August 27, 2016
"God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong" [Today's first reading]
I heard it! I heard the crack as I was closing the car trunk. I quickly got in the car and watched my rear windshield breaking into small pieces of glass as I drove back to St. Anthony Shelter. My volunteer brother next to me went speechless. I laughed, it was my first reaction…but then it hit me, as a volunteer we pretty much share the same material poverty as any of the guys or friars we live with. There was no way of paying for a new windshield anytime soon. To be honest it was pretty painful, but I decided to remain “strong”, as if it didn’t matter to me. “Jesus is in control” I said, but didn’t know if I was actually believing my own words.
In a brief summary on the same trip my EZ a pass didn’t work, I got pulled over, had left my registration home, we had no cash on us for the toll so they didn’t let us cross to the Bronx and were force to make a u-turn at the toll and return to Queens.
I had to take the first exit I found (46a) which led me to Randall Island Park where I parked my car and rest little. Uber took us home (a very expensive Uber).
The next day things seemed to bit better, a friar accompanied me to get the car (now with my registration on hand, and toll money). The car didn’t start (of course typical God's sense of humor with me) so we went back to the shelter. Now the problem was huge, a broken windshield, a dead car, and a possible towing, I was going insane. The friars moved contacts around to help me pay for my car, but I said NO, it just didn’t feel right, my pride of not being able to solve my own problems got on the way. I was very confident that “Jesus was in control”, and he was going to provide for me in a different way. How many times God provides for us in the most humbling ways but we don’t see it? Forgive us Lord for rejecting your mercy with our human blindness. Forgive our foolishness of heart.
Then it hit me again, as I was cleaning the very first window of my assigned duty, the glass broke. I heard it! it broke in my hands. I heard the crack and try to look the opposite direction so that my volunteer brother (the youngest of us) would not see me struggling with my emotions. He looked at me as I was trying so hard not to cry... but I did, I couldn't help it anymore. I sat down and cried like a little boy, and as I cried I was losing control…now Jesus was in control, now I had no strength, now I had not pride, I was embarrassed as I had just become what I had been trying to avoid: vulnerable…not only in front of my brothers who see me as a "strong dude", but in front of God.
My car is back on the road, I accepted the friars help which broke me and humbled me even more to firmly believe God provides and is always in control in the way he desires. Thus I learned there are three things which make a person poor: the need, the dependency and the uncertainty. And this is the type of poverty I pray we can all experience one day. To be in constant need of God, knowing we lack what he has in abundance. The dependency of a child, humbly accepting what he gives, and what he denies, and how he wants to give things to us. And the uncertainty to patiently wait in freedom, not knowing whether things would be painful or joyful but still looking forward to them, surrendering to God's will and timing because he is in control and he knows what he is doing.
This poverty is what can make us stronger at the end of the day and what would really define our trust in the Lord.
If the situations in our lives were like windows we needed to fix, imagine how many broken glasses would be spared on the floor…how many more broken windows?
Let us beg our Lord in his mercy to take control of our lives, to fix our brokenness with his gentle, firm and loving hands. To replace, to solve, to renew and to create in us the heart we need to bear the poverty we must live in order to love him even more each day.
St. Monica, intercede for us.