Today’s readings stir up reminders of God’s eye watching over us, pitying us. It is also St. Patrick’s Day, always a major festivity for Americans with Irish in their bloodline. Or, at least that’s how it is in my family. At the age of sixteen, St. Patrick (389-461) was kidnapped from his village in Roman Britain to serve as a slave in Ireland. After six years he escaped, went back to Ireland, became a priest, and eventually a bishop. Now that is some serious fortitude! Then he has a dream in which Irish voices, those who had enslaved him in his prime youthful years, call him back to Ireland. He spends the next thirty years saving souls there and his legendary impact is still celebrated with fervor today. What is important to note is that he was first a victim of Irish injustice then later a leader who becomes a symbol of that same country’s pride. He was able to forgive without resentment, which led to his legendary impact. He “let it go”.
Whenever I hear the saying “let it go” I remember taking my young cousin to see Disney’s Frozen, on ice. As we exit, multiple little kids are enthusiastically singing out the theme song “Let it go, let it go…!!” I laughingly wondered, what in the world does a 6-year-old need to let go of in their life? That was pre-pandemic, and in hindsight, God found a way to prepare them for the challenges that would lie ahead for them (e.g., mask-wearing, online learning, social distancing). God “pitied” them as we hear in Isaiah “For He who pities them, leads them” (Is. 49:10). Normally, we would not want to be pitied, but how grateful we are that God has pity on us! Picture God’s gaze from Heaven, with Jesus and Mary on each side. What element of my life is the focus of their pity? Once I can recognize it, and “let it go” they can lead me.
All this, is because “The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all His works”(Ps. 145:9). It is intriguing to see ourselves as one of God’s works. Certainly we know we are His creation, but while thinking about ourselves as a “work-in-progress” is natural, thinking about God working on us as part of His own work to be done, is awe-inspiring. Jesus reaffirms “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work”(John 5:17). We need to be listening in order to hear where we are in their work, “Those who hear will live” (John 5:25).
Recognizing where we are in His work enables us to move past our trouble-spots and onto God’s will for us. When I inquired about the best way to know God’s will for me, my wise Jesuit friend, Fr. Spitzer SJ once told me, “Tina, just do what you are uniquely created to do. If someone else can do it…let them!” This is a valuable way to let things go, and be sure that what you are doing, planning, becoming, really is God’s will. Know that you are His work, and let go of anything that stands in His way.
[Readings: Is 49:8-15; Jn 5:17-30]