Recognizing evil

What do black hats, dark clothes, and scars have in common? They are often used in movies and television shows to signal the villain of the story. An article entitled The Problem With Disfigured Villains in Pop Culture calls for Hollywood to stop relying on scars and disfigured people for villain identification. While disfigurement is an easy storytelling shortcut, seeing it so often and especially juxtaposed with the heroes who have a perfect body and totally symmetrical features, have taught our culture that anything that is not perfect is bad. 

As Catholic Christians, we are called to look beyond the surface of a person. Do we seek a deeper relationship with the people that cross our paths or has the influence of what we have seen in the media color our initial response? We connect more deeply with a movie or show when we find traits of ourselves within one of the characters. For those with visible differences, they are seeing an unbalanced representation that skews those with similar issues as evil villains. The use of disfigured villains goes beyond just the horror/thriller genre to include Disney movies like The Lion King and Star Wars. While movies based on books, like the Harry Potter series, may wish to point the accusation to the author, once a person sees what that villain looks like, the irregular features are no longer left to the person’s imagination and the portrayed disfigurement gets cataloged in the watcher’s brain.

The article uses Phantom of the Opera to illustrate that while the appearance of the main character was visibly unappealing, he had the ability to bring beauty into the world through his music and singing. By judging his outward appearance as evil and treating him as such, he succumbed to acting in the same way he was treated. When the novel Frankenstein came out, that too was a plea not to judge by what a creature looked like, but rather by his actions. I wouldn’t be surprised if the message of these two stories has been lost to the fantastic special effects that movie fans crave. If I asked you to draw a picture of Frankenstein’s monster, it would probably be a tall, green, human-like man with a flat head, bolts protruding from its neck, and perhaps some stitches or scars on its face. While shows like The Munsters and movies like Hotel Transylvania may soften us towards those who are visibly different, how much effort does it take for us to go beyond a person’s appearance? For individuals who lack symmetrical looks or who have scars, being rejected by others may result in a wall of protection when meeting new people. It may be more difficult to find a connection or common ground because of previously experienced hurts. 

In reality, we are all flawed and are affected not only by original sin, but also the sins we commit. We may not be able to recognize evil, since it’s not always obvious on the surface. While we need to leave all judgment up to God, especially their souls, we also need to remember all humans are children of God. They are neither good nor bad; rather it is all the actions of a person that must be considered. As we all fail to act as we should, we should not be judged on just one good deed or one bad act. Let us shower those whose appearance is less than perfect with all the love and mercy God has bestowed on us. Perhaps then we can be recognized, not by what we look like, but by the love we have for others and bring God’s kingdom to reign.  

Meaning of sacrifice

While anyone can look up a definition of the word ‘sacrifice,’ what does the word mean to you? How would you classify it; does it have a connotation that is positive, negative, or neutral? Have you ever given any thought to the word? 

In ancient times, sacrifice was a habitual act. Various religions used it as a way to communicate with their deity. For the Israelites, it was a sacrifice of grains, first fruits, and livestock. Other religions demanded infants and children. These were times when most struggled to get enough to keep them and their family going throughout the year. To give up any food, especially the best, took courage and faith. We will never be able to begin to understand what it took for parents to give up their children in the cultures that required it. In eras when children did not always survive into adulthood, was it considered a blessing that they were sacrificed for what the family believed to be a higher purpose? In ancient times, sacrifice hurt and most people, if not all, were affected by it in some way.

In modern times, if you mention the word sacrifice, someone may think you are talking about a particular play in baseball — the sacrifice fly ball. Another may think of it in terms of time; perhaps parents have to sacrifice their weekend to shuttle their kids to different activities. Others may think of it in terms of money or material things, but many times it’s more about sacrificing a luxury than something that is truly essential. (No, the cup of coffee from Starbucks is not essential; a habit perhaps, maybe an addiction, but it is not a requirement for life.) For people in lower economic brackets, they may need to make choices between modern day necessities like electricity, water, food, and medicine, but these choices are not necessarily sacrifices, as they are not freely choosing to give up any or all of those elements. Rather they are choosing what’s most important to their life, given the funds that they have. 

Sacrifice is a word that is used in our modern language. Sometimes it is confused with choice, or perhaps misused instead of it. In using it as such, the connotation softens the word, so that the harsh starkness of giving up something that is critical to life, or even life itself, no longer resonates. As Catholics, we hear about the ‘sacrifice of the Mass’ and perhaps we have even used that phrase ourselves. Yet each week we go to Mass, as the words of consecration are spoken, do we realize that what is taking place is Jesus giving Himself up on the cross on Calvary? While the Mass is the ‘unbloodied sacrifice’ it is nonetheless re-presenting the ultimate sacrifice of a life for a life – namely Jesus’ life for ours. Jesus freely gives His life to atone for what we never will be able to do: to make full reparation for the sins we commit. And He did it because He loves us. He did it even knowing that people turned away from Him. He did it so that we can hope in His mercy. He did it so that we can become the best version of ourselves in spite of our sinful predisposition. 

Jesus is both God and man, and so His death hurt. Not just His family and followers at the time, but for everyone who believes in Him. We should allow ourselves to feel hurt by His death. In participating in His death, we can better appreciate the resurrection, His ascension, and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Being affected by these events, we can immerse ourselves in the life of Jesus, sacrificing ourselves to become His representation in our little corner of the world. 

“…Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh. I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given Himself up for me.”

Gal 2:20

More than generous

 In Sunday’s Gospel from Luke, Jesus feeds the 5,000. I have heard suggestions that rather than feeding the people, Jesus encouraged them to share amongst themselves and that was the miracle. While I agree there is an element of sharing, I believe that God, who created all life out of nothing, can certainly multiply the loaves and fish presented to Him.

God is generous with us. He gives us what we truly need, when we need it, plus more. Perhaps in our plenty, we lose sight of just how blessed we really are. We look at what others have, what they can do, where they can go, and we want those blessings instead of thanking God for what He has given us and asking His help to use those gifts to the best of our ability. When Jesus fed the people, His generosity was recorded as having twelve baskets of leftovers that were gathered. I wonder how big these baskets were? Were they like the stone jars holding the water that Jesus turned into wine at the wedding feast of Cana? All totaled, those jars probably held over 100 gallons of water-turned-wine, another example of God’s generosity. If the baskets were comparable in size, then twelve baskets would have held much more than five loaves and two fish!

In Jesus’ last directive to the disciples at this event, He tells them to gather the remnants. Why? Couldn’t whatever is leftover be fed to the animals, or be used in compost to enrich the soil for new growth? Even though these two things are good deeds, they are not on the same level as feeding children who are made in the image and likeness of God. In gathering the extra bread and fish, our attention is called to God’s generosity, which should not be left to waste. When we receive from God, we are called to use His gifts well and then gather up what remains and share it with others. Not as a cast off of what we received, but in a selfless sharing of His blessings. We can often take this to a literal sense, and think that it’s only about money. But as the saying goes, “Time is money,” so how do you spend your time? Do you participate in volunteering your time to events that support the welfare of the community? How about the gifts of your talents? God has blessed us each with unique abilities, do we use them only for ourselves or do we share them with others? 

God showed the ultimate generosity by giving us His Beloved Son. We will never be able to exceed God’s generosity, and He has shown us that He gives more than we need. Let us be generous with others, with our time, our resources, and the Love that is God Himself. 

Water and fire

Water and fire seem like polar opposites, but for the Catholic Church, they are complimentary.

Water is a necessity for life. Although the amount may change amongst creation, from plants and animals to birds and fish, everything requires water to survive. In our modern world, we have the luxury of having water at our command in many locations of our house: the laundry, the kitchen, the bathrooms, and even in our backyard gardens. Not only do we consume water for our own bodies to function, but we also routinely cleanse our bodies and clothes with it. Water now is a symbol of life and of renewing life. Yet for the ancient world it was a symbol of chaos. 

In the first book of Genesis, at the creation of earth, it “was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved over the water.” (Gen 1:2) Before God brought the order of creation, there was chaos. Water is seen as a destructive force flooding the earth and killing anything that did not seek shelter in Noah’s ark. And for the Israelites, God parted the Red Sea, allowing them to walk dry shod through it, and allowed the Egyptians chasing them to be consumed by the mighty power of the waves. Each of these accounts illustrates that God is no match for nature. He created it, but is not subject to it like we are. In each of them there is a foreshadowing of the sacrament of Baptism.

Baptism is a call from God to join in a relationship with Him, and as part of that, the Body of Christ. We are called to leave chaos behind and welcome His grace into our lives, living and learning about the Triune God. Before Baptism we are void and empty and afterwards we are filled with the Holy Spirit and grace of God. He becomes our shelter in the storms and trials in our lives. He gives us a way out of temptation and sin if we follow where He leads us. Water is the most quintessential element and symbol of the sacrament of Baptism, however, its fulfillment is found, not in more water or other forms of water, but in fire.

Fire is another symbol of the Holy Spirit. From the “burning” hearts of the disciples on the way to Emmaus when they encountered Jesus, to the first Pentecost, when tongues of fire came to rest on the Apostles‘ heads. The sacrament of Confirmation completes what was initiated in Baptism. The bishop calls down the Holy Spirit by “sealing” or anointing the recipient with Sacred Chrism oil. They are anointed as soldiers for Christ, exemplifying Him in their daily lives, no matter who they are or what they do. 

Fire, too, can be considered a destructive force, yet who is not fascinated when they see the gentle flames in a fireplace and move closer to be warmed? No matter the size of the flame, fire is an action. It moves. Place a simple candle in front of you, and it may appear sometimes as if it’s standing still, but it shimmers, flickers, and makes the slightest of noises as the wick burns and is consumed by it. Place a cup of water in front of you and it is still and silent. We receive both sacraments and each exists in harmony within us. The still, quiet waters of Baptism cleanse us from original sin, open us to God’s grace and assistance, and puts us into a relationship with Him, allowing us to call Him “Father.” As we reflect the love and gifts God has poured out on us from these and all the sacraments, we too move to share with others from what we have received. We become the action of God: His hands, His feet, and His smile to everyone we encounter. 

God is not an either/or, He is a harmonious both/and. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, we are called to follow in His footsteps to be both still and quiet like water and on fire in movement. We are called, by name, into relationship with each person of the Blessed Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.   

Blest to be poor in spirit

The first Beatitude: “Blest are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3) is one that I found troublesome to understand. But when I heard Bishop Barron explain the ‘poor in spirit’ as those who are not addicted to good feelings, it made much more sense. Our society seems to expect us to always be happy and if we’re not, we feel that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

I had several days recently that were rather trying; nothing horrible, I was just perceiving everything as requiring a Herculean effort. Why did even the simplest of tasks seem so difficult? I kept praying and asking for help, yet it seemed as if I was moving through semi-solidified gelatin. With the expectation of needing to put on a good face, or be required to answer probing questions of what’s wrong, my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual energies were depleted by the end of the day. Instead of having a good night’s sleep, my sleep pattern was interrupted, resulting in the next day my waking up tired or cranky, or both. I started to think, “What’s wrong with me? Why is this happening?” The expectations I had for myself were not being fulfilled, and I felt like I was doing everything wrong. I was still praying, yet the words seemed hollow.

While I felt like I needed to put it in God’s hands, what exactly was I putting in His hands? What kind of intercessory prayer should I be praying? Because I felt like I was making poor choices, how could I ask God to fix something that I was responsible for? That was not fair to God. But that is a very human way of looking at life. God wants everything: our good and our less than stellar selves. The days were a hard slog to get through, and it was very difficult not to dig myself further into darkness by casting poor judgements upon myself. Then while at Mass, poor in spirit kept coming into my head and I realized what I was going through was an exercise to strengthen me for when I’m not my happy, smiling self. 

Everyone has times when not for any particular reason, they’re just not happy. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong or needs to be changed, but rather to stay the course and take things slow. It may mean that you need to go half-speed, and that’s okay. Some chores may only be half-done or not completed at all, and that’s okay. You may feel that you are lazy and making bad decisions, and saying prayers without meaning them, but it’s important to keep trying and to continue to ask God for support. These types of days don’t last forever and they are helpful in strengthening our compassion for others. While you may not feel very blessed as you journey through those cloud-filled days, the sun is still shining on the other side of the clouds and eventually the clouds will break. No matter how far away God seems to us, He is always walking the way right beside us.

When we allow ourselves to experience a full range of feelings throughout our human lives, and allow God to guide us through each, our lives are truly blessed. We can appreciate the happiness and joy of life because we experience even the days that are a struggle. Our lives are not summed up into one day or the feelings we had on any particular day. And we may never fully know or understand what God can do as we allow Him and His will be done, as we muddle our way through those dismal days. But  perhaps when we look back on our lives at the end, we may see the exquisite masterpiece God has painted, using the shadowed-times to punctuate the times of vibrance and full-color. 

Mary at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, Washington DC

Mystery of Mary

In the month of May, we celebrate all mothers, including Mary, the Mother of God. As I was praying the rosary recently, I began to ponder just on how much mystery surrounds her.

As Catholics, we believe Mary is truly 100% human, and only human. Mary does not have a divine nature like her Son. However, she has been blessed with the special gift of being immaculately conceived, which means the stain of original sin was not upon her from the moment of her conception. And while Mary always had free will like the rest of humanity, she didn’t suffer from concupiscence, the inclination to sin. We can all relate to what it’s like to fall and how easy that is! However, it is hard to imagine what it would be like if we did not have even the inclination to sin. How hard is it to resist temptations when you are in a state of pure grace? Mary’s humanity makes her one of us, yet her sinlessness is a mystery to us. Perhaps being blessed with such grace allowed her to lean on God when she was tempted, rather than her own judgment, so that she always sought His will and was able to resist any temptations. 

Mary’s ability to walk with Jesus through His Passion and Death leaves me in awe of her and her strength of character. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for her to see her Son so brutally treated. While the Gospels remain silent on any reaction she may have exhibited, it could only be her deep faith and relationship with God that allowed her to participate in the events as a witness. I’m sure there were copious tears, but did she wail in anguish? Did she want to take Jesus’ place on the cross, or did she know it had to be Him? Even if Jesus had to be condemned and die on the cross, did she wonder if He had to be scourged or crowned with thorns? 

From a logical perspective, it makes sense that if God preserved Mary from original sin from the time of her conception, then He would also save her body from corruption after her time on earth was completed. If original sin brings death to us until the end of time, then Mary, free from all sin, would be the first — and immediately so — to benefit from Jesus’ opening heaven by being assumed into heaven both body and soul together. More of a mystery for me is her crowning as Queen of Heaven and Earth. It’s quite amazing that a mere human being can bestow such a tremendous title. How can the human brain understand all of Earth at any one particular time, let alone Heaven and Earth through all eternity? Yet Mary continues to be our Mother, appearing countless times all over the globe and throughout the generations. Perhaps by the special grace of her immaculate conception and her continual reliance on God throughout her earthly life, she is able to be more human than what we think of when we use those words. Perhaps she is realizing now what we hope to realize at the end of time when our bodies are reunited with our souls and we live in the presence of God for all eternity. Maybe it’s our mortality and/or our persistent sinfulness that blocks our ability to plumb the true depths of the mystery of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.

As May unfolds like a flower, let us offer prayers of thanksgiving and praise to God for granting as our spiritual mother, His most perfect creation. Let us pray to Mary, too, seeking her intercession to emulate her reliance on God no matter how difficult the circumstances she found herself in. And let us pray her psalter, the rosary, diving into the mysteries she shares with her Son, for the intentions of all those who have shown us motherly love. Happy Mother’s Day!

But she stayed

The Gospel from last Sunday (Jn 8:1-11) about the woman caught in adultery has haunted me for the past few days. While there are many pieces to ponder and various levels of spirituality one can glean from it, I keep tripping up over one very obvious yet very subtle fact: the woman stayed standing in front of Jesus.

Most times in the Gospel readings there are minute details that a person can read through and totally not catch the depth of the meaning. But sometimes they can be frustratingly lacking in detail. We do not know the woman’s name or the circumstances of how she was caught in the trap of the Pharisees. Was she set up? Did she agree to be part of the plan? Did she make a habit of committing adultery, or was this the first time? Who was her husband? Was he in on the plan? John did not include any of these details in the account, perhaps out of mercy to her, so that we can’t invoke her name or her situation. 

One by one her accusers walk away and she is standing alone before Jesus. Could she read? Did she know what He was writing on the ground? Did she even know who Jesus was? Yet she stood there until He addressed her. Her response is just two short words acknowledging that no one had condemned her. She neither pleaded her innocence nor her guilt. Perhaps she was curious as to what Jesus would say, now that she survived the mob of vengeance. While it’s beautiful to hear Jesus saying He doesn’t condemn her either, He does give her a directive not to sin again.

We need to keep this story in mind as we celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation. We stand (or sit, or kneel) before Jesus (who is personified by the priest) and while we don’t have a mob of people declaring all our offenses, we do await the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of the priest’s response: the counsel, the penance, and the absolution. In the most beautiful words, the absolution is like Jesus’ response to the woman,  “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Perhaps because I correlate the woman’s interaction with Jesus to the sacrament, I am curious as to what happened next for her. What did her husband say when she returned home? How did other people treat her after that? Was she shunned or did others forgive her once they found out that Jesus forgave her? Maybe most importantly, how was she changed by her interaction with Jesus? Did she become a follower? Alas, there is no more written of her, so we will never know in this lifetime. 

Even when comparing this account with the sacrament of reconciliation, I still marvel that she stayed standing after all her accusers left. I wonder if I had been in her shoes, would I have stayed there? Or, once I knew I was not going to be stoned, would I have walked away? Would I have waited until Jesus addressed me? Or would I have been too embarrassed by what had happened to want to have any sort of interaction with Him? Being branded an adulteress, perhaps she knew that Jesus was different from any other man she had ever met. Perhaps she heard about His healings and wanted to be healed as well. 

May we all have the courage of this adulteress to stand in our sin before God, seeking His healing mercy and the grace not to sin again. 

Fatherhood

Jesus taught us to call God, Father. While He is Almighty, Lord, and Creator, Father indicates a much more intimate relationship with us. It’s a bond that begins at the moment of our conception and lasts beyond the grave and into eternity.

God doesn’t just tell us something without giving us examples. While there are many fathers within the story of salvation history, not many are worthy to lift up. Abraham is the father of many nations. Yet he let Sarah convince him of doubting God’s ability to fulfill His promise of an heir and had him use her maid servant as a surrogate. Jacob preferred his children from Rachel over those he had with Leah, which caused strife within the family. And while David did find favor with God, he, too, was not the best model of fatherhood. 

This past weekend, we celebrated the feast of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, the actions of Joseph illustrate love and trust much more than any description could. Joseph is open to God’s word, even when it comes to him in a dream. He had made up his mind to divorce Mary after her pregnancy was revealed, but instead welcomed her into his home once he understood it was God’s will. He took his family into Egypt to wait out Herod’s reign, and provided for them in a foreign country where he knew no one. Perhaps the most poignant of all, he witnessed by example that children are not ours, but rather belong to God’s will when Jesus stayed behind in the Temple during their annual trip to Jerusalem. Joseph was love in action, fully trusting in God. We think of him as the silent type, since no word of his is recorded in the Bible, but perhaps he was a very chatty man and spoke eloquently. Perhaps he enjoyed singing while he worked with wood in his carpentry shop. However, out of all the men recorded in the Bible, Joseph is the best example of fatherhood, because of what he did.

For some, considering God as “Father” can be difficult. Yet, as I was pondering this blog, I realized that I consider myself a “pet parent.” I regularly refer to myself as “Mommy” when I’m talking to Vera. Why do I consider myself a “mother” to Vera? Because I care about her well-being: I feed her, interact with her, and clean up after her. Her snuggles and purrs convey her appreciation and put a smile on my face. If I can do that for my cat, how much more does God do for us? The best way we can show our appreciation is to trust in Him and His will for us. Saying “Thanks Dad” daily to God the Father, well that’s just the start of what we can do!

Dignity for the image of God

All people have been created by God in His image and likeness and if we truly believe this, we have the obligation to treat everyone with dignity. While doing research on the corporal works of mercy, I realized that so many of them have to do with treating others with dignity: the poor, the sick, the homeless, and the imprisoned. 

Since most of us have experienced sickness to some degree, it is very easy for us to agree, and even champion for, treating the sick with respect and compassion. However, many have not experienced true poverty, and most have not been homeless or imprisoned, thus it is harder for us to put ourselves “in their shoes.” Jesus, in Matthew’s Gospel (25:31-46) has made it abundantly clear that how we treat people will be the measure by which we are judged. 

I find it fascinating that giving food and drink are two separate commands. One would think that if I give food to the hungry, I will also be offering them something to drink. Yet each is a separate action. While these are two of the corporal works of mercy, perhaps some of the meanings transcend the literal meaning. What does a person thirst for besides water? Perhaps knowledge, justice, purpose, or God, and many of these alternate thirsts can be quenched within the spiritual works of mercy. 

In the version of the Bible I was using, one of the commands is to “welcome the stranger” but in lists I found online, this was often translated as shelter the homeless. Welcoming the stranger sounds much easier to do; even a shy person can gather enough courage to smile and say hello to someone they don’t know. But sheltering the homeless sounds much more intimidating, and much more costly of our time. It may cause us to go outside of our comfort zone. There are as many reasons that people find themselves homeless, and while we may feel secure in our homes, circumstances could turn against us and we could very easily find ourselves with nowhere to go. 

Perhaps the most challenging corporal work of mercy is visiting those in prison if we are unfortunate to have a friend or family member who has been incarcerated. However, it can be equated to visiting someone who is ill. And yet, for others visiting a prison is not merely stepping outside of our comfort zone, it’s more like being catapulted into an area that is downright terrifying. Could it be that the choices the prisoners have made thus far have been due to being treated with a lack of dignity and respect? If we were to participate in a prison ministry, could we give God the chance to show us Himself in these fellow human beings? 

With Lent coming up in a few short weeks, now is the time to refresh ourselves with the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and see how we can challenge ourselves to give our time and resources to bring dignity to those who are suffering. Let us ask God what He wills for us; His answer may surprise you!

Cushion life

Sometimes my cat, Vera, reminds me of Jesus. Though I may be tired, upset, frustrated, angry, or any other emotion and when I look over at her, she’s asleep on a cushion. 

As I was reading an art essay in the February edition of the Magnificat® on The Miraculous Draught of Fishes by Peter Paul Rubens, I started to think about the times in the Gospel that places Jesus in a boat. Besides the one depicted in the painting, the first one that came to my mind was when the boat was sinking and the disciples had to wake Jesus up because he was sleeping through the storm that was about to sink the boat. The other instance that quickly came to mind was when he was walking on the water and intended to pass the boat by, but they thought he was a ghost and in an effort to prove he was not, Simon walked on water towards him. While we don’t have an exact record of every moment in Jesus’ life, I’m hoping the events that were recorded were due to the extraordinariness of what took place. It does make me wonder if these were the only events that took place at sea, or just the most amazing, or most repeated ones?

The essay prompted a deeper study of the painting. Much of the detail goes unobserved since I’m reviewing the copy that’s only as big as what fits into one page of the Magnificat®. The essay called out the movement of the fishermen and the strain on their muscles as they wrestled with the large catch. I began to think of the correlation of life without God’s presence or His guidance. We work so hard and while we may not strain our muscles, we do tire out without anything to show for it. Yet when we follow God’s direction, not only are we blessed, but we have to work harder than we can ever imagine. God’s blessing is so overwhelming, we can’t keep it to ourselves, we can’t even receive it all ourselves! We need to share it with others, ask others to help us with the blessings He’s given to us.

Even when we are following God’s guidance, there will be storms in our lives. We may wonder where God is, thinking He’s a ghost and passing us by or asleep while we live in terror and fear. All emotions have their purpose, but they are not meant to overcome us, but to instead caution us. Sometimes we need to step out of the boat into the tossing, stormy seas, and be bludgeoned by the wind. Yet if we keep our focus on Jesus and not the wildness of the elements around us, we too can walk on water. And for the times when we think Jesus is sleeping? He’s even more aware of what’s going on in our lives than Vera is of what’s going on around her as she’s sleeping. On occasion I may be able to leave Vera napping, but usually she knows when I leave the room and if she hears me elsewhere or I don’t come back to the room when she expects me, she will come and find me. Most times when I think she’s fast asleep and the moment I get up from my chair, her eyes pop open and she watches what I’m doing. If my cat does that for me, I know Jesus is many times more attentive to the details in my life. 

A life with Jesus doesn’t mean there won’t be any trouble or hard work. It means that when we pursue a relationship with Him, He will always be with us, supporting us through the wild storms of life and blessing us with the help we need to share His blessings to those in need.