Our family recently vacationed in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee
where we enjoyed amazing views of nature’s beauty from our
lodgings in the mountains outside of Smoky Mountain National Park.
Most days we were able to hike on various trails to breathtaking
waterfalls and/or vistas. As we drove to a trailhead to begin the
hikes, our daily treks usually took most of an afternoon which in
part, were due to the pace of the slowest hiker…me! But my
family was patient with me and we had a wonderful time together.
As I pondered today’s first reading, I am utterly amazed at
the stamina and faith of Abram and Sarai as they respond to God’s
call: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from
your parent’s house to a land that I will show you.”
They not only left all that they knew, but were willing to forge
out on a journey (mostly walking) at the age of seventy-five (and
they didn’t have a convenient map to mark the trailheads)!!!
What could convince any of us today to leave our comfort zone, all
that we know, and move elsewhere? God did promise the land of Canaan
to Abram’s descendants, but that was after the trip was well
under way. Was this about promises of ownership/possession of new
lands, or rather, an openness to trust in God’s presence and
I believe that today’s psalmist captures the spirit of Abram
and Sarai’s faith and journey: “Our soul waits for
you, O God…May your kindness be upon us who have put our hope
in you.” (Ps. 33:20 and 22)
How do I/we approach the challenges of our lives? Most of us have
made some life choices that have moved us in one direction or another…our
career choices, partner in life, having a family, dedication to
serving in the Church, optioning for the poor, etc. However, as
we live into those choices, we realize that change is the constant
dynamic of life. Life is full of change! Sometimes we are surprised
by wonderful moments of joy and at other times, we are stopped in
our tracks by the struggles, pain, disappointment, illnesses, etc.
But, it is then that we are invited by God’s Spirit to open
ourselves in trust and confidence to God’s loving embrace.
We do NOT have to journey alone. In fact, just as my family accompanied
one another on our hikes in the mountains, God is always available
to companion us in our treks of life.
But ‘how’ do I open to God presence? At times, I may
feel that I’m failing and tempted to blame or judge others
for these times. However, in today’s Gospel from Jesus’
Sermon on the Mount, we are warned against judging others. In utter
desperation we often turn to call on God. But, in times of joy,
celebration, and happiness, am I able to also turn to God in gratitude
for the blessedness of the moment?
Today’s scriptures are a powerful reminder that God is always
present…loving, caring, and traveling with us and in us. It
is up to us to invite/open ourselves to that embracing relationship
of a loving God…so that we will be able to meet whatever changes,
challenges, or surprises appear at our trailheads of life’s
My prayer today is that I invite God to assist me in my awareness
of God’s loving embrace and presence in my day to day journey,
alone and with others.