Jesus' love is always in reach - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Jesus’ love is always in reach

It seems a grace to me that the beginnings of this most Holy Week and the early days of spring intertwine so deeply this year.

Both the rhythms of nature and the flow of these holy days to come put us in touch with the ebb and flow of life. They remind us of the dyings and risings of daily living, of the fallow and fertile times that are a part of everyone’s human and faith experience.

So, if we are tired of the low temperatures and the need to be especially resilient lest we slip on black ice, the beginning of spring holds the promise, at least, that warmer days and safer surfaces are not far off.

If the Lord’s call to be alert to our need for ongoing conversion and reconciliation begins to feel heavy, we’ll have — just a few days from now — the joy of celebrating the Easter feast. We’ll have the opportunity to rejoice in the reality of the life and reconciliation offered to us by the Risen Christ. In doing so, we can realize anew that the gift of that life will prevail ultimately over all of our small dyings, over all that is fallow, over all that causes us to slip and fall.

One of the gifts and lessons of Easter is that there is no darkness that the light of Christ cannot penetrate. We are never so bad off, or so isolated, as to be beyond the reach of the Lord’s compassionate embrace. I do believe that the transformation our baptism effects in us gives us the radical capacity to discover the presence of the Lord in both the larger and smaller demanding moments of life.

I think of a special Lenten moment that brought this truth home to me in a way that meant a lot. It came on a visit to the Auburn Correctional Facility to celebrate the Eucharist and to confirm two of the inmates, George and Miguel. I was very happy to go, but on the way there, I was aware that I would need to be careful to focus on the purpose for my visit for two reasons: 1) I didn’t feel really well that day; and, 2) the prison environment tends to dampen my spirits. I knew that I did not want either of those factors to interfere with my desire to be as attentive and available to the inmates as I could possibly be.

The Lord took care of that concern in an unexpected way. In a conversation with George, he said to me, “I’m really happy that you came. It’s good to finally meet in person someone I’ve come to know so well.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “I read your column in the Catholic Courier each week. It helps me, and I have come to know you.”

As you might expect, I was moved and humbled by what he said. I have returned to the moment often since then. On the one hand, I am deeply grateful that this effort has brought light into George’s life. On the other hand, I have thanked the Lord often for the gift of encouragement that George gave to me that day. I hope he reads this so that he will know that it was through him that the Lord’s light pierced the darkness that was in me that day. It was a wonderful reminder of the power of the Resurrection and its profound effects in daily life.

I wish you a most blessed Holy Week.

Peace to all.

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