Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Shield to Those Who Seek Refuge

By Colleen O’Sullivan
Every word of God is tested; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.   (Proverbs 30:5)
Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.”
(Luke 9:1-3)

God is our refuge and our strength,
An ever-present help in distress.
(Psalm 46:2)

One of my youngest friends just started preschool a couple of weeks ago.  The first morning, about mid-way through, he informed the teacher that he is “not a fan of preschool.”  The second morning, he cried the entire time because, as he told me later that afternoon, he “didn’t want Mommy to go home.”  By the third morning, he had the presence of mind to bring his mini-security blanket along, which saw him through the day.

When I was a kid, I imagined that grown-ups always knew what they were doing, were never afraid and certainly never needed anything like a security blanket.  As we are all aware, that definitely is not the case.  Many things happen that leave us shaken, scared or feeling weak – the loss of a job, the end of a marriage, the death of a loved one, health or financial problems, just to name a few.  We all need to find security or refuge somewhere.  A little square of fabric doesn’t cut it when you’re an adult, but neither do some of the other sources of comfort we turn to – accumulated wealth, the approval of our friends, the seeming solace of food or drugs or alcohol. 

I thought about this as I read today’s Gospel account of Jesus sending the disciples out to proclaim the Kingdom and heal the sick.  He tells them to take nothing at all with them.  Leave behind the possessions and the money that are our usual crutches.   Being sent out on a mission would be anxiety-producing in and of itself, but not taking along any of those feel-good props?

The disciples aren’t going out empty-handed, however.  Neither are we, no matter where our journeys take us.  What we bring along doesn’t weigh an ounce, yet is the most precious thing imaginable.  In our hearts, we carry our relationship with Jesus.  And Jesus knows what it is to be human, to face fear.  He walks with us every step of the way.  He is the source of our strength in facing the challenges of life.  As the first reading from the Book of Proverbs reminds us, God is our place of refuge, our ultimate source of security.

What is it that seems frightening or overwhelming in your life today?  To what or to whom do you turn for shelter and strength?  Take a few minutes to share all this with the Lord in prayer.

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