Trusting in the Father’s nearness

The Father is with you always. Do you believe that? Really? If so, then why do you sometimes feel lonely? Or worried? Or abandoned?

Jesus asks (John 16:29-33): “Do you really believe?” We say we do, but our actions reveal the truth. Sometimes we act as if God has abandoned us. We take matters into our own hands as if God doesn’t care or doesn’t have the power or desire to help.

Jesus knew that his closest friends would abandon him at the worst time of his life, when he’d feel most vulnerable. Yet, he gained strength from knowing that his Father would be there. Even when he cried out from the cross, “Father! Why have you abandoned me!” he knew in his wounded heart that the Father only felt distant because he was far from the sins that Jesus now bore, but the Father was still united to the Son in divine love.

Surely the Father could have helped Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane by speaking to the disciples in their prayer time, telling them to support Jesus in his time of need. Maybe he did and their fears and shock or tiredness drowned out the message.

We all have friends and family who should have helped us during a difficult situation but didn’t. How does that make us feel? That’s the way Jesus felt, too, except — Jesus trusted in his Father’s nearness.

We need to develop the same trust in God’s nearness. Even though we’re not as holy as Jesus the Divine Son, our Divine Father remains with us always; our baptisms guarantee it. We can learn this from today’s first reading, where Paul meets a group of people who have received the baptism of John. He completes their initiation into the Church by giving them the sacramental baptism.

Notice the difference between the two baptisms: The first one had been an act of repentance, which is something we do every time we overcome sin. In the second one, because it’s a sacrament, it’s something that God does. God comes to us in the fullness of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Thus, we can never be abandoned. Even when we lose people through death or desertion or some other form of scattering, we never lose God. If we seek God, we will discover that he is already right here with us. However, when we insist upon handling life our own way, we look past him and miss him. We abandon him.

How much we accept God’s presence is entirely up to us.

To feel the Father’s nearness, we need to spend time in a heart-level prayer life, repent of our sins, surrender to him our will and desires so we can make room for his will and desires, and refuse to settle for any substitute that the world offers.

© 2016 by Terry A. Modica

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