Praying for Families in Philadelphia

Picture this. It is the morning hour of 6:00 o’clock. God’s children were nestled all snug in their beds, or preparing for a morning jog through the streets of Philadelphia, or having prayer time… whatever you would normally be doing at a hotel when you are attending the World Meeting of Families. Anyway, a voice comes from above (which was amazing for those of us having prayer time). The voice says “there is a reported emergency in our building” and advising us not to use the stairs or elevators. This leaves very few options for escape.

Several long minutes later there was an “all clear” sounded. God’s children were no longer nestled, the runners took to the streets, and those in prayer moved swiftly to prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving. What was thought to be a crisis was merely a distraction.

And that is how this day began.

I wonder if that is not how many of our days go, without the clarion call.  In our hearts and minds and spirit we are placed in a state of alert, a possible emergency. How do we react?  Do we pull the covers over our heads?  Do we lace up our shoes and try to run from it?  Or do we take it to prayer, seeking God’s wisdom?

There are all sorts of emergencies that are not emergencies that come our way. We “panic” sometimes when we need to ask God to order our steps, to, in the prayer of the psalmist to “steady my feet in accord with your promise.”

There is an icon for the World Meeting of Families that helps to put our lives and faux emergencies into context. In this icon, we see Jesus reaching out his hand to all while he looks directly at us.

The layers and hands behind Jesus reveal much. Mary rests her hand on Jesus, and Joseph rests his on Mary. Behind the family are Saints Ann and Joachim, Mary’s parents. You see Ann’s hand reaching toward Mary. All are looking to Jesus.

The book of Deuteronomy encourages us to “Remember the days of old, consider the years of generations past. Ask your father, he will inform you, your elders, they will tell you.”

Age to age God has been faithful to His people. God is now and will forever be faithful to us through real and not so real emergencies.

Today at Mass we prayed for all who share the Good News and live an authentic witness in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Today we too look to Christ, who looks at us with love. And today we are mindful of all the faithful who has gone on before us; the faithful on whose shoulders we stand. And we prayed for our families.

We pray to God who has been faithful in the past, to Jesus who reaches out to us, wanting to engage us and to the Holy Spirit who stands with us as Advocate through it all.

I invite you to pray for all families in our archdiocese and pray that we might find a new director for the Office of Family Life.

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