What a tremendous piece of good news!
Oh, how I wish that was true of my two sisters’ families in Italy: to have the Lord drop in for a visit as they struggle, not only financially, but also with pain, doubts and anxieties! Oh, how I wish that the Lord will show me which families of our parish need to find the way to harmony, reconciliation, cooperation, hope and healing through my modest pastoral ministry. Actually, from what I hear around, from the requests for prayers that I get, I know that practically all of you, all families, would like to hear those wonderful and soothing words:
Today, salvation has come to this house.
My guess is that, on any given day, close to half of us attending Holy Mass would want Jesus to pay a visit to their homes at His earliest convenience. This is because the loss, the anxiety, the pain, the uncertainty is so very real, so very unsettling, so very taxing NOW.
And for those among us who are enjoying a reprieve in these days and months, here is a reminder of what they endured perhaps in recent time or might have to face in the future. There are words so ominous that the mere sound sends shivers down our spine: cancer, divorce, Alzheimer disease, unemployment, senseless violence, betrayal, death caused by opioid abuse, any untimely passing. There are others that, although not so frightening, are still capable of turning our lives upside down: bankruptcy, sexual assault, addiction to (fill in the blank), foreclosure, and so on.
Yet, even without having to face trials of this magnitude, a prolonged, nagging situation with no end in sight, with no foreseeable solution, can wear us down and spoil the share of simple life’s enjoyments to which we feel entitled. Let me give you some examples:
- The resentment and the bitterness that keep growing in the heart of a son or daughter who feels that they are left alone to care for an aging parent with serious disabilities, while other siblings do not contribute.
- An adult son or daughter still living at home who are wasting their lives away; have erected thick walls around themselves; and refuse any help.
- Being enslaved by pride to such a degree that all lines of communication are severed; small incidents are blown out of proportion to justify one’s immovable stance; and one’s reputation is gradually eroded by innuendos and fabrications.
- Other similarly painful situations can be easily created by jealousy, revenge, obsession to control people’s lives, a manipulative personality and other sinister aspects of one’s makeup.
Today, salvation has come to this house.
One time or another we might have found ourselves, or are presently, in a situation that seemed, or seems now, totally helpless and unsolvable. Today, our dire need for comfort and reassurance and reasonable solutions takes us to contemplate Jesus, our God in human flesh who, out of compassion, has entered our time (perhaps this very day) and space (our home, our workplace, our situation) so as to experience firsthand what we experience day in and day out.
The first thing that we must notice is what I, as a priest, keep noticing daily: the fact that our God is still very reluctant to perform sensational miracles because sensationalism is short lived and only skin-deep. Our God-made-flesh, our Lord Jesus, prefers to make simple miracles that, because of their very nature, might go unnoticed.
His MO has not changed in millennia; nor will it change in the near future.
Nobody noticed His work in the heart of Zacchaeus; nobody noticed how He had led Zacchaeus to desire to see Him; nobody saw the depth of such desire that brought Zacchaeus to divest himself of dignified composure as an adult and act like a little kid (running ahead and climbing trees).
Before that ardent desire to see Jesus up close, nobody had noticed anything unusual. Rather, the self-righteous people of Jericho, with one accord, had clung to the old image of greedy, stingy, grumpy, reclusive Zacchaeus.
If we want the Lord to stop at our home today or as soon as possible, we should, first of all, renew our faith in His divine sensitivity, which is “enhanced,” so to speak, by the flesh He received from the Virgin Mary and we must believe that He feels all our pain, all our darkness, all our loss.
Secondly, we ought to fine-tune our “spiritual listening apparatus,” i.e., our way of detecting His subtle messages, His hints, His insights, His words of reassurance and guidance.
Thirdly, we have to shed our old way of seeing people, especially those who are for us a source of worries, resentment and hurts; and look at them with the eyes of God so as to detect how the Lord is working also in them for the simple reason that they, too, are His children.
Finally, we have to abandon ourselves unreservedly into Lord’s loving hands so that He may heal us, heal everyone else in our family and use us as docile tools to multiply His simple, little, subtle miracles all around.
REVEREND DINO VANIN, PIME was born in Cendon di Silea, Province of Treviso, Italy in 1946. He entered the PIME Seminary at Treviso at the tender age of eleven. He came to the U.S. in 1968, studying Theology at Darlington Major Seminary in New Jersey. He has an MA in Secondary School Administration from Seton Hall University. Ordained in 1972, he served as an administrator, teacher, rector and principal at the PIME High School Seminary in Newark, Ohio before being sent to the missions of Thailand, where he served for six years. He is currently the Treasurer of the U.S. Region of PIME in Detroit. On December 16, 2018 he was installed as Pastor of San Francesco Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI. Every week he takes some time off from his parish ministry to do some administrative work at PIME headquarters in Detroit. Due to his increased workload at the parish while continuing as Treasurer of the U. S. Region of PIME and as counselor and spiritual director, he spends any time left doing a little woodworking.