WORD MADE FLESH

Third Sunday in Lent-March 27, 2011
Exodus 17.3-7 | Psalm 95 | Romans 5.1-2, 5-8 | John 4.5-42

John Connelly

 

March 21, 2011

In this week's Gospel, Jesus says of himself, "My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work."

Jesus came to do the will of his Father. This was the spiritual food that he ate. His entire life was dedicated to this purpose.

You and I were created for the same purpose - to do the will of God. No other path in life can ever fully satisfy our deep spiritual hunger.

THE WILL OF GOD

A friend of mine - Murray Chupka - died not long ago. Murray was a man who always wanted to eat the food of the will of God.

At his funeral, some interesting facts came to light. He had prayed sincerely with his good friend Kevin to become a saint. The thing about Murray is that whatever he did, he did with a profound purity of intention. I am sure he had no idea where this humble prayer for sainthood would lead him.

I knew Murray as a student and member of staff at the John Paul II Catholic Bible School. He was a convert to Catholicism with a deep desire to know God. What struck me about him was his purity of heart.

COMPANIONS OF THE CROSS

We became friends and Murray eventually decided to become a priest. He studied for one year with a religious order called the Companions of the Cross.

After taking a summer job at the Bible school he was on his way home one day to visit his parents and had a terrible head-on car accident.

That same day I happened to be headed down the same highway and came across this terrible scene. I had no idea it was my friend Murray. But my wife Tracy and I immediately began to pray for the victims.

Later I received a call on my cellphone and was able to meet Murray when the ambulance brought his bloodied body to the hospital. He was paralyzed and would never walk again.

Many of us prayed for his healing. Pain was his constant companion day after day, year after year. Murray became a companion of the cross without ever actually being ordained. He became a companion of the cross through the unimaginable suffering he endured.

I have no doubt that his dark night of the soul was heroic. Why? Because he kept saying "yes."

CLUNG TO GOD

He did not want to suffer, but he kept clinging to God. He ate the food of God's will even though it tasted bitter and hard. His family ate this food with him and shared the living agony of his prolonged dark night.

We always need to remember our cross is meant to lead to resurrection. We all must suffer at times. It is the nature of existence. None of us can escape difficulties entirely. God has a plan for us and he alone knows exactly what we need.

Each path of suffering is unique to the sufferer. God knew the best path for Murray and he knows the best path for us.

CONSIDER THE BIG PICTURE

The spiritual food God gives us may seem bitter, but when we digest it fully, it will become sweet and life-giving. Murray Chupka's life is a testament to all. The way of God's will does not always seem glorious. Jesus said that the way is hard that leads to life. But we need to look at the big picture.

The dark nights of our existence call us to total surrender. St. John of the Cross called this royal path - Nada. Nada is the recognition that no matter what happens I need to let go and totally depend on God and his divine will. This is the road of the saints.

Mother Teresa was in a dark night for years and years and she used to say, "Cling to God." That is what Murray did. He held on to God even when all seemed lost in the fog of suffering.

He loved God even in the physical, psychological and spiritual pain of his life. This is a deep lesson for us all. No matter what happens, cling to God. Love God.

Even when all seems lost, hold on to Jesus and in the end we will find, like Murray, that he always held us in his burning heart of love.

All of our paths are different, but like Murray Chupka, we can eat the spiritual food of the will of God whether it tastes sweet or bitter. In the end it leads to an eternal life of glory, love and happiness.

Farewell Murray. Your life still speaks to all of us today. May we have the courage to pray like you did: "Lord make me a saint."