Peace and grace to you all!

The event of the Transfiguration was for Jesus and his disciples a dazzling and affirming memory.  Most of us have had moments of glory in our lives in which we have felt blessed, affirmed and strengthened.  These memories are imprinted in us and they never fade or leave.  I remember my best friend who received the Most Valuable Player Award for his outstanding performance through a basketball tournament when we were in High School.  He was given a trophy that he still has!   Fr. Craig Boly’s mother Frances was chosen as the Rose Queen in 1939 and I know first-hand that it remained a dazzling memory for her!

There have also been moments of extreme awkwardness and discomfort due to misunderstandings, illnesses, or mistakes.  The Transfiguration provides a contrasting back-drop of dazzling beauty against deformity, horror, and ugliness for Jesus and ourselves.  For Jesus, it was being arrested amidst false accusations, gross miscarriage of justice, abuse of power, brutal beating and horrible disfigurement of his body by being crucified.  For ourselves, it reminds us of our own beauty and glory even though there are failures and struggles in life with injustices, betrayal, illnesses, or when bad things happen to us or our friends or family and we have no control.

It reminds me of the day my friend William Manfield informed me that he was dying of cancer.   The day was bright, sunny and warm while we sat on a park bench in Victoria watching ships and boats pass by in the Straight of Juan de Fuca: it was a lovely day and William still had the glow of life and love showing through him.  In the months that followed, that glow faded away as his body was disfigured by the disease and finally by death.  It is hard for us to encounter things like that but such times help us to remember what is important and how to cherish those memories.

In the Transfiguration, God gives us an image that far surpasses any earthly glory.  It shows God’s vision of the human person restored and fully alive!  That’s who Jesus is!  This directs us in faith to the object of our final hope.  Like Jesus, we know that our mortal lives are passing, but there is a resplendent, glorious, and eternal life to come!  The memories we have can help to anchor our hope in God’s faithful promises.  The knowledge and belief of Jesus’ commitment to God’s will leads to final triumph over sin and strengthens us!  It firmly sets our moral compass to follow Jesus the guiding star of our lives when darkness surrounds us.  Abraham Trusted God in the midst of extreme difficulty.  Jesus was obedient to God even when it meant losing his friends and laying down his life.  God is asking us to trust and be obedient too.  How do your memories help you love, let go and live for God?

May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

The Desert Experience

Peace and grace to you all!

As you know, the themes that run through Lent are prayer, fasting, almsgiving, forgiveness, conversion from hardness of heart to love of enemies and openness to God’s Word.  As we see in the readings this weekend, it is the openness to God’s Word and the struggle to follow it that drove Jesus into the desert.  We too are either dragged or driven by the Spirit each year to face temptation and struggle against the great idol of selfishness.  Why?  Because of our identity.  We are God’s special people!

Jesus had to wrestle against the temptations that all people experience through human nature so that human nature could be restored to harmony, peace and love with God’s will.  The desert experience of Jesus began immediately after his baptism, in which the heavens opened and the Father’s voice declared that he is the beloved Son of God.  In the face of temptation, Jesus affirms his divine Son-ship as servant of God by obeying God’s will rather than following inclinations that are basically selfish.  Jesus did not do this just for his own sake but for all of us.

In like manner, we are led by the Spirit to wrestle against our faults.  When we are tempted, we are asked to affirm our divine Son-ship as children of God.  Our hearts become afflicted and punctured when we realize that following Jesus perfectly is quite beyond our ability, no matter how hard we try.  These failures serve to help us depend more upon God and it is precisely through them that we experience God’s greatest attribute: loving mercy!  As we descend into the failure of our own pride, we paradoxically rise to a new and more abundant trust and love in Jesus who is our Healer, Life Giver and Merciful Savior.  The Paschal Mystery of Jesus (life, death and resurrection) is the pattern we live in our own life and each year we change.  We grow in greater freedom and readiness to follow God.  We discover that throughout our entire lives, we have been preparing in deeper ways for the joy of the resurrection!

May God accompany you on your journey in this holy season! +++ Fr. Peter

Jesus The Healer

Peace and grace to all!

Both the first and second readings this weekend refer to how those suffering with the effects of sin should be treated.  In the first reading, the individual with a sore is to present himself to the priest for inspection, and the priest is supposed to determine whether or not the individual is unclean.  In those days, there was a lot of fear and concern for contagious diseases and due to that, there were many declared unclean and ostracized from the community even if they didn’t have leprosy.  The people avoided them and shunned them – mostly out of fear.  This came at a time when the person afflicted needed support and assistance the most!  Imagine if you got sick and as a result, everyone rejected you.  Of course, one of the allegorical meanings of leprosy is sin, and in this case, it is a serious sin that separates someone from the life-giving presence of the community.  The leper in the story has enough courage to approach Jesus and make a request in faith.  When everyone else turned away, Jesus remained unafraid and compassionate.  That is because Jesus did not come to condemn, but to save!  Jesus came to be the bridge, the transcendence that crosses over the chasm that fear, ignorance and sin have brought into our lives.

Fear, ignorance, bigotry, hardheartedness, isolation and marginalization are realities in the lives of people today.  It includes the poor, the sick, the migrant, the addict, the prostitute, the post abortive, the abused, those of different cultures and faith traditions than our own, and those who do not yet understand the Gospel of Life.  For many, there is an inclination to be hard of heart, reject and ostracize others who have a different perspective than our own; just look at Big Tech and the mainstream media.  The challenge against such an attitude, is to not let the darkness take over our hearts and prevent us from reaching out to others.  If we separate ourselves from the Church, we separate ourselves from Jesus and we cannot bring the healing that Jesus wants to work through us.  It also requires us to be mature in our personal dispositions and faith so that we too may experience healing and grow in holiness.

God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter

Be Open To The Call!

Peace to you!

We have been reflecting the last few weeks on a kind of process through which God calls people to active discipleship.  A few weeks ago we heard that Samuel had to learn how to listen and discern God’s call in the night.  Eli helped him.  The Gospel story that day depicted Andrew and another disciple hearing John the Baptist identify Jesus as the Lamb of God.  They listened to what John said and they went after Jesus to find out about him.  The weekend after that, we heard the story of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew, James and John to leave their boats and nets to follow him and become fishers of men.

The call stories are always interesting and powerful for us because they help us focus on listening and following God in new and deeper ways.  They also remind us of the past when God has called us to move beyond our comfort zones to change our lives: to do something new.

This weekend we get a glimpse of the disciples as neophytes or beginners in active ministry with Jesus.  In the story, they are at the home of Andrew and Peter – a familiar, comfortable place for them.  Jesus heals their mother, and she moves from inaction to activity.  The whole town coming to the house for help from Jesus seems convenient for him to dispense grace from God.  In the morning when they find him away from the house at prayer, they want him to come back to the house – to what is familiar and easy, their own comfort zone.  But Jesus takes them with him to new villages and towns – a journey to discover new horizons and to have new experiences.

I like adventure and going new places.  I used to hike in the Wyoming Wind River mountain wilderness area for 20 years with my horse and dog.  Of course, it was my love for fishing that carried me beyond the familiar to new places and adventure.  Ever since I responded to the Call of the Lord my life has been at the service of the Gospel and the Lord has taken me to many new places with new experiences and horizons to serve his purpose.

Questions we might ask ourselves are: As a good steward, how am I serving God?  What response have I made to the fact that Jesus has saved me and raised me up?  When I look around, are there others who need my help?  Am I open to the call to serve others?  Do I have the courage to follow the Lord as my leader and teacher on an adventure?

May God bless you and guide you always! +++ Fr. Peter