This last week end Teresa and I were blessed with the opportunity to visit Ramirez and El Mexiquito, the two poorest ejidos we have here in the counties of Progreso and Juarez. Both of these villages being so poor and one completely without a chapel, along with a tremendous shortage of priests here in Northern Mexico has left them nearly without any sense of the Bible or the Catholic Faith. Ramirez received one visit during Holy Week last year while El Mexiquito has never had a priest celebrate Mass in their village.
In fact, we are the first missionaries they have ever met. It shows in the fact that even the most common of Spanish praise songs “Alaberé”, “El Amor de Dios es Maravioso”, and “No Hay Dios” have never been sung in community here. All of this presents both a challenge and a Spirit-led opportunity like we have never experienced before. God is so good!!!
When we presented the readings for this week’s communion service I had prepared a message on the Sermon on the Mount but I felt like God was speaking to us through the Psalm at that moment (Psalm 119:1). The refrain in Spanish was “Dichoso el que cumple la voluntad de Dios” –Happy he who does God’s will. I realized how happy I was in accepting the call to missions. I recognized the deep life-changing joy that comes with stepping out into the unknown. I shared with the people that our happiness is closely attached to our faith. Our temptations are perhaps firstly challenges to believe that God’s will holds more joy for your life than any other will, including your own.
I am reminded of Adam and Eve in the happiness of the Garden of Eden. They had all that they needed to be completely happy but they were tempted by the serpent who challenged them to believe that God was holding back. It was a temptation to see and experience God’s will as and imprisoning rather than liberating. Oftentimes our sight is an obstacle to the true joy God has for us. As Pope Frances notes, “Faith by its very nature demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer; it is an invitation to turn to the source of the light.” When Eve “saw” that the fruit was good instead of God’s goodness, she experienced a need to liberate herself from God’s will and ate the fruit.
I try and say all the time that God is so good!! I say it with excitement to help remind me of His goodness. I try and live in remembrance of this goodness each day. As I remember His faithfulness my eyes become more accustomed to see this same goodness and faithfulness each day in our life here. This “remembering of God’s goodness” was what gave Abraham the hope to pursue God’s call to leave his people. “As a response to a word which preceded it, Abraham’s faith would always be an act of remembrance. Yet this remembrance is not fixed on past events but, as the memory of a promise, it becomes capable of opening up the future, shedding light on the path to be taken. We see how faith, as remembrance of the future, memoria futuri, is thus closely bound up with hope.”
In Mexiquito, I shared with the people about how great the love of God is. Without end, without boundaries, His Love is fills His Will. This is the challenge of Faith. Do we really believe that His Will is also His life-filling, joy-filling, marvelous love? The Psalmist points us to a profound truth—when we give ourselves up to the Will of God we also place ourselves in the center of His Love.