An interesting thing is happening in the world at the moment. A huge number of people are beginning to come back to their faith. Young people are discovering their faith for the first time. Not just beginning to go to mass again, but learning to pray and really trying to live their faith every day. How do I know this? Because I’ve seen it and know of many people that it has happened to. There are friends of mine who are converting people at their work place, by the way they live and because of the zeal they have for the Lord Jesus. There are prayer groups springing up all over the place, with people of all ages.
Why is this? Because we are living in a time of grace, where God is giving us a chance to find him again. Our Lay has appeared all over the world in the last century and is asking us, as her children, to come back to God, because the world is living as though God doesn’t exist, and we cannot live without God.
The Lord is aware of how lost we are, people young and old committing suicide because they feel they have nothing to live for. Marriages breaking up because people don’t know where to turn to for help. A friend of mine, a married man who came back to God several years ago, said to me recently that he would have separated by now only for the fact that he had become a Catholic. In other words it was his faith that had given him the strength that he needed to keep going when things were difficult. And now they are going fine. We are not half as strong as we like to think we are. And we are not half as independent as we like to think we are. We are full of pride and slow to admit that we need help and men are usually worse than women this way.
I work a lot with the sick and dying and I am constantly amazed at how much people are consoled when they are sick, when the priest comes to visit them. It seems to remind them that God hasn’t forgotten about them; and it reminds them of the more important things and so they don’t feel so alone. God never forgets about any of us. God is simply waiting for us. Many people have forgotten about God, but God hasn’t forgotten about us.
No matter what stage we are at in our life, it is never to late to turn to God, even for the first time and to ask him for his help. But pride prevents us a lot of the time. We are too stubborn, and we say, ‘Oh I couldn’t begin to pray now, because I’ve never done it before, or because it’s not cool. What would my friends think?’ What kind of an argument is that? Who cares what your friends think. They won’t be there when we are alone before God.
Some time back I spoke to a man in the hospital who was very sick and he knew it, and I asked him if he would like to receive the sacrament of the sick. And he began to cry and say that he couldn’t because he had stopped practicing a long time ago and it wouldn’t be right to start again now. And I knew he wanted to, but he was too proud, too stubborn. I felt sorry for him, but there was nothing I could do. Pride is a terrible thing.
The Gospel today is a reminder that all of us have an equal chance, whether we have been walking the path of faith from the beginning of our lives or whether we turn to God at the last minute. No one has any advantage over anyone else. This story is an encouragement to us, to persevere and also to help others who are searching themselves. The best way we teach others about our faith is by the way we live it, not by what we say. When your children see you trying to live your faith, that teaches and encourages them. It shows them that God is something real and an important part of what we are all about.
None of us knows what is going to happen tomorrow, we only have today; in fact we only have the present moment. Right now the Lord is inviting us to begin again; to come closer to him and to remember what’s important.
‘Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near.’