Deacon’s Beacon: Best of Times, Worst of Times

Posted on August 19, 2020 by Published by

“They were the best of times,
            They were the worst of times.”

I know – Charles Dickens said it first, but I think the expression is especially appropriate for us today.

We’re all living in confusing, uncertain times.  Our news sources frequently speak of a drastic increase in cases of depression and mental illness issues.  We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  We’re used to living somewhat routine and constant lives.

You say, “OK –that’s the worst of times, what’s the best?”  I believe we can find the “best of times” by reflecting on our August Sunday readings.  I would like to review some of the lessons we have heard.

In our August 9 gospel reading, the disciples are in a boat, crossing the lake to meet Jesus.  Suddenly – a storm comes up and the disciples are terrified as they see what they think is a ghost coming towards them.  Then Jesus says, “it is I, do not be afraid!”

We all have those terrifying moments when we don’t know what will happen to us.  But Jesus is there to comfort us.  Occasionally, like Peter, we doubt and we start to sink in our fear.  But Jesus is there to save us.

When I was in the military there was a saying that “there were no atheists in foxholes.”  That’s an old expression – during times of trouble we tend to run to God for guidance and protection.

That’s good – but if we only turn to God in times of trouble, we miss out on His love and comfort – 24/7.

To see what we would miss, we only need to reflect on our August 2 readings.  In the gospel we hear the story of Jesus feeding the multitude with only five loaves and two fish.  As incredible it may seem to us, Jesus will provide what is best for us.

When the disciples ask Jesus to “let the people go to buy food for themselves,” He tells them “there is no need for them to go away.”

The same is true for us today.  There is no reason for us to go away from Jesus – good times or tough times.

In the First Reading from Isaiah, the Lord says, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water!”

This speaks of the incredible generosity of God, who offers to nourish us.  We need to remember to always trust in God, who offers us an everlasting covenant of love without end.

In that Sunday’s Second Reading St. Paul tells us that neither anguish or distress or persecution will separate us from God’s love.

On August 16, we hear the pleas of the Canaanite woman, calling out to Jesus for help.  At first, Jesus seems to ignore her.   But she continues her cry for help.  Jesus then tells the woman, “Great is your faith.”

God will not turn a deaf ear to us – we need to maintain our belief in His message to us.  Whatever our weaknesses, God’s mercy is unending

On August 23, Jesus asks His disciples “who do you say I am?”  Peter replies, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  A reply we all need to remember.

Because, as we hear in the Second Reading, the mystery and wonder of God’s plan is beyond our understanding.  We must trust God.

On August 30, we hear Jesus say “What profit is there to gain the whole world, but lose one’s soul?

We need to remember that – through good times and bad times, Jesus is always next to us.

“You are the light of the world.  Do not light a lamp then put it under a bushel basket…. your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.”  Matthew 5:5-16

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