Father Michael Barrow

From the parish of St Francis of Assisi

Father and fondler of heart he has wrung

Father and fondler of heart he has wrung

 To prepare for Sunday Mass it is a good idea to read and give thought to the readings in your missal or Bible. Here are some questions to ponder. First Reading [Job 7:1-4, 6-7] Sometimes, do you feel like Job in this reading? Can you have faith in God, even if you don't understand why people suffer? Second Reading [1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23] "For the weak I made myself weak. I made myself all things to all men and women." Can I be like that with people who drive me mad? Gospel [Mark 1:21-28] Do you think the people who came for healing came closer to Christ or were just thinking of themselves?

"Father and fondler of heart he has wrung" is the way the Jesuit poet Hopkins describes God, not removing our hurt but letting Christ bring comfort and consolation.

Martin Luther King managed to put such experience into words, describing what he went through at a time when everyone else was thinking how wonderful he was. One night when he had received a very nasty phone-call he was completely overcome with fear and almost despair – a bit like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemani. He describes it in Stride Towards Freedom:

An angry voice said: "Listen, nigger, we've taken all we want from you; before next week you'll be sorry you ever came to Montgomery." I hung up, but I couldn't sleep. It seemed that all of my fears had come down on me at once. I had reached the saturation point. I got out of bed and began to walk the floor. Finally I went to the kitchen and heated a pot of coffee. I was ready to give up. With my coffee sitting untouched before me I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing a coward. In this state of exhaustion, when my courage had all but gone, I decided to take my problem to God. With my head in my hand, I bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud. The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory.

"I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I've come to the point where I can't take it alone."At that moment I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before.

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