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‘Into thy hands I commend my spirit’
A reflection from Keelan Scharbach, a student away from home
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:46
In January, I traveled overseas for the first time to Spain for a semester with a school I knew almost nothing about, and without knowing a single person in the program.
While I’ve made friends here, I’ve had a difficult time truly connecting with them because of diverse interests and personalities, and drama within the group. So, instead of focusing on the beauty of the countries I’ve been in and the memories I’ve made, my mind has been pre-occupied with how much I wish I could change my experience here and the frustrations I’ve faced.
Sometimes, I become so caught up in my thoughts, and lonely for everyone at home, that I don’t even remember to pray. Or maybe I choose not to because of the bitterness inside my heart.
“This experience isn’t what I wanted!” I say to myself again and again. So I talk to my mom, I listen to Catholic podcasts on my commute to and from school, and I’m reminded once again of the power and necessity of prayer. The need to constantly turn towards God and rededicate myself to Him.
On the cross before his last breath, Jesus dedicates and commits himself to the will of his Father, and I’ve been learning that this is what we, as Christians, are called to do each day as well. Each day we’re called to pray, just as Jesus did, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” We’re called to daily conversion, to turn toward God again and again and say, “Yes, I am yours. Help me to follow your will for me.”
By reuniting ourselves each day with Christ’s love, we’re given the opportunity to live our lives for him, not just in the safety of our houses or our thoughts, but publicly, for everyone to see.
Too often it’s easy to imitate St. Peter’s denial, if not in deed than by inaction. Christ died for us in public, suffering humiliation for a crime he didn’t commit. This Lenten season, I’ve been particularly reminded how we are all called to be like Christ, living in humility and love and displaying it for all the world to see.
One of the most surprising things about being abroad is how much stronger my faith has grown as I’ve learned more about loving God. At home, wrapped up in the daily habits of life, it’s so easy for me to become content. To go about my day without thinking of Jesus until I collapse into and say a short, exhausted prayer.
But here, it’s different. I’ve been uprooted, and I have more time to walk, reflect, and listen, and I have new struggles to overcome that I’ve not had to deal with before. More than ever, I am reminded and am learning to dedicate myself to Christ each day, and to live with his joy in my heart, instead of carrying all of my frustrations around like a gray cloud.
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