This morning as I’ve been reading and praying what comes to my heart is that following Jesus often requires us to make tough and indeed unpopular decisions that will get us into trouble and that will cause misunderstandings and yet we must make them anyway!
As a little sidetrack from the coronavirus let me share a story with you that happened just over a year ago to us!
We were living in Split and Toni had just joined us. When we introduced him to our charismatic friends they didn’t want to know, they were afraid and if we use the analogy of fishermen, they were happy that we caught a fish for Jesus (Toni) but because they didn’t know how to help they seemed to want us to throw the fish back in the sea and hopefully someone else more prepared might catch it!!
And so as the weeks went on the tension was palpable and they were not going to back down. They had been good to us to a point as they helped us to find an apartment to rent and invited us to their prayer meetings but their threshold was reached. They were not willing to open their hearts and minds to catholic LGBT issues any further and that was that!
Croatia is not very gay friendly and church circles even less so!
Anyway it came to January 31st and our rent for February was due the next day. I went for a long walk and to adoration, not knowing how to move forward and short on money.
After adoration I met Seamus and we went for a drink to talk and to pray. Suddenly like a bolt of lightening I got inspired as to what to do!
It was simple, it was genius and once again it was controversial. I knew it was the right thing, I knew it was from God but just like those 10 years earlier when I left Ireland, I knew I’d be misunderstood and judged.
So what did I do you may wonder?
I called Toni and told him to get a bundle of black bags and to pack his things. That night we were leaving!!
Seamus and I returned home and within 2 hours we had everything packed, the apartment tidied and we were ready to go!!
We booked a cheap bed and breakfast, put the keys in the post box, took a uber taxi and we were gone!!
Safe for a few days in our temporary accommodation we messaged our ‘friends’ and told them that we had decided to go. They went crazy!
“If that was the Holy Spirit then I’m an astronaut” yelled one of the leaders.
They could not see how their refusal to help us and open their hearts and led God to telling us to leave! Instead they played the victim card and once again we were accused of following the devil!
I knew well it would happen and I didn’t have time for their nonsense. Toni’s passport needed to be organised and I didn’t have time to be arguing with people who wouldn’t listen. They could call me the devil if they wished, I’d heard it all before anyway and was used to the bullying and manipulation!
Yet God smiled on us! Despite the stress the owner of the bed and breakfast came every day with sandwiches and yoghurts and when he heard that we were missionaries he was thrilled!!!
We could feel God blessing us through him even if we knew that others were attacking us!
Toni’s passport got sorted and after 3 months in Medjugorje we came to London!
But it doesn’t stop there!! Upon arriving in London we booked a room in Clapham Common and as we walked to the building who did we meet but one of our charismatic friends from Split who had really let us down!
She was in London to learn english and she nearly died of shock upon seeing us. After all it’s a very big city and what are the odds that on our first day that we should meet her?!!
She was so traumatised that the next day she went to a charismatic conference and needed prayer! Seamus was at the same conference a year later and when he told them our story they remembered her!!
The poor girl had been very good to us but sadly she got caught up in the crossfire and lost courage. Truth be told she didn’t know who or what to believe and we wish her well as she truly had a beautiful heart.
Anyway, all that to say that following Jesus often involves making very hard decisions which will inevitably lead to division and misunderstandings.
Not only will your enemies not like your decisions, some and maybe even many or all your friends may turn against you too.
Remember that Jesus died with just Mary and John at the foot of the cross.
And in these times too we are all going to have to make decisions that others will perhaps not like. We see it already with the Pope who is heavily criticised by some of the cardinals as he moves the church forward.
The Pope is a man who knows that things must change. He is not afraid to speak out and he’s not afraid to be a shepard to the flock during this time even if it should cost him his life, his health and his reputation!
We too are being stretched by Jesus during this period. Do we choose safety and our health or do we choose the gospel and eternal life?
Are we willing to put Jesus in the first place? Are we willing to lose friends? To be told that we are being deceived or that we are mentally ill or following demons?
These are the tests that the saints went through and these are the tests that we too will be put through!
Padre Pio lived every bit of it and more!
And so friends, this is a time for our faith and hope and charity and strength to shine. This is a time to give all for Jesus even if that means dying which will happen one day or the other anyway!
These are exciting times spiritually speaking, they are also extreme times when extreme faith is needed!
So let’s not be afraid to choose Jesus and to make those tough decisions that lead to eternal life!
Have a great day and may our Lord Jesus give you His peace and His strength in these challenging times.