The Friday Thought - Making decisions about what we value

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I was celebrating a wedding for the friend of one of my brothers on Saturday in Iskaheen. The setting of the Church in the hills above Muff is spectacular, as you can see for miles over Lough Foyle, Inishowen and Magilligan and the fields of North Derry.

I had offered my brother a lift to the wedding but he had been asked to travel with someone else to help give directions to the church.

He only arrived back from El Salvador last Sunday and obviously hasn’t become acclimatised to being home. I mention this point because he managed to get lost somewhere along the five miles from the house to the church.

Two minutes before the wedding was due to begin I missed a phone call from my brother on my mobile. The bride duly arrived and as I greeted her and the groom at the altar and I mentioned how she wasn’t going to be the last into the Church, to which she answered: “I think we passed your brother at the church in Muff.”

I wouldn’t have minded too much but I was going to make an appeal from the altar if anyone knew of a good woman who was willing to take on a challenge.

The rest of his friends are now married, engaged or in a relationship and I was hoping someone might take him off our hands. Even at my nephew’s christening last week I was going to advertise his availability.

Unlike most typical Derry men he can cook, wash dry and iron clothes, every now and again he’ll even tackle some DIY improvements to the house. Usually these begin one year and are completed the next. Although I shouldn’t give him such a hard time, for I can’t cook, iron, or complete anything remotely practical with my hands.

At home when the house was being decorated my job was to scrape the wallpaper off the walls, well the lower parts of the walls. For some reason I wasn’t asked to do anything. I was once trusted with the task of pasting the wallpaper but I had more of the paste on me, the floor and the surrounding walls than on the wallpaper.

Cooking, like decorating, involves a lot of time and hard work regarding preparations and the amount of effort required to do a good job. It’s easier to pay others to look after the tasks which we feel are beyond us or we haven’t got the time.

There are many demands on our lives and time is precious for most people and there are only so many things we can become personally involved with. Often we have to prioritize; making decisions based on what we value the most and what we think are the more urgent concerns affecting our lives.

In these more economically stressful times many tough decisions have to made about what can be done now and what has to be put on the long finger.

Amidst all the cutbacks we find ourselves having to take more responsibility for our lives, homes and many other areas where once we could spend abundantly.

In this respect we have all been confronted with the reality of how in this finite and changing world everything passes away and we cannot on our own provide for all our needs.

In these circumstances it’s easy to give up and feel overwhelmed at the enormity of the problems we face in these difficult times.

In John’s gospel during the scene of the feeding of the five thousand Jesus as a test asks Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Philip panics realising how much food and money would be necessary, given the size of the crowds.

He was unable to recognise the answer to his problem was staring him in the face. The answer to the question which Philip was asked is provided by the same person who asked the question, namely Jesus.

If we truly recognise who Jesus is and what he has come to offer all God’s people, then we would find the answer to the deepest hunger in our lives.

It’s not easy learning to trust another person with all our worries, struggles, problems and fears.

Yet unless we’re able to hand over to Jesus control of our lives and trust him with all our heart aches and sorrows, our joys and celebrations, we will never enjoy true peace.

At times like this the future can seem uncertain and we can feel afraid and alone. Jesus is offering to walk with us and if we have the courage and humility to open our hearts and minds to his presence he will guide all his people through the trials which can threaten to engulf us.

Together as brothers and sisters in Christ, united by our common baptism as members of God’s family we have a responsibility to help one another to find true nourishment. This food from heaven is offered to us through the celebration of the sacraments and in the proclaiming and living out of the word of God.

May we appreciate the gift we have been given by learning to share our lives with those most in need, the hungry, the poor, the lonely and the rejected.