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Pastor's Column

Insights from a Traffic Jam

Pastor’s Column

The Most Holy Trinity

May 2024

Image of Airport Traffic Jam - Generated with AI Copilot ∙ May 26, 2024 at 12:36 AM

One year I had the good fortune to be on a priests’ retreat out in the Mojave Desert at Saint Andrew’s Monastery (where I had once been a novice). To get there I flew into Los Angeles International Airport (a mistake). There before me was the “busiest freeway in America,” a freeway with five lanes of traffic in each direction, going nowhere fast. My destination was 90 miles away. Even though it was 9 o’clock at night, traffic was stopped in both directions for as far as the eye could see. And this is normal there.

Where were all these people going so late on a Sunday night, I asked myself? And where are we going? We’re all on the highway of life, surrounded by cars on their own journey, yet we share the road together – believers and unbelievers – good drivers and bad drivers – the selfless and the selfish, all in this together. And we all have one common destination in the end – death. We all have someplace to go, but we don’t know at what point the freeway will be closed and we will be forced to take the off ramp.

Sometimes we get stopped in traffic, so to speak, stopped by illnesses or difficulties; or perhaps we are lost and don’t know where to go. These kinds of trials and tribulations can bring much meaning to our lives. When we’re forced to slow down by sickness, this gives us an opportunity to reflect on where our life is going. At other times we are able to travel the road of life going at a very high speed, but perhaps going in the wrong direction!

St. Paul was someone who knew about a road trip, because he took so many of them in the New Testament. He points out that not only are our afflictions not always something “bad for us”; but, in fact, he rejoices in his afflictions! He even boasts of his afflictions! Why? Because our suffering can produce endurance and endurance shapes our character, and a proven character gives us hope, and hope leads us to eternal life (Romans 5:1-5).

This is certainly true when we think of any committed relationship such as marriage. Love is not proved by the good times we have with someone, so much as by the tough times. It’s when we have been there for somebody when it isn’t easy that we know we love them. This is what builds our character and solidifies our relationships with each other. In the same way, what we’ve gone through in our lives is something that we also share with the Lord who suffered very much in his short life. The whole point of our trials is that we will grow. Saint Faustina once begged God to take a cross away from someone that she was praying for and the Lord said to her, “I cannot take their suffering away from them until they learn what they need to learn from it. Only then will I remove that cross.” What is God expecting us to learn from our sufferings? In those times we find ourselves going nowhere fast, stuck, maybe God has a reason for it. Ask him.

Father Gary ~


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