Serve God Above All!

Peace and grace to you!

The Prophet Elisha wants to return-gift the couple that have been generous and kind to him.  The gift that he gives is his intercessory prayer on their behalf for the blessing of a baby boy.  Because Elisha is a prophet completely devoted to God, his prayer for them will be granted!  Jesus speaks to his apostles (those who are sent) about setting within themselves the priority of loving and serving God above all.  Because God is generous and kind, even small acts of charity done to others out of reverence for God will be rewarded with a blessing.

We live with an inner tension in heart and mind between things of heaven and things of earth.  It is important to remember that these are not mutually exclusive.  St. Paul said that we must make use of the things of this world yet not let ourselves be so engrossed in them that we become solely focused on them.  Juxtaposed to that understanding we hear St. Teresa of Avila’s comment “don’t be so heavenly that you’re no earthly good.”

Jesus reminds us to maintain our balance and make God our top priority.  As we can see with Elisha, God provides for those who devote themselves to serving him completely in surprising ways.  Those who are generous toward God’s servants with their earthly wealth will receive surprising blessings too!

One thing stands out: God cannot be outdone in generosity or in surprises!  Is there a way that you can use something of what you have to return-gift God?  Blessings be yours always! +++  Fr. Peter

Imitate Jesus In Hardships

Peace be with you!

The readings this weekend remind us that every single person will experience adversity in life.  Those who devote themselves to serving God are not exempt from the challenges and struggles that come in life either.  In fact, they can expect to meet great opposition!  So what’s the use?  Why should someone choose to follow Christ and have a more difficult path than to let go and serve themselves?  Simple.  Followers of Jesus have a source of hope in their faith that God is aware of their hardship and their virtue will be met with an eternal reward!  AND, it is precisely in the experience of struggle that disciples find an intimate companionship with Jesus when they give their best effort in imitation of him!

Difficulties and challenges we all accept as a matter of course in life but what do we do when we are treated with insolent disrespect and/or hostility from bullies or even mortal enemies?

Jeremiah gives us a good insight of how we are to behave and where we can go psychologically, emotionally and spiritually when we have that experience.  After identifying the actions of his malefactors, Jeremiah uses his faith and turns to God in hope!  He says: “But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.”

The Psalmist in Psalm 69 (probably David) identifies himself as a humble servant who loves God above all things and does not stoop to retribution, cursing or hatred but entrusts everything to God believing that God will come to his aid.  In Mathew’s Gospel Jesus teaches us divine wisdom, which is radically different than natural inclinations or the “world view.”  Jesus says, don’t be afraid.  “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”  Jesus reminds us that the truth will come to light in the end and justice will be done; it isn’t about paybacks.

The message we are given can guide us to peace and reconciliation in our nation—if we all listen to it.  We can put these principles to use in our personal lives through what we say and do. God bless and protect you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Become What You Receive!

Peace to you!

This weekend the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  As the Church teaches us, we know that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life.  Echoes of the desert experience of our ancestors from the Book of Exodus remind us that God is ever faithful in love and care for his people through Covenant relationship.  Today, we have a much deeper knowledge and experience of God’s love and care for us in the Eucharist because it is the real and true presence of Christ that far surpasses the Manna of the desert which prefigured the Eucharist.  Jesus established the celebration of the Eucharist as the New and Eternal Covenant.

Many Catholics, when they hear the words “Body and Blood of Christ,” visualize in their minds the consecrated Host and chalice at Mass.  We remember (anamnesis: Greek) when Jesus instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood with his disciples and we enter more deeply into the New and Everlasting Covenant in Christ and the whole Christian family each time we celebrate it.  St. Paul reminds of this when he tells us that “we, though many, are one body.”  For us, Christ’s sacrifice and gift of the Eucharist is not only an event at Mass; it is not only the real presence of God hidden in the gifts of bread and wine, it is also a living relationship that each one of us has with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and with each other.  The Eucharist brings us together as the Body of Christ to be the real and true sign of God’s presence in the world.  As we grow in our faith journey, we realize ever more deeply that the Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist.  This is a living reality that defies definition because it is a divine mystery.  But we are caught up in it, we share in the very life of the Holy Trinity!  Imagine what our Catholic family could be like if we were always consciously aware that each person is a living Host, a tabernacle of the real and true presence of God.  Therese of Lieseux came to realize that she was a small Host given for the world in love.  In one of the hymns that we sing at Mass, the words of a prayer of St. Augustine are quoted: “eating your body, drinking your blood, we become what we receive.”  I hope and pray that I continue to grow in recognition of the love and goodness of God in the Eucharist and, like Therese, that I can live more perfectly the Eucharist in relation with other people.  God’s blessings to you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Anointed By The Spirit

Peace and grace to you!

This weekend the Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity.  It seems fitting that this feast should follow Pentecost because Jesus frequently referred to the Father before and after his death.  Then following his death and resurrection, he promised that the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, would come upon them and remain with the community.  The mighty wind signaled the presence and action of the Spirit among the disciples at Pentecost.  So at this point of revelation, God is understood as three distinct persons but of one divine nature: Father as Origin and Source of All that is; Son as Word of God, Savior and Redeemer; Spirit as the Animator, Indwelling Love and Guiding Light of God’s people, thus comes the Christian knowledge of God as the Holy Trinity.  The Holy Trinity always defies our complete understanding but there are a couple of things that are very clear.  God is completely relational, which is to say that God is an eternal spring of interested and active love!  And God is completely in love with each one of us, personally!  Jesus came as a human being to restore the relationship between human beings and God.  Jesus expressed himself as God by being entirely loving and merciful during his life and ministry.  He showed us this love by healing us, embracing suffering and death to expiate us from sin.  Now we have the presence of the Holy Spirit nourishing us with the Word and the Eucharist, guiding us in right faith and inspiring us to continue the work of Jesus in the world.  We have been anointed by the Holy Spirit to act in God’s name in the world because we share in his divine life—what an amazing gift!  One of the greatest things to contemplate is that you and I and all the baptized receive the Holy Spirit inside of us, working within us!  We are sharers in the divine life of the Trinity!

This week the disciples receive a commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”  This great commission is yours and mine and we do it when we put our faith in action and trust Jesus’ words “behold, I am with you always!”  May God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter