“The Heart of It All”
Sunday Mass Youth Reflection for April 20, 2008
Fifth Sunday of Easter (5A)
By Rachel Gosda
Of all of the different themes in today’s Gospel, Phillip’s hesitancy is what strikes me most. I see his apprehension as an outpouring of his true yearning for the Lord and for communion with God, yet it is his fear of making mistakes and getting hurt which keeps him from fully opening his heart to Jesus’ beckoning words.
This is so often the case with me! How many times I ask, like Phillip, “[I] do not know where you are going; how can [I] know the way?”
I have found that, in my own heart, vulnerability is a very conditional thing. I open my heart when I can see the path before me, or many times, I am open to the Lord’s call only insomuch as I feel that His will is, essentially, what I want for myself. Forget about taking risks for God!
I never understood how crippling and isolating fear can be—and I never realized how strong of a grasp it had on my heart—until I studied abroad in Rome last semester. Prior to flying across the Atlantic, I had no idea that my three months abroad would be, truly, a time of discernment and deep spiritual growth.
Without the strongholds of the communities I identified with and held so dear—the communities of faith, family, and friends—and apart from all I had built up for myself, convincing myself that I was going “God’s way,” my heart was opened greatly because I was, more than ever, in such NEED of God!
During this time of great change in my heart, and in understanding of God’s call for my life, I found myself crying out in words similar to the ones Phillip asked of Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
In His great love, He responded again, in words similar to the ones He spoke to Phillip, “Have I been with you so long a time and you still do not know me?” Words that I definitely was not prepared to hear.
How LONG I had felt my heart was where it needed to be in God; how deeply I had convinced myself that I was walking the road I was supposed to be walking!
Yet I came to realize in my time in Rome—I have been with the Lord so long, trying to be faithful, pursuing Him as best as I could—(that) I never truly knew His heart because I had guarded mine with fear. Fear of being asked to go where I did not want to go. Fear of having to take risks for God.
Like Philip, I so wanted to walk God’s road; and just like Phillip, I did so waveringly, hesitantly. I wanted to see His face and hear His voice before I went any further.
Yet, just like Jesus answers Phillip, He answers me, and all of us, with words of hope and comfort, reassuring us that if we wholeheartedly believe in Him and His will, He will do great things through us.
An open heart, I have learned, is what it is all about.