Monday, May 15, 2017

HARDSHIPS -- AND PEACE.



          Six years ago a book was published with the interesting title: The Boy who Met Jesus. It told the story of a 15-year-old penniless boy in the African country of Rwanda named Segatashya who had never been to school or a church, and had never seen a Bible. Resting under a shade tree one day in 1982, he was visited by Jesus, who asked Segatashya if he’d be willing to go on a mission to remind people how to live a life that leads to heaven.

         Segatashya accepted the assignment on one condition: that Jesus answer all his questions  --  about faith, religion, the purpose of life, and the nature of heaven and hell. Jesus agreed to the boy’s terms, and Segatashya set off on what would become a most miraculous journey. Some of what the young man learned confirms things we have heard in our two readings.

“What you need to know is this,” Segatashya told the book’s author. “Jesus knows us all to the very depths of our souls, all our dreams and worries, all hopes and fears, all our goodness

and all our weakness. He can see our sins and faults and wants nothing more than for us to heal our hearts and cleanse our souls so that we can love him as immea­surably as he loves us. When he sends us suffering, he does it only to strengthen our spirits so we'll be strong enough to fight off Satan, who wants to destroy us, so that one day we can bask in the glory of his presence forever.”

            Paul says something similar in our first reading: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”  I discovered those words over 70 years ago. They have helped me through I couldn’t tell you how many trials ever since.

          “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you,” we heard Jesus saying in the gospel.” Segatashya must have heard those words, for he told the book’s author: “When I was with him, I never wanted to leave. If he asked me to come and be with him now, I would leave this world for­ever without the slightest hesitation. To be near him is to live in love; no words need be spoken. In his presence, your soul is at peace and completely joyous. Know that his love is real, and that it is eternal and ours to have if we love him and do his will on earth. Ask him into your heart, and all his graces are yours. He will refuse you nothing. If you were able to know only one truth in your life, you should know this truth: Jesus loves you.”

          Sadly, the young man who spoke those words was killed in the Rwandan slaughter of 1984. Our Christian faith gives us reason to hope that we’ll meet him one day in heaven.