Peace and grace to you!
The readings this weekend lead us to reflect on our life of prayer with the Lord. In the first reading we get an insider’s view of Solomon’s heart and deepest desires as he prays to God. Solomon was praised for his wisdom during his lifetime and through the centuries so we know that God granted his desire. When we read his prayer, we understand why – he isn’t asking for something selfish. Solomon understands that he needs God’s help more than anything else to serve as a leader and so he asks for help. St. Paul’s wisdom is shown through his spiritual insight “that all things work for the good of those who love God.” No matter what it is: trial or ease, hunger or feast, persecution or peace, sickness or health, wealth or poverty, in all these things the one who loves God grows closer to him. In the Gospel, Jesus explains that the kingdom of heaven is the greatest wealth and treasure that anyone could ever have. Jesus is telling us that there are a lot of things in the world that demand our attention and capture our interest but the most important and lasting thing of all consists in our lively personal relationship with God.
One of the principal ways that we experience God’s abiding presence within us is through prayer. Like you, I have had to work very hard to develop a discipline and routine of prayer. Prayer is easy when there is the sweetness of spiritual consolation. But prayer is much more difficult during the arid periods when we are too busy or when we don’t feel like it or when we don’t think that God cares or hears us, or we’re too tired, or whatever. Through all these changing emotional climates, thoughts and conditions, prayer must continue even if it seems of no use or accomplishment. Our faithful practice of prayer leads us into remembering that God is always present and actively assisting us! There are many types of prayers and devotions that people feel drawn to. The Rosary, The Liturgy of the Hours, periodicals like the Magnificat or Give us this Day. Lectio Divina is spending quality time in God’s Word each day and the weekday Mass readings are always a rich source of spiritual nourishment. Choose what works for you. God bless you always! +++ Fr Peter
May the grace of Christ console your hearts!
This weekend we are reminded of our need to pray through the many challenges that confront us in life. Although God is always there to help us through them, we do not always remember or recognize God’s presence and nearness to us while we are in the midst of difficulties.
Elijah has had to face Jezebel and all the priests of Baal who oppose the one true God. As God’s prophet, Elijah was familiar with opposition and difficulty but he had reached a point of loneliness and weariness that were so overwhelming that he asked God to end his life. While he was lying on his mat waiting for death to come, an angel was sent to stir him to eat and then journey to the mountain to where God would speak to him. As you already know, “going to the mountain” is a literary image used to convey that Elijah’s journey was spiritual which includes prayer. In the midst of an overwhelming storm and violent natural forces, Elijah finds God’s presence with him in the still, small voice: in the quiet of prayer.
In the Gospel scene Jesus sends the disciples out on their own. The wind and sea against them indicates that they are experiencing difficulties and challenges in their efforts to be disciples. Meanwhile, Jesus takes time to pray and get face to face time with God: yes Jesus needed to pray! Jesus walks across the water showing that union with God lifts us above torments and struggles. As He draws near them, he is aware of their struggles. Jesus extends to Peter the power to “walk on the water,” to rise above the chaos and confusion of the challenges but Peter loses his focus on Jesus and succumbs to sinking into human fear. But, when Peter calls in need, Jesus saves him and raises him up! Isn’t it amazing?
Elijah was saved by his cloak, a piece of cloth signifying his devotion to God and God’s providence, shelter and protection for him. But we have something greater than Elijah had: we have the name of Jesus! We do not need anything but Jesus’ name for our salvation and when we call to him, he is with us immediately! So when storms and tempests, challenges and difficulties arise in our lives, we call on the one who is always near and has power to save! God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter
Peace and grace to all!
This weekend we hear what is popularly referred to as the Parable of the Sower. When we hear Jesus’ parables, he gives us opportunities to view things from different perspectives. If we were to focus only on the Sower, we would overlook some of the other important components included in the story like the seed itself or the soil and its different qualities as well as the thorns and the birds. We know that the seed is representative of the Word of God because that’s how Jesus describes it. The Parable of the Seed might be a better title for the story than Parable of the Sower. Each time I hear the first reading and the declaration that God’s Word shall accomplish what it was intended for, I remember what Mother Cabrini once said to her Sisters: “you too are the Word of God, spoken only once, strive to accomplish what God wills in your life and you will not return to the Father empty.” I shouldn’t put quotations around that phrase because I know it isn’t verbatim but I think it fairly represents Mother Cabrini’s mind on the matter.
I recognize her statement as a great assertion of faith. One dimension that Mother Cabrini’s statement adds to the parable is the fact that each one of us comes forth from God as a type of seed. And as a seed, each one of us needs certain conditions from the environment to nurture us and help us become what God desires for us. Not everyone has the same chances in life. Some of us have rough and rocky family conditions while some of us have smooth and balanced situations. Some of us have uphill challenges arising from physical or medical conditions due to genetics or by accident. Whether we live on the slope or on the plain, in the gravel or the rich bottom land, one thing is certain: we all need help from each other and from God. That’s why Jesus came!
This summer we will have Vacation Bible School! I love having our children here. Kids are fun to watch and interact with! But VBS is even more special because they learn about God and the teachers and helpers sow the seeds of faith and nourish it by being together while doing songs and activities. It’s times like this when I think about the incomparable value of faith and grace from God in the lives of our young people. They are going out into the world as seeds sown by the community of St. Edward. They will encounter all types of soil conditions and experience times of hardship and failure as well as peace and success. Through it all, the thing that they have that will never die and will always bear fruit, if they use it, is the faith they’ve been nurtured with here among us. God bless you all! +++ Fr Peter
Peace and grace to you!
I think the readings this weekend direct us to clearly identify the inner tension that all of us experience between our desire for spiritual fulfillment and the things of earth that are necessary for the body and the things of earth in general like the house or place where we live etc. Although we must make use of things of earth, our hope and primary focus is not in them. St. Paul makes the distinction between people of the Spirit and people of the flesh. St. Francis of Assissi is a great teacher when it comes to the body and the spirit. He says the body is like a mule that is constantly on the move to satisfy its appetites—it is never satisfied. It monotonously moves from one thing to another! So it is necessary for us to put a bridle and bit on the mule to control it, lest it lead a person into sin and spiritual destruction. Great imagery here—we all have the same animal appetites to deal with and we all know they need to be properly directed. They can weigh us down! But a greater burden comes when we forget to focus on God and the personal help that we have in Jesus. This weekend Jesus invites us once again to come to him and ask for help—with whatever it is we are concerned about. Nothing is to great or too small. Jesus loves! Jesus is the one who gives rest to the weary and revives the drooping in spirit. Come and rest in the open arms of the Lord’s providence and mercy. It truly is easy and light! May God continue to bless you! +++ Fr. Peter