Reflections: November 2019

By Father Chris Thomas

Will you come and follow me?

Many years ago I came across a man called Steve who worked with people who had disabilities. His life had been tragically marred by childhood abuse. He was so badly damaged that much of his way of thinking, particularly about himself, was twisted and broken. We became good friends, but he struggled with life and particularly with trust of God and of others.

Then he was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare cancer and something happened within him. He told me that he turned around and ‘God was there’. The healing that he had always desired began to take place. He was transformed within as the cancer ravaged his body. He began to know that he was loved by God and by those around him. He forgave people who had damaged him so badly and he learned how to trust. He eventually died aged 64, a healed, whole, free man who finally knew that God can be trusted.

The whole of the Scriptures are an invitation to trust that God is on our side and that whatever may be going on in our lives, God is there for us.

I don’t think that there is any better example of that than Mary in Luke’s Gospel. Luke paints a beautiful picture of Mary and an angel coming to visit her to make the point to us that however God breaks through into our lives, we have a choice. We can trust that God will be God, or we can wonder and question and never ultimately do what Mary did and say: ‘Let it be.’

I often wonder where we get the picture of gentle Mary from and how we interpret her in the way we do in religious artwork – meek and mild, dressed in blue and white with her hands joined looking into the skies. This was a strong lady who was willing to face her fears and walk into the darkness, trusting in the God she experienced. She was pregnant, alone in a society where at the very least she would have been shunned if not stoned to death. Despite that: ‘Let it be’.

The challenge she gives us is to open our hearts and allow God to break through into our lives trusting that He will be there for us and, even in the most difficult circumstances, will bring good about. Luke presents Mary as the prototype of the disciple, the one who says ‘let it be’, the one who trusts and who follows. Are you willing to trust in the God who is present and who is with you as Mary did? Are you willing to follow the Lord wherever He may lead?