It was a homily I will never forget - and the Lord would see to it that I 'got the message', as it was seared into my brain from that day forward. Father Mark approached the microphone and began his powerful homily that evening with a profound teaching he experienced during his years at the seminary. His homily that day went something like this:
One difficult evening during his studies at the seminary, Mark, (not fully ordained to the Diaconate yet), left his room and went down to the cafeteria. Stepping over to the counter where the snacks were left out for the students, he reached out with his wide opened hand, preparing for a full death grip on a huge stack of cookies to take up to his room. As he was ready to grab that full pile, he heard the Lord speak to his heart, "You don't want that". He stopped dead in his tracks, responding without hesitation, "I don't?" "No, Mark. Come and sit with Me."
At that prompting, Mark left the cafeteria - empty handed - and followed the Lord's request to come and sit with Him. Sinking into the front pew of their seminary chapel, in that profound silence before the Lord's Presence, he took a deep breath and opened his heart for the Lord to speak.
In a moment's time, while holding the full attention of His little servant son, the Lord lovingly revealed how a heart that is deeply longing for True Love will reach for many other temporary comforts in order to appease that deep hunger - food, television, other companionship, or a thousand other material 'fixes' in the moment. As Jesus anointed the true need within Mark's heart, he found himself weeping - "nearly sobbing" - in this powerful understanding of how much he intensely longed for the pure love of God.
This beautiful wisdom played out in blazing colors during my own silent retreat several years later. I had the privilege of making a three day directed retreat with a religious community, which changed everything for me - forever. For those three days I finally allowed God to speak freely, realizing that I had been the one making HIM wait - not the other way around. It was three days of revelation, as the Lord so patiently revealed His hopes and dreams, and the treasure of His adorable love.
On Day Two I specifically remember one of the Sisters of the community leaving my noon time meal on the table for me. There was no conversing with anyone other than my assigned Spiritual Director, so all meals were taken in silence and solitude. As I brought the tray back to my room, I recall looking at all of the food they had laid out - a cheeseburger, salad, potato chips, a soda - and a large chocolate bar.
Now if you had known me at all during my life, you knew that chocolate and I were inseparable companions. A day without chocolate was like a day without sunshine ! But here, in this moment, I could have cared less about this chocolate bar. It was fine whether it was there or not, whether they left it for me, or whether there was no dessert on that tray at all. I was stunned by this realization. All I cared about was spending more time with the Lord - and that had completely filled me during those few short days. I wasn't longing for anything other than more time in the silence of His Presence.
Now I understood....
And so, my most beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, it is my deepest and dearest prayer for each of us - that we long for God as much as we long for air. I pray that we long so deeply for the infilling of His Spirit, that everything is born from that longing, and that nothing else takes precedence over His perfect will in the moment.
In the grace of this Easter week, let us praise Him for every patient moment that He waits for us!