Deacons Bench - February 17th
Even though we Christians know that God loves us and cares for us (we see the evidence for this every day, all around us), it can still be very challenging to be a disciple, a follower of Christ. In a culture that is increasingly turning its back on God and the Church, we can find our faith ridiculed, attacked, dismissed as ignorant or irrelevant or bigoted. It is easier to believe when those around us also believe; harder to believe when our neighbors, friends, even family turn away from God and the Church. It’s hard to be faithful to God when faith in God is “counter-cultural.”
Another challenge in being a faithful disciple of Christ is found precisely in that: being a disciple of Christ, not a disciple of someone else.
In our first Reading this weekend, the prophet Jeremiah puts it very bluntly (as prophets are wont to do):
“Thus says the LORD: cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD….” (Jeremiah 17:5).
That means, we should not be looking to other people for ultimate guidance, or wisdom, we should not be looking to other people to save us: not a President, not a Political Party, not a famous actress or musician, not our friends, not our family, not even ourselves. As
Proverbs instructs us:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and [here comes the “counter -cultural” part] do not rely on your own insight…. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil”
The prophet Jeremiah says that to turn away from the Lord is to be like “a barren bush in the desert.” But, Jeremiah also holds out hope (as prophets tend to do): “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.” Why? Because, unlike the dry bush in the desert, the one who trusts in the Lord “is like a tree planted beside the waters…. In the year of drought, it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”
I’m no prophet, but I do fear that we are moving toward a “year of drought” in our culture—a drought of love for God (and, consequently, a drought of love for neighbor). If we want to continue to be faithful and fruitful Christians, we must continually cling tightly to God: in daily
prayer, in regular reception of the Sacraments—especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist-; in weekly worship at Mass; in monthly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament—these are the “streams of water” (Psalm 1) by which we should plant ourselves. In our time of cultural “drought,” we will still be green, still bearing fruit, in the midst of a culture that is slowly drying up, slowly becoming more fruitless.
Pastors Pen - February 24th
My first experience of the Fish boil! I enjoyed it along with some priests who were also having it for the first time. Indeed, the event displays the spirit and strength of our community. I hear good things spoken of it. I learn that “it has been a very good turn out.” People of the area really enjoy this event. For me, it was also an opportunity for socializing with people: “Oh, it’s so good to see the awesome troupe of young people at work,” said a couple who also appreciated the food, saying, “it’s too delicious.” “We came from Chippewa,” said another group seated at one of the tables, “we always look forward to it.” I added, “I came all the way from India.” We had a good laugh. Glad to know that the Fish boil brings people from the neighboring towns too. Truly proud of you volunteers- young and old, who make a celebration of community’s life!
I appreciate your good work and the time given for it. I would say, just keep going; and keep building up the Parish community.
St Luke presents a collection of sayings of Jesus in today’s Gospel passage. These sayings do challenge everyone. Perhaps we can easily dismiss them as impossible, or to minimize as ideals that no one was ever meant to follow. Such a line of thought would be a huge surprise to the Evangelist Luke. For, he has clear purpose in placing these before his community. He wants to make it clear that Jesus intended his followers to live by them. G.K Chesterton famously remarked: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried” (Chapter 5,What’s Wrong with the World). No doubt, Christianity is a religion of challenge. And Jesus does not stop challenging us.
Jesus drew these great lessons from a careful study of the Father’s ways, and he expected his disciples pattern their lives after the things the Father has taught him. If we call ourselves as “children of God”, then we ought to pattern our lives after the Father’s ways. Living the Gospel makes us like the Father. That’s what a “child of God” does: Finding the loving thing to do, forgiving those who wrong us, or sharing our gifts with those who do not deserve them. Why? Because, God is always ready to love, give and forgive; just so, those who call themselves “children of God” must follow God’s example in all ways.
Christianity is a religion of heart; and it aims to soften hearts: Stop judging; forgive and you will be forgiven; give, and gifts will be given you; do to others as you would have them do to you. These sayings of Jesus are do-able. It requires a conscious effort on our part. Then the
assurance of Jesus will be ours: “Your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked” (Lk 6:35). Learn the art of bringing yourselves to a conscious awareness of whatever you do on a daily basis. That’s the key!
Snow, snow, and snow! Some say I brought it! Shall I take credit for it? Since I brought it, I want all of you to enjoy it for a while. If you don’t, you might long for it when it’s gone. So enjoy it now. By the way, be careful of telling joke while standing on ice.
Why can’t you tell a joke while standing on ice? Because it might crack up!
See you next Sunday!