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Hard Times

First Reading: Acts 18:9-18

One night while Paul was in Corinth, the Lord said to him in a vision,
“Do not be afraid.
Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.
No one will attack and harm you,
for I have many people in this city.”
He settled there for a year and a half
and taught the word of God among them.

But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia,
the Jews rose up together against Paul
and brought him to the tribunal, saying,
“This man is inducing people to worship God contrary to the law.”
When Paul was about to reply, Gallio spoke to the Jews,
“If it were a matter of some crime or malicious fraud,
I should with reason hear the complaint of you Jews;
but since it is a question of arguments over doctrine and titles
and your own law, see to it yourselves.
I do not wish to be a judge of such matters.”
And he drove them away from the tribunal.
They all seized Sosthenes, the synagogue official,
and beat him in full view of the tribunal.
But none of this was of concern to Gallio.

Paul remained for quite some time,
and after saying farewell to the brothers he sailed for Syria,
together with Priscilla and Aquila.
At Cenchreae he had shaved his head because he had taken a vow.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 47:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (8a) God is king of all the earth.
All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth.
R. God is king of all the earth.
He brings people under us;
nations under our feet.
He chooses for us our inheritance,
the glory of Jacob, whom he loves.
R. God is king of all the earth.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.
R. God is king of all the earth.

Gospel: John 16:20-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”

NAB

may 6

If there’s one thing I could name about being a Catholic that carries me through it all it would be the emphasis Catholicism puts on suffering. I grew up in some great, lovely, uplifting denominations yet as I grew older they didn’t carry me through the way I had been taught they would. I got older and life got harder. Careers and jobs didn’t work out, the economy tanked, relationships were not what I thought they were and many, many times I lost my own footing as I tried to discover who I was. Relatives got older, friends got sick, the world turned upside down and the little world I encompassed on a daily basis was full of more questions, dark moments and struggles than it was full picturesque faith.

When I was in the process of discerning conversion to Catholicism I knew my soul was crying out for more than happy Bible studies and fun music. I needed a faith that really understood that sometimes life was hard, really hard. I needed a faith that understood that it wasn’t my fault when the going gets tough. I needed a faith that didn’t see my life’s lack of perfection as a reflection of my relationship with God or as a photocopy of the state of my Soul.

In today’s reading, we get some of the New Testaments  most quoted lines; lines full of support and happy promises. Yet it was not until the last few years that I realized there’s more to read between them. A younger version of myself would read these lines and see them as a promise that everything was going to be okay—those bad times would end or that I’d finally make that right, ideal decision—but that’s not what’s there. We’re not told to avoid the bad times. Saint Paul is not told to give up and do something a little less difficult. We’re told to keep going, to do the hard things, to live the hard times because in the end God delivers us to His best reward.

Our reward is not to be free of hard times here on earth; it’s not a sign of favor to have an easy, “blessed” life. Our reward comes at the end of these long days and what we need is to remember that not one of us is asked to live the easy life, not even Jesus and His blessed Mother escaped this world without their share of hard times.

Today remember that we here at Blessed Is She see your hard times; we’ve been there, we are still there, we’re walking that road beside you. Your hard times are not a sign of weakness or ill-favor. Your hard times are not a reflection of your family, your child, or your soul. Your hard times are a painfully beautiful part of how God is calling you to him.

We are here, and we have the Church. God blesses us with His grace during all times.

photo credit

Molly Walter is a wife, mother and homemaker (with a pesky job outside the home). She shares about making the life she wants with the life she’s been given over here.

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