Dare To Approach Jesus!

Peace be with you all!

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, a theologian and spiritual writer, described a state of being that is natural to the human person in one of his articles.  “At the center of our lives there is an innate tension.  On the one hand, something in us wants to be different, to stand out, be separate and show itself to be unique and independent.  We have an equally strong, almost contradictory impulse that yearns for unity, community, family and intimacy, connection, solidarity and oneness with others and the world.”

In the Gospel stories, we see the people who stand out as those who approach Jesus in a state of humble, vulnerability and faith with a deep need for another person’s help.  The crowd represents those who are not seeking God at that level.  The woman with the hemorrhage is a great image for the socially ostracized and the one who feels unclean or unworthy within, or the person who feels like a persistent slow leak is draining them of life and hope.  It could be from some hurt from the past that no ordinary doctor or medication can heal.  It could be an addiction.  Jairus, a competent and upper-class individual, who falls to his knees before Jesus offers an image of what it is to be overwhelmed with worry, fear, helplessness and desperation.  Jesus’ response to those who approach him in complete sincerity is the same: the fountain of his Merciful Heart pours forth a grace of healing and deliverance, and in the little girl’s case, the grace of final salvation.

As baptized Christians, we have to make an effort to overcome our desire for independence in order to approach Jesus in the same way as the woman with the hemorrhage and Jairus.  Frequently, it is only through difficult events and situations that we become aware of our deep need for the help of God and others.  Sometimes the process takes years but it doesn’t have to.  There are many stories of those who came to the point when they called to God from the depths of their heart and soul.   They always remember God’s loving response.  There is nothing like it.  They will never forget it.  Do you need God’s help?  Do you want to be part of something far greater than your own personal reality?  Make a prayer of surrendering your life to God and enter the joy-filled communion of the Body of Christ.  May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Trust Jesus In Challenges!

Peace and Grace to you!

Our faith tradition is always an amazing treasure!  The readings this weekend capture a representative diversity of situations and sentiments for daily living.

Job has been trying to make sense out of the tragic misfortunes that happened in his life and ultimately concluded that God had not treated him fairly even though he himself had been just and faithful to God.  Job feels confused and lost.  It is as if a great and terrible hurricane destroyed all that he enjoyed and left him desolate and disoriented.  In response to Job’s confusion and complaint, God speaks and reminds Job of who He is.

In the Gospel we have five elements to illustrate lessons for us in daily living: the boat, the sea, the disciples, the storm and Jesus.  The boat is a frequent object and symbol in Mark’s Gospel.  It is a small place where Jesus is very close with the disciples and away from the crowds.  It also serves as an image of the Church.  The boat was a means of transportation by which Jesus and the disciples journeyed together to bring the message of salvation to the world around them.  The sea represents the forces of nature, mystery, and when aroused, it represents chaos and the abode of the dead.  The storm in classical literature is always related to the human experience of confusion, passion, disorientation, change, loss and sentiments of fear and powerlessness.  The disciples are those who are close to Jesus and journey with him in a special way to bring the Gospel to other people in different cultures and towns than their own.  This represents ALL the people of the Church.  At times, there are challenges and seemingly insurmountable forces and obstacles in the way.  Just as for the disciples in the story, there can occur in daily living the whole gamut of thoughts and emotions that are not rooted in the peace of God: a sense of peril, jealousy, anger, resentment and even fear of harm or loss of life.  In times such as these, we have to use our faith and call out to God who spoke to Job from the midst of the storm!  It is the same voice, Jesus, who rose in the midst of the disciples’ peril and spoke to the sea.  The sea and all forces of nature obey his voice– just as the chaos did in the beginning—all our fears and passions too are subject to his power to save.  Have confidence in Jesus for he is near and will respond to all your needs!  May God bless and save you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Spreading The Gospel

Peace and grace to you all!

In the June/July 2007 issue of the Catholic Extension Magazine a news item was mentioned that demonstrates part of the Gospel message this weekend: from small things, big things one day come.  On June 16, 1907, the Catholic Extension Society dedicated its first railway chapel car, the St. Anthony, to bring Mass and the sacraments to churchless areas on the frontier in America.  Two more chapel cars were built later on – the St. Peter and the St. Paul.  Many churches sprung up throughout the country after visits by these churches on wheels.  One Church was St. Catherine of Sienna in Mill City, Oregon.  There was a sizeable Catholic population in the area and many people came from nearby Jordan, who were mostly German Catholics, to see the chapel car and hear the Gospel and have the sacraments.  Jordan became the site of the first Trappist Monastery in Oregon and the foundation site of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon whose Mother House is now located at Murray Blvd. and the Tualatin Valley Highway in Beaverton.  I am friends with two of the Sisters, Sr. Michael and Sr. Krista, and I occasionally get to visit them!

This kind of story from our local area reminds us that first impressions and humble beginnings can frequently grow to greater and lasting realities.  As people entrusted with the mission to advance the Gospel, one of the most important things to remember is that first impressions are important!  Many Catholics feel uneasy or afraid when it comes to talking about their faith with non-Catholic people.  Why is that?  We have a lot to be proud of and so much to share with others!  A couple of points that are important to remember about faith traditions: living your faith in the day to day relationship with God is a prerequisite for talking about it.  An important question you might ask yourself each day is “how is my faith important to me right now?”  Of equal importance is to never criticize or put down another person no matter their belief.  Also it’s never a matter of who is right or wrong.  As Catholics, we believe in giving dignity and respect to every person—it’s a debt we owe by love.  Reading Scripture, articles or books about Saints or the Catholic Church can help you feel more comfortable, more knowledgeable and more at ease when faith comes up as a topic for discussion but the most important element of all is the personal relationship of love we have in Jesus!   God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Corpus Christi

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: it’s a 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.”  May we continue to grow in recognition of the love and goodness of God in the Eucharist and, like Therese, that we can live more perfectly the Eucharist in relation with other people.  God’s blessings to you always! +++ Fr. Peter