Daily Reflection
March 9th, 1999
John Horn, S.J.
Institute for Priestly Formation
Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Matthew 18:21-35

“Do not give us up,” and “do not withdraw your mercy” are two key phrases that Azariah prays pleadingly (Daniel 3).  These words remind me of something Fr. Gene McCreesh, S.J., said several years ago as he greeted me warmly at the end of an annual Ignatian retreat.  Gene said, “Well, did you discover again that God had never moved away?  Where had you gone?”

The questions contain a beautiful, truthful commentary that helps generate Lenten laughter.  Yes, I had internally (without even being aware of it) pulled away from a quality of listening for and following Jesus’ living presence.  And, the retreat had once again provided a heartfelt knowledge of God’s indefatigable care and forgiveness.

In day-to-day life, when it seems like God’s presence has withdrawn, the inverse is somehow true.  We often miss the Holy Spirit’s presence and need to appropriate Biblical understandings of God’s presence.  While we wait in prayerful darkness with hope, do we realize that the immediate presence of the Holy Spirit is that Hope (Romans 8)?  Often, too, in the tangles of our mind’s eye we move away internally through fears of being humanly vulnerable and utterly dependent upon this ever-present and all-loving God.  We tend to manage our pain rather than admit it within and relate it to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I say within because the paradox is that the Holy Spirit indwells, in our hearts.

Lent is a type of retreat and can help lead us home again, to ourselves and the Church, from wherever we have gone.  Listening for and following the inner consolations of Jesus’ Spirit leads us to savor the beautiful truths that indeed we live within the Trinity, that God is always near, never giving up on us!


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