Three years ago I had a surgery which some of you may have heard. Without going into detail, they fix a condition called pectus excuvatum or a caved-in chest. Because of the seriousness of the surgery I had to spend a few days in the hospital to manage the pain. What also happened during this time was that a lot of priests came to visit me and see how I was doing. I wonder what the nurses were thinking when they saw so many priests coming in. One of the moments that I remember the most was when a bishop came to visit me! I had just gone through some serious pain, I was facing almost constant pain, but even that pain would come in waves. Sometimes it would be tolerable and not too bad; other times, the pain would go up. I had just come off the time when my pain was way up, and it was a time of some tribulation. Than Bishop Muench came in, and we had a nice visit. After he left I reflected and thought to myself I could see God at the moment being present to me in the bishop. God was present to me during my tribulation.
Jesus in the Gospel speaks about the coming tribulation of the city of Jerusalem. I got a taste of what Jesus was looking on as he looked down from the mount of olives. The mount of olives sits next to the old city of Jerusalem, and from there you can see all of the churches, synagogues and mosques in the old city. During the time of Jesus there was one main place of worship, and that was the magnificent Temple that his disciples are amazed. However as God he knew what was coming for the temple in the future. If you know the history of the Holy Land you know in 70 AD the temple was destroyed by the invading Roman armies. During that time there was great tribulation and suffering facing the Jewish people and to the young Christian Church. Jesus was preparing his disciples for what was coming and how to remain faithful to him amid tribulation. He tells them that by their perseverance they will secure their lives.
While Jesus was speaking to a specific time in the future, he too was speaking in general about the trails that will face the Church. We profess in our creed that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. As a part of our Lord’s second coming will be a time of trial and testing for those who are left on earth. When we watch things on the history channel or hear some say the world will end on this day, we may grow in fear about what may happen. However we should not be afraid as our Lord is there with us during our difficult moments. We don’t know when Jesus will come again, but all of us will be called by God back to himself, and we need to be prepared for that in our lives.
We can learn from what Jesus told us in the Gospel, and I think one of the most important things we can learn is that God is with us in times of tribulation and trials. God showed me how he was with me when the bishop came to visit me. However this wasn’t the only time in my life I felt the presence of God during time of other times in my life.
So what shall we do when trials and tribulations come into our lives. I think one thing is we can draw closer to our God and our Lord. We have the blessed opportunity here to have adoration of the blessed sacrament here at our Church. Find a silent moment during your week to spend some time in prayer.
So too, we have the opportunity to remove those struggles in our lives in the sacrament of confession. I may have said this before, but I don’t believe it can be said enough; if you haven’t been to confession in a while I encourage you to go!
Finally, we have the blessed opportunity to receive Jesus’ own body and blood in the Eucharist. I’ve always found in my own life that when I receive the Eucharist there is something that lifts my spirits and helps me see God more!
I went through a lot of pain after my surgery three years ago, and when the pain was at its worst God reminded me that he was there with me to bring me comfort and hope. I was reminded by the bishop coming to visit me and give me a blessing. We will continue to face trial and tribulation in our lives, may we trust in God who gives us the strength to face these trials and grow in holiness because of them!