Jesus empowers us to respond to his presence

I had a wedding on Saturday and the poor groom was telling me how he had met his future wife. Thankfully the bride was only ten minutes late which gave me enough time to arrive to the church before her. After the wedding I was chatting to a few of the locals and a conversation started with a group of women who, having been married for over twenty years each, had a few tales of wisdom. Amongst all the style and smiles the women shared a wry laugh as they discussed their other halves. Being a coward I couldn’t offer a defence for the poor Derry man and to be honest they weren’t in the form to be interrupted or contradicted. Setting out on life is never easy and it takes time to get to know another person, especially one you have to share a home with. However even I knew it doesn’t help matters when you mention to your new wife that she doesn’t iron his trousers the way his mother did. That was twenty years ago and I was told he’s been doing his own ironing ever since. Another revelation concerned stew; the husband only got stew for dinner when he fell out with his other half.

Apparently he doesn’t like stew but through the years he knows not to open his mouth if there’s stew on the table. Apparently the biggest irony relates to his heartburn; stew gives him heartburn but shepherd’s pie which contains the same ingredients does not. The women in the group nodded sympathetically as I wondered in the back of my mind what the score was in the Liverpool match. There is one sure fact about life, we are all different, our uniqueness marked by our personalities and life experience. No two homes or families are the same; every relationship whilst sharing many elements in common are characterised by their own energy and life. Healthy relationships are the ones which make us feel alive and give us the encouragement and freedom to be ourselves. Jesus came to bring fire into our hearts, to empower and enkindle within us a desire to respond to God’s presence. Being in a relationship with God forces all of us to change; it means becoming more like the one we’re asked to love.

There is nothing more radical than the gospel message, and if we take Christ’s words into our hearts then often we will find ourselves rejected and opposed. With God there can be no half measures, God doesn’t want some of our lives, he wants all of our lives. God holds nothing back from his children and we see this profoundly when Jesus accepts the baptism with which he must be baptised. Even though his distress was great, Jesus, out of love for his brothers and sisters, accepts the journey towards Jerusalem with its pain and rejection. As a community of believers we ask for the strength and courage in our hearts to turn to God in our times of trouble and for the generosity to reach out to others so we can help them to carry their crosses during their time of need.