Happy feast day of the ascension to you all.
Those poor apostles who were left lost and confounded after the death of Jesus were once again left with their mouths wide open staring into heaven and wondering “what next?”.
They certainly didn’t get it easy when it came to following Jesus and Jesus certainly didn’t go out of His way to make it easy either.
Jesus could have left a long letter explaining everything and what was happening and yet He chose not to.
It seems a bit cruel and surely He could have saved much suffering. Yet Our Lady was already somewhat used to Jesus’ ‘hide and seek’ ways as she had participated in that game some 20 or so years beforehand when He got lost in Jerusalem.
Unlike the apostles who were prone to grumbling, Our Lady took it to prayer where she discovered why Jesus behaved like this.
Trust! You see the beginning and end of the spiritual life is trust and for trust to come to maturity it must be tested.
Sadly the only way we tend to really learn this is through trials but these trials are also our witness to others.
Witness that our life with Jesus isn’t easy but can be joyful, isn’t pain free but can be trustful!
With this in mind allow me to share another one of my little stories of trust with you.
I was in Australia where I was doing an internship in a Christian inner-healing ministry. I had been there for over a year and I was running a 12 week healing course for a small group of younger guys both of whom were struggling with same sex attraction and christianity.
I’ll call the guy I want to talk about Ken.
Ken was married to his childhood sweetheart at only 19. He loved her to bits but there was a problem. He was unable to have sexual intercourse with her. He simply wasn’t attracted to her in that way and for poor Ken there was neither a resurrection or an ascension into heaven so to speak !!
So he was coming to us for help and Ron, the leader of the ministry, thought that I could help him.
Now Ken was hoping that through some miracle prayer that he might muster up enough excitement down below to perform the deed and live happily ever after.
I on the other hand was under no illusions, I’d been through too much with Jesus and like Our Lady I’d come to know that Jesus’ ways were not so straightforward.
After about 5 weeks into the course it all seemed futile. All Ken was talking about was Barbie and putting it brutally, he was far more in love with Barbie than he was with Jesus.
I knew that somehow he had to have an experience of the love of Jesus before the reality of his marriage situation was going to set in. I asked him if he’d like to meet for a private prayer session and later that week he did.
As usual, just before something big and significant was about to happen we almost had a row. Evil is very cunning and will try every trick in the book to block spiritual progress.
I prayed with him for about an hour and he began to cry and release much pain from his childhood and forgave his parents for so much pressure they had put on him.
Now he was ready to really accept Jesus I thought and to deal maturely with the marriage situation…
He came back a few days later for the course and he was glowing.
With joy and tears he said that he had come to accept his same sex attraction and that while he loved his wife that he couldn’t be her husband and that they would have to get an annulment.
And so like the apostles Ken had to get go of one way of love in order to embrace another.
I could tell you many other similar stories such as the gay seminarian who came to me for healing and later discovered that Jesus was not asking him to continue in the seminary like that and that he had a whole other plan for him.
Yet all the stories have one common denominator. They are stories of faith and of unexpected twists and turns in the ways of the Lord and in the journey of life.
Needless to say I got into lots of trouble because of all this! To some I was a marriage destroyer sent by Satan while to others I was a cunning serpent disguised in light robbing the church of a future priest!
Thankfully I was surrounded by a strong Christian community who helped me deal with these accusations and not take them to heart.
So what is my message today and who is it for?
My message is one of hope and one of openness. Hope that God has a plan for you and be open to the fact that it may be very different to what you had expected.
So no matter what your situation and life dilemma, let’s join with the apostles in prayer and in hope today and let us open our hearts to a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives and churches this Pentecost.
“Come Holy Spirit, I give you all my life, all my mistakes and all the tricky situations that I have got myself into. I believe in the power of Jesus working through you. Lead me, guide me, free me, teach me and make me and my life into a life-giving story of hope for everyone to see for your glory and the glory of my father in heaven.
Have a wonderful day,
P.S. Ken went onto be a leading worship leader in his church and the seminarian is now in a committed relationship with another man and helps other gay Christians while remaining committed to the church and to prayer. Praise you Jesus!