The beginning of the year can seem a bit overwhelming if we look at the distant future, the amount of work to be done and the tests and homework to be completed.
I am thinking of the author of the gospel of St. Luke. I can recall many times in the Acts of the Apostles talks about a journey.
Think of Mary.
There she is going about her daily routine, then an angel appears and gives her unbelievable news – she’s with child. Can you imagine that, pregnant?
Placing myself in Mary’s shoes, seeing an angel would have been an overwhelming experience. I certainly would not expect the news that Mary received. What about her friends? There most certainly was doubt about her story.
I can see Mary asking Joseph, “What will we do in the next months and years?” These same questions we ask ourselves when it comes to our lives at Gannon.
We may not have received the news that Mary did, and gladly, but the impact of where we are and what we do is just as important as the decisions Mary and Joseph made in their lives.
We look at the initial questions and we have no idea. There are expectations, whether it’s making the dean’s list or just passing.
How about the next four years and how to get through them?
Perhaps this is your last year and time is going so quickly you are a bit unnerved – what about a job? Will I get my thesis done on time and will it be acceptable?
These questions may vary in nature but not necssarily in the response. The answer is in trust. How much do I trust you, Lord? I struggle with that a lot.
Mary may have too, but was quick to respond, “Be it done unto me according to your word.”
The stress and anxiety of what will be is relieved. Mary and Joseph still remained proactive in their lives and the forming of Christ, but the expectations and those disappointments that can come when they are not met are gone.
Expectations can bring a very heavy burden to a relationship, whether it is with your boyfriend or girlfriend, with your husband or wife, or with siblings and children, if they are not met.
The disappointment that follows after we prayed so very hard for something and it didn’t work out the way we wanted it to, can leave us in doubt.
I suppose Mary and Joseph had expectations too. They had to remove that and follow what was placed in their hearts by God.
There have been times when I have talked with students and they have no idea what they want out of life, yet here they are in the middle of the university and burdened with expectations from parents and family and professors and classmates.
The journey Luke’s community takes us through is a wonderful illustration of how we journey through life, uncertain of the next turn.
Prayer is an essential part of Jesus’ life throughout his ministry and serves as the means by which God has always led his followers. Prayer is an important piece of the role we play in others’ lives and how we respond.
The communication between God and us, that is prayer and grace, strengthens us in those times of doubt and despair. Simple as “Lord, help me,” a plea to the ears of the one who loves us most.
Luke’s Gospel is the Gospel of the Spirit because it is here the Spirit makes us new. The Spirit of God is upon us. He loves you and me just as we are, without human expectation to burden us, just give him your heart.
The invitation to love comes from our dear Jesus that echoes the early commands sent to Moses; “Love your Lord, God above all things, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
That means talk to God because he loves you. That means treat others the way you want to be treated.
To all the incoming students, “Be not afraid” – many have gone before you and now it is your turn to mold your future and that of your neighbors.
May God bless you all.