even loathing of ourselves and each other. Still, we do experience pain and brokenness in this life. Christ didn’t promise us a rose garden, and He Himself experienced His own deep anguish in a garden, the Garden of Gethsemane as His Passion was about to unfold.
Standing up for what is right in a world gone wrong has never been easy, and at times it can be quite painful. Jesus knows that better than any of us could even begin to imagine.
This is reaffirmed in the passage from Matthew’s Gospel taken from our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount in which he said "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matt 5:10-12).
Persecutions? Revilement? What?!? We all have a natural aversion to suffering after all! Maybe you know someone or are someone who’s been treated like an outcast for standing up for the truth of our faith in a faithless world chock full of Pontius Pilates asking scornfully “What is truth”. (Besides, everyone knows that truth is whatever you want it to be these days, right? And each person can have a truth of their very own! Neat!)
Carrying those crosses can be heavy indeed and it’s easy to get weary. Given the current upheavals, who’s to say many of us may not indeed experience either red martyrdom (loss of life) or, more likely, white (such as with loss of friends, jobs, or family).
I’ve read that all this mayhem and uncertainty allows us to bring good out of so much evil, of contributing to that grace that abounds more than sin St. Paul spoke of in his letter to the Romans (5:20). To be able to do so is a momentous privilege indeed!
But what will I do if push really comes to shove and we experience real hardship as Christians in this country with masses and other liturgical services being disrupted and otherwise forbidden under the authority of some callous globalist Caesars for whom religion is whatever they decide it will be, not us! Or what if there is a sudden nationwide power outage from war, hackers, or some other factors?
Yes, we are told, and rightly so, that God wins in the end and evil is ultimately vanquished, as we read in the book of Revelation. This has been a much-needed staple of Christian thought ever since that first Easter Sunday followed Good Friday. And as our Lady of Fatima said to the three shepherd children in 1917: “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph”. Ultimately, it’s all good! But in the meantime, is it more a manner of it’s all well and good…but?
The great line “Jesus I trust in you” from the Divine Mercy picture Our Lord commissioned in a similarly dark time in the 1930’s also comes to mind as both a reassurance and a challenge!
You may well ask, as do I, “Dear Lord, how much do I really trust You to see me through to safety, that with You I’m not walking on shaky ground? With the tectonic technocratic plates shifting under our feet, how do we follow your footsteps O Lord?
This is why, for me not to drift away from You, I need to pray to Your spirit for guidance continually and fortify my senses through Your Word in scripture and Your Food in the Holy Eucharist, that I may put on the Armor of God and the Armor of Grace through the Blessed Sacrament.
I worry that if sudden disaster strikes, I may find myself paralyzed with fear, dread, and doubt. Not only unable to be a light in the darkness but even able to see in it at all. Yet as You know all too well, dear Lord, our life here was not meant always to be a bed of roses. Yet if the cross comes down heavy and hard, when I feel neither joy nor consolation, will the one who will not serve, Satan, overwhelm me? If the lights go out, and strife breaks out everywhere, what will my response be?
If the powers that be, usurpers of Your power, pretenders to the Throne of Your social kingship, make it increasingly uncomfortable and even difficult, trying to make it impossible to serve You, can I still remember that with You all things are possible for my ultimate good (Matt 19:26)?”
Jesus provided us with a much-needed glimpse as to the frailties of human nature in the Gospels. You may recall how during the Last Supper Peter told our Lord that he would lay down his life for Him (John 13:37).
Yet soon afterwards He went from acting like a swashbuckling Errol Flynn cutting off a servant’s ear as our Lord was facing those arresting Him, to becoming like a stammering Ralph Kramden in the great TV sitcom from the 1950’s The Honeymooners (going “hamana, hamana, hamana” when flustered) in a short space of time after Jesus was arrested.
Seeking to warm himself up from the cold by a fire soon afterwards, Peter found himself frozen in fear at accusatory words of a maid tying Him to Jesus, and denied that he even knew Him, just as our Lord had predicted he would at the Last Supper!
Fortunately, Peter redeemed himself with our redeemer in loving repentance and went on to become our first pope and a mighty champion of our faith before his martyrdom in the mid 60’s AD. His example reminds us all not to despair when we fall but to let Jesus help us back up, as He did for Peter after His resurrection (John 21:15-23)!
St. Paul provides an answer for me and hopefully for others as well on how to deal with our fallen natures. In Chapter 7 of his letter to the Romans, he wrote “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (In Verse 19).
But he didn’t stop there, fortunately! He continues further in that chapter “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (In Verses 24-25). Jesus was just as ready and willing to help him with his sins and weaknesses then as He is to help us today.
The key here is to acknowledge our failings and doubts before God with genuine humility, so that He might mend our brokenness with His love and grace. He who was born in a cave and died on a cross for me and you.
The night before His crucifixion Jesus Himself experienced much dread in the garden of Gethsemane contemplating the enormity of the sins for which He would make reparation the next day. His words to His Heavenly Father can inspire us all as well as we look to Him for greater patience and sanctity in the midst of our own Gethsemanes: “Father, if thou art willing let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42).
If you’re like me, you’re not alone. Afraid? That’s quite natural. But let’s pray for each other as our Lord and our Lady pray for us to be able to withstand the test of the difficult days ahead of us and not let Satan sift us like wheat!
Dear Lord, help us all to live with uncertainty while staying close to You in perseverance and prayer and, above all in trust in you, while keeping our eyes on a blessed eternity in Heaven with You and our fellow Saints.
In closing, keep in mind these words from Thomas a Kempis from the great book The Imitation of Christ about Jesus: “He Himself is always ready to help to those who strive and who trust in Him, yes He provides for us occasions of striving to the end that we may win victory.” Victory over our unruly passions, our sins, our fears, and, ultimately, for the prize of Eternal Life!