Jun 29, 2022

Bishop Barron on Saints Peter and Paul

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul


O, God, who on the Solemnity of 

the Apostles Peter and Paul

give us the noble and holy joy of this day,

grant, we pray, that your Church

may in all things follow the teaching

of those through whom she received 

the beginnings of right religion.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 

who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

God, for ever and ever

Amen.

(Collect of Mass)

Jun 25, 2022

13th Sunday: The determined mission of Christ

 


"I will follow you wherever you go"

Luke 9: 51-62

The Word: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062622.cfm


If you can take yourself back to your earlier days of education, the grade school years, try to remember for a moment how many reasons you gave that your grades were not up to par. 

“The dog ate my homework!” I never used that one because I thought it was a real stretch knowing what our dog would eat.  “I have a cold and just don’t feel good today, can I stay home from school?” I actually tried that once and my mother made me spend the entire day in bed – I never used that one again.  “I forgot my books at school and lost the homework assignment.”  Yeah, right!  Excuses, excuses; none of these are reasons.  The real reason is that I’m just not trying hard enough and I know I can do better but lack the will to do it.  That same principle can be applied anywhere in our lives.  I’m not too busy to pray or come to Church I just have the wrong priorities and frankly, I’m just lazy! Everyone is busy with the things of life so it’s a matter of choosing to participate or not. Actual reasons may be obvious but excuses are plentiful.

I think among the most timely statements Jesus made is the comment by Luke in the Gospel today.  Jesus was “. . . resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem . . .” That powerful emphasis by Luke reveals that Jesus saw his mission as one that regardless of opposition needed to be carried out.  He was on this singular journey and nothing would stop him even as he and his disciples traveled through enemy territory – Samaria. Our Lord knew that in Jerusalem he would meet opposition that would lead to his own death and the fulfillment of his Father’s will in the resurrection. He was determined to fulfill that mission of ultimate sacrifice and love for humanity.

However, the response of the disciples James and John to the Samaritans gesture of their closed door policy towards Jesus was startling – “Should we call down fire from heaven to consume them?”  That visceral desire for vengeance was met by Jesus with a strong rebuke that I imagine was much more unbendable than a mere slap on the hand. It may well be good for all of us to recognize the signs of the times we live in right now.  In light of the Supreme Court decision last Friday how many people have engaged in tribal warfare as a response – wanting to call down fire from heaven on the other side?  Such division and vengeance have no place in the Christian message and Jesus reinforces that this Sunday. We are called to a single minded discipleship and to be resolute as Jesus was in our journey with him. Yet, have you found yourself a member of an opposing tribe?

In other words, we are called to leave behind all other attachments and distractions, then follow in the way Jesus shows us – to carry out and live his mission in the world today whether we be married, single, ordained or religious. So, the Lord can be demanding in his requirements and we see those who took his invitation literally:  St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Calcutta among the most well-known saintly examples. While we may not find ourselves in their stature the invitation of discipleship is the same for all of us.

Our Lord hears many excuses from those he invites to follow him:  “I have to bury my Father first.” Well we don’t know if his Father is dead or alive.  Customarily, the eldest son lived with his parents, managed their property and saw to the details of their final days and burial. So, that loss of his Father might be years away and he is explaining his responsibility to carry through as the oldest Jewish son. It may be a justifiable reason but Jesus explains that his call has an immediacy about it. It is urgent to share in Christ’s mission – now.

“First, let me say goodbye to my family.” Well, where is his family and what does “goodbye” mean?  A big going away party that might take several days?  How long before the invitations go out for that goodbye party?  The stress of Jesus is again on the direct response not on waiting till a more convenient moment. We do love our personal convenience don’t we?

“I’ll follow you wherever you go.” Jesus responds that I have no fixed home or place but must carry on from town to town.  One wonders what the response of this eager disciple to be might have been.  “Oh, well let me reconsider this.”  Hmmm

So, let’s see: a daily cross and a renunciation of all other attachments, including familial relationships to a certain degree, to follow him.  I don’t know about you but on the surface I don’t find that particularly attractive at times.  In fact, it may sound a bit over- the – top and certainly no guarantee of success. It’s somewhat insecure with no promise of fame, fortune or popularity; maybe for Jesus but for me too? Yet, on a deeper level, which is where we are always called to go with Jesus’ teaching, there is something more convincing. What would that be?

For one, stop the tribal warfare!  No more mission to destroy the other side that will come back and ultimately destroy us. The only side or “tribe” we should be on is that of Christ himself. So, do we live our Christian lives and our rich Catholic traditions in a way that sees them as treasures above all else or is that just another thing we do? Do we live our life using excuses as reasons?  Jesus’ single minded commitment to his mission is the model and road we should always stay on as we live our Christian lives. That’s quite a “price” to pay in a world that says you can have it all because we must choose between

Paul in our second reading from Galatians I think refers to the daily battle we all face: that between the tensions of spirit and flesh; between the material world we live in with all of it beauty and advantages, its challenges and rewards and the world of the spirit, which calls us to higher values that demand sacrifice and overcoming our own tendency to take the easy way or to satisfy ourselves through some form of instant pleasure. To live and to “serve one another through love” rather than argument and revenge is what Christ calls us to as we journey to our Jerusalem. And this great value is our contribution to the divided and dark warfare we see around us.  It is time for healing and for choosing the sacred dignity of each human person.

As we gather to break open the sacred Word of God and to break bread with each other, we welcome Christ among us and once again renew our promise of discipleship, no matter how much it cost – priceless. So, no more excuses only reasons why we follow the Lord.

 ---------------------------------------

O God, who through the grace of adoption

chose us to be children of light, 

grant, we pray,

that we may not be wrapped in the 

darkness of error

but always be seen to stand in the 

bright light of truth. 

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 

who lives and reigns with you in the 

unity of the Holy Spirit,

God, for ever and ever. 

(Collect of Mass)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Jun 24, 2022

Life is a sacred treasure

For many who have for the last 50 years been diligent in work, prayer, and compassion to reach out to those women who may be agonizing over the struggle between abortion and bringing a child to full birth the historic decision by the United States Supreme Court this morning is a day of great thanksgiving.  To others this day holds the opposite feeling.  Wherever we may stand personally on this and there is good will on both sides I think this is a time for constructive dialogue and personal conversion.  

We need to put down the shouts, the protests, the rage and unreasonable physical threats.  But the U.S. right now seems to be at somewhat of a crossroads both politically and socially. It is a time for all of us to self-reflect and to stand up and be counted as to our Catholic faith. 

I am of like mind with others that such violence, protest and division in response to the Courts valid opinion holds demonic involvement.  There are many complicated social causes for the last 50 years of course but the level of rage and vengeance we see both in protest, in the press and in political leaders reveals an even darker involvement. 

The evil one will infiltrate, influence and stir up hatred and separation everywhere he can. He will play upon emotions; he will build upon anger and resentment and increase it all the more in order to carry out his plan.  God is about life and unity while the devil is about division and destruction of anything that God wills.  

It was said that during an exorcism the exorcist asked the demon who he feared the most.  He said in addition to Christ he feared both the Virgin Mary and St. Pope John Paul II.  The exorcist asked why Pope John Paul.  The demon responded because of the now very successful World Youth Days around the world which the Pope had initiated calling young people of the world to gather for the renewal of their Catholic faith. The demon stated it spoiled their plans to turn all youth away from the Lord. So, if not the youth, why not the more vulnerable unborn child? Whether apocryphal or not it gives one pause.  

I think we can say that now there will be far fewer abortions or at least it seems possible.  He is angry, enraged really, and is lashing back.  The destruction of an unborn child is music to his dark ears so let's pray that some of that symphony will come to an end and God's most sacred creation will flourish all the more. Let's pray that all human life in its most fragile forms will be held all the more with great dignity and protection.   

Well, all of this is cause for reflection as well as where we stand both religiously and politically at this time. Let us all pray that we will hear the voice of the Shepherd inviting us to conversion and to follow his voice courageously.  

Below is a link from the American Catholic Bishops on their official statement: 

https://www.usccb.org/news/2022/usccb-statement-us-supreme-court-ruling-dobbs-v-jackson