March 22, 2022, 1:00 PM

“It’s too much to bear.”  I hear that phrase often.  Given the Ukrainian war, Covid pandemic, political divides and a deep, cold winter; I am, like many of us, tired of being afraid and experiencing what feels like an unending impasse.  I sense we are swimming in a rip tide.  We pray for rescue only to feel the tug of being pulled down under again and again.  We lament.  The overall burden of conflict feels like “It’s too much to bear.”

St. Francis was familiar with the exhaustion of leading a life that was too much to bear.  Once rich and arrogant, St. Francis was devastated by the effects of war, sickness and a year-long imprisonment at a young age.  During his incarceration, he slowed down, focused inward and became one with Christ.  In time, he began to interact with the things that gave life to his spirit including animals, birds, the sun, moon, stars, the poor and sick.  And, above all, he stayed away from the one thing that could take life from him, namely, forgetting about God. 

For us, Lent is an opening to melt the frozen tears of our sorrows and to find a hidden wonder in the mystery of simply “letting go.”  Lent calls to us to move slowly, breathe deeply, let our guard down, and like St. Francis, feel the newness of a Christ that runs through our veins and in all of creation. 

As the prophet Isaiah said,

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  (Is. 43:18-19)

The question for us is, “Are we holding onto a rigid view of God or do we perceive a new thing?”  Our promise from God is that which seems impossible will occur – even to the impossibility of finding a way out of an expansive wilderness, to jumping into a flowing river in the middle of a dry desert. 

And, the best part of this promise is that a “new thing” is already here and springing forth in our lives!  That includes the promise of not only an end to winter, but also of an end to war, pandemics, hunger, loneliness, fear and sorrow.  Instead of life being “too much to bear,” we are assured that we are deeply in the hidden goodness of Christ, and that Christ will continue to bear all things for us.

With prayer and encouragement,

Fr. John Meulendyk

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