Unbreakable

A reflection on being unbreakable

Not too long ago, I attended a Zoom webinar put on by the San Diego Roman Catholic Diocese where a New Orleans priest gave a talk on the theme “Unbreakable”. His name is Fr. Tony Picard. I’ve heard him speak before and loved every minute of it, so I was very excited about this webinar featuring him. For free, even! Events like these usually cost money so I feel very blessed to have been able to attend. I gained a lot of insight and had lots
of laughs.

Fr. Tony’s talk focused on how we go through so many hardships in life, but we’re still here. He emphasized this phrase: “Because I know there is a God, I’ll be alright.” He talked about the devastating Hurricane Katrina and how it impacted his life and ministry. He talked about COVID-19 and how people like himself and others had to adapt to using more technology to connect with people. Despite everything he’s gone through in life, he’s still here.

Fr. Tony said that the struggles we go through in life will bend us, but never break us. If we trust in God, we are unbreakable. Because we know there is a God, we’ll be alright. As this is also the month of St. Joseph–he called him Blessed St. Joseph–Fr. Tony talked about how Joseph was a just man, and right with God. Every time he received God’s message through a dream, he followed through with it. He played a huge part in keeping the family safe.

Photo by Anne McCarthy on Pexels.com

I began with this because I often feel so broken. I sin, I confess, I do well in not sinning, and fail again. I feel like I’ve fallen so many times that I must have fractured something. Something has to be broken. But after tuning in to Fr. Tony’s talk, I realized that I’m not broken. I’ve just been bent. Because I know there is a God, I’ll be alright. I can’t break if God is on my side. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. And I haven’t truly given it thought
until now.

I think it’s safe to say that we all fall into sin. The problem, I think, is that we forget God’s mercy. We forget He loves us and is on our side. I struggle with a recurring sin, and for as long as I can remember, that particular sin kept me away from confession, and hatred and disgust for myself grew. I didn’t want to seem as though I wasn’t growing as a person of holiness and confess the same sin all the time. My reluctance to confess didn’t help any.

Married and pregnant, I want to show my child that no matter how many times we fall, God will be there. No matter how many times we bend, we’ll never break. If we keep the Lord in our sight, we’ll be alright. I don’t want my child to believe they’re disgusting or hate themselves the way I did for many years. It’s my hope that I can prevent that from happening as much as possible. They’ll struggle, but if I can help them find inner peace sooner, I’ll be happy.

Sunday Readings for April 25, 2021

From USCCB

Reading I

Acts 4:8-12

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said:
“Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today
about a good deed done to a cripple,
namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know
that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead;
in his name this man stands before you healed.
He is the stone rejected by you, the builders,
    which has become the cornerstone.
There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

Responsorial Psalm

118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29
R.  The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R.  Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
    for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
    than to trust in princes.
R.  The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
    and have been my savior.
The stone which the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
    it is wonderful in our eyes.
R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
    we bless you from the house of the LORD.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
    and have been my savior.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
    for his kindness endures forever.
R. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading II

1 Jn 3:1-2

Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.

Alleluia
Jn 10:14
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

Jn 10:11-18

Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”

Retreat

Do you ever want to disconnect from the world for a week–or longer–and go somewhere far from civilization? That’s me. My husband has expressed this to me as well.

I often find myself wondering how I’d adapt to living in a cabin in the woods, or a cave in the side of a mountain. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but I’d like to at least try it for a short time and see what happens!

I feel so bombarded with work and life in general. My brain is foggy, I’m exhausted and in pain from sciatica, and I’m procrastinating on certain things. I am mentally and physically drained lately. I think this is why I want to hit the road and find peace somewhere. I want to escape. Yet, responsibilities and family keep me where I am.

I think about Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert, when Satan tempted Him three times.

Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.

Matthew 4:1-11 (Douay-Rheims)

Because Jesus is both human and divine, He experienced hunger. Any human would be severely hungry after 40 days of fasting. Satan tried so hard to get Jesus to succumb, but he failed every time. What’s amazing to me is He knew He’d be tempted because the spirit revealed it to Him, and He went anyway.

I think Jesus shows us in these verses that Satan can and should be resisted. Satan had the audacity to tempt God himself, and was defeated. As humans it’s only inevitable that we succumb to temptation. But if we call on God to help us, we can certainly get through it every time and know that we’ll be forgiven. Confession makes that possible.

Satan hurls our sins at us, but when we then confess to a priest and renounce our sin, we can start over. I’m thinking of the popular phrase, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Along a similar vein: If Satan makes you look at your sins and despair, give them to Jesus and find peace.

I want my desire to disconnect from the world to coincide with Jesus’ departure into the desert. He was getting ready for His mission during this time, as this was right after His baptism by John the Baptist. I can’t say I want to be tempted by Satan, but I do want to grow in holiness. It feels so impossible right now to make any significant progress. But that very well could be Satan already whispering in my ear.

I can grow in holiness right now. I must, if I want to teach my child about the faith. It would be nice to go on a retreat when those are available again. At some point, I’d still love to disconnect at least for a little while with my husband and child, where we spend our days growing as a family and spending time in prayer. In a sense, it’ll be like preparing for our own mission with the help of God.

Judgement

I recently was gifted a Costco membership from my in laws. More accurately, my mother in law gave me my grandmother in law’s membership card; she passed away several years ago. I wish I got to meet her. The family talks very highly of her.

So, with this membership card, I’m able to get cheap gas and get bulk items. All good ways to save with a child on the way. I also have an EBT card that is shared between me, my husband, and my dad. For a long while I didn’t use my EBT at Costco.

My reasoning? I would get hardcore judged. But I finally used it the other day and no one batted an eye.

I was suddenly reminded about the verse in the Bible saying judge not, lest you be judged. Here’s the full thing for context:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Matt. 7:1-5

I was doing some more research on these verses in Matthew because I was having a hard time figuring out what Jesus meant here. At first, He seemed to be saying not to judge anyone at all.

But I read it again and realized we are indeed called to judge, but to do so rightly. Doing so without being a hypocrite. Rectify your sins first before trying to rectify others’ sins. The way you judge others is the way God will also judge you.

To put it in real world terms and relating back to my recent trip to Costco, I was afraid I was going to be judged by employees and other customers for using government aid money. It would be hypocritical to judge me as such because many people receive government assistance in one form or another. The stimulus checks, for example. Disability aid. MediCal, Medicare, Medicaid. Veteran’s aid. WiC. And so, my fear dissipated.

That’s not to say that people may not be silently judging me. But going back to the Bible and knowing that Jesus commands us to judge rightly, if I were judged during my shopping trip, I know it was a hypocrital judgement. And so, I shouldn’t worry. Hope this all makes sense.

I want to instill in my child a sense of right and wrong–as most parents want. I want to teach them that there is sin in the world and we are to recognize and judge it rightly, and to avoid it as much as humanly possible. Of course, being human, it is inevitable that we will sin, but God’s mercy is never ending and I want my child to understand this too. No matter how many times we fall, God is always there to pick us up.