March 27, 2022
Sometimes we feel helpless, dealing with someone we love but who is making bad decisions and won’t listen. Like the Prodigal Son. Here are 5 things we can do.
- There are various relationships where one feels the other is falling away spiritually. The devil uses these situations to cause division and indifference to break the bonds, and even to cause hatred.
- These situations often call us to go from human means to divine means.
- Five acts that are found in Jesus crucified to help people when we feel helpless ourselves, are love, pray, forgive, offer and trust.
The five things we can do when we feel like we can’t do anything, when we feel helpless, to help a person who won’t listen. The first, the foundational one, is love, willing the good of the other person. The second is praying for that person, interceding for that person. The third is forgiving. The fourth is offering up the pain, with the help of Jesus’ grace, for the salvation of others. And then the fifth is trust, trust in the Lord. That act of trust draws so many graces upon the person who was making the act of trust and the person, the whole situation, for which we are entrusting to the Lord.
“Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me. So, the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings, and set off to a distant country.” This Laetare Sunday, doesn’t begin with joy. It begins with sadness, the sadness of this father, seeing the son go away. And a son going away, not just physically, that wasn’t the worst part, but the sense that his son was going away spiritually. And feeling very helpless. There was nothing he could say that could change that. And this is a situation that a lot of people come to me, who are facing. Facing children, as I say, who are going away, either physically, not so much physically, but especially spiritually. And sensing that their words, the parents’ words, don’t do any good. They sometimes feel like they’re making a situation worse, causing more tension and the parents are feeling very helpless. And here, it’s a father with the son, but it could be other relationships as well. It could be parents, with their grandchildren, it could be children, with their parents, it could be with siblings, it could be with a friend. And in these situations, the devil loves these situations, he wants to use it to cause division and indifference to break the bonds, and to even cause hatred. And so, in a situation in which a person is feeling helpless, what can we do. And these are often situations in which we are called to go from human means to divine means. Because even Jesus Himself, after His intense public ministry of preaching and healing and working miracles, and casting out demons, but that wasn’t enough, there was that time in which He seemed now completely helpless, not active as He was before doing so much but now helpless nailed to a cross. And yet, that was the time in which He was actually most effective. And as we celebrate this time of Lent, we have the face from the image of the Holy Shroud there behind the altar to recall to us, the presence of Jesus crucified at the present with us as we celebrate this Mass, because He is the great example of this. And so, what I want to share with you, I want to share with you some practical points, which it’s nothing new, it’s things you’ve heard before. But many people have told me when I’ve shared this with them, that it was helpful for them to hear this again, and these are not easy things. This is a hard things, but that bring blessing, both to the person for whom they are done, and also for the person who is doing them. And all of them again, these five things that I’m going to mention are all found in Jesus crucified, and His example on the cross. And so the five ways, the five things we can do when we feel like we can’t do anything, when we feel helpless, to help a person. The first, the foundational one is love. But as we’ve often said, Love the Christian love in the sense of willing the other person’s good and not necessarily feeling something because our feelings might be very negative towards the person, but willing choosing good for that person. And again, that’s the foundation for all the rest. And sometimes we might be able to manifest that love, sometimes we’re not able to manifest it. But that is where all this the other points come from. So that’s the first point. Love, willing the good of the other person. The second point is praying. One concrete thing we can do for someone else, one way, we can act in a loving way, we can, what you say like in a sense, mobilize, or put that love into practice, even if the person is far away, or even if we can’t communicate with a person is by praying for that person. And so, praying for that person interceding for that person. And at the same time, that prayer can be an opportunity to confide the pain that we’re feeling to the Lord, and to receive from Him the grace that we need in that situation to strengthen us. And also, to receive the guidance that we need in these situations, which are often very sensitive. The grace to know like when would be a time to say something or do something. So that’s the second point, to pray, to pray for the person. And again, Jesus on the cross is our example. Jesus on the cross is there because of love and He continues His prayer, and His intercession on the cross. And then three, the third point is to forgive. And we remember Jesus, that we have the example here in this gospel today, of the Father’s forgiveness of his son. And Jesus on the cross is the example for us, of forgiving those who are causing Him this pain, those who came to save and who are causing this pain. Jesus replied, not with hatred and revenge, but Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Several weeks ago, I preached a homily on that, on this act of forgiveness, very challenging, but very powerful. Because precisely in a situation in which satan wants to cause hatred, that forgiveness is changing, breaking that dynamic of the evil one. The fourth point is to offer the pain, that this hurt the very pain that this person is causing the very pain that satan wants to use to cause us to respond with hatred. We can offer that take that very pain, in fact that’s again, what Jesus did on the cross, the very pain that we were causing Him, instead of responding with hatred, and revenge, He used that very pain, to become an offering for our salvation. And so, we’re taking a very occasion that satan wants to use to cause greater evil and greater harm, with the help of Jesus grace, we’re using it for the salvation of the other person. And so that forgiveness and that sacrifice for the persons who we love and who are hurting us, this is so powerful that precisely the cross, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. And then the fifth, the last point, I’ll mentioned, is trust, trust in the Lord. We know that at the end, on the cross, Jesus prayed Father, into your hands, I commend, I entrust my spirit. Jesus entrusting His mission, in this Mission of Salvation to the Father. And we know how much to St. Faustina He insists on the importance of trust. And this trust can sometimes be heroic. Because sometimes it can be a trust, which is over a long needs perseverance and trust over a long period, even dying, sometimes without seeing the fruits of all of this. Jesus himself, as he died, He died without seeing in His humanity, the effects of all that He had done, His mission seem to be ending, not in a great success. But as He closed His eyes to His life here on this earth, He was closing His eyes on what seemed to be the complete destruction of all that He had done. And yet He entrusted it all to His father, and He was triumphant. That act of trust draws so many graces upon the person who is making the act of trust and the person, the whole situation, for which we are entrusting to the Lord. So, in summary, those, those five acts are love, pray, forgive, offer, trust. I tried to come up with that neat little acronym, but I can’t come up with one. So, if you come up with one, let me know. So those help remind us that we can’t change the other person. We’re not responsible for changing the other person. And so many times we carry this heavy weight of thinking, I have to change the other person. And we can’t change the other person. But we’re not responsible for changing the other person. We’re responsible for doing our part, doing what the Lord is asking us. And this is a way to do our part, so that we can be an instrument of His grace. This gospel began in sadness, but it ends in joy. “Now we must celebrate and rejoice because your brother was dead and has come to life again. He was lost and has been found.” And St. Paul says today, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. In this new creation, we see is already beginning in the son. So, as we celebrate this Mass, with our Blessed Mother, we call it the Mass unites us to the sacrifice of Jesus, and united also in the sense of inviting us to unite our sacrifices. Our efforts to the sacrifice of Jesus so that they’re united to Him, for the salvation of all souls, and especially these particular souls that the Lord has entrusted to our heart. And so right now, as we celebrate this Mass, this Mass of the holy sacrifice of Jesus, it’s an opportunity to put perhaps one or several of these acts into practice, right now, maybe for somebody who you’re especially called to help through love, through prayer, through forgiveness, through sacrifice, and through trust. Amen.