In today’s Gospel Jesus is speaking from the same place He was for the Last Supper. In this passage Jesus is giving us His last will and testament. What is He going to leave to His followers? His love. That love includes not only Himself, but the Father and Holy Spirit. He fulfills His Last Supper promise: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” (John 14: 15-16) Jesus did die on the cross, but He did not leave us. As we see in His words He will come and dwell within us and the Father will come with Him. A few verses later Jesus promises to send us the Holy Spirit. Our inheritance from Him is the fullness of the life of God. We began that life the moment we were baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (We remind ourselves of this treasure every time we bless ourselves in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.)
When you think about it, those we love do dwell within us. They are an intimate and intricate part of who we are. They are always in our hearts that are filled with love for them expressed in our concern, goodness, gratitude, humility, sacrifices, mercy, and generosity. In this Gospel passage Jesus expressed what was going to happen when He died and rose from the dead. Our inheritance from Him is the gift of Himself, the Father, and Holy Spirit dwelling within us. How does this inheritance affect our lives? The more we “use” our inheritance from Jesus, the more we recognize the gift of peace that He also promises in today’s Gospel: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” This is the peace we long for as individuals, families, communities, nations, and worldwide. Human efforts have helped us to defeat the countless powers that seek to separate us from God and one another (just ask a faith-filled veteran). Yet still, in all too many places around the world, there is violence, injustice, destruction and the abuse and taking of human life.
So, what is this peace Jesus is leaving us? It is the peace that comes from truly believing that He knows us as we are at each moment of our lives and is with us in all we say, do and think each day. This thought is expressed so clearly at the beginning of each of the four Eucharistic Prayers (for Various Occasions): “You are indeed Holy and to be glorified, O God, Who love the human race and Who always walk with us on the journey of life. Blessed indeed is Your Son, present in our midst when we are gathered by His Love, and when, as once for the disciples, so now for us, He opens the Scriptures and breaks the bread.” Obviously we need to accept His invitation to be renewed by our inheritance from Him through our heartfelt participation in the Mass every week. Jesus never tires of inviting us to open our eyes to His Love for us and His Presence to us. It is Jesus and our inheritance from Him, which is Jesus Himself, that lifts us beyond the confusion, challenges, and obstacles we face as individuals, families, communities, and nations. Only a nation under God can be one nation. It takes God to not only take away the confusion…but also to enlighten us with the truth of who we truly are and what we are ultimately capable of in the best sense possible.
This weekend we celebrate the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings this weekend focus on trusting in God. In the First Reading, the Prophet Isaiah speaks of comfort to the Jewish people who were in exile in Babylon. In the Second Reading, Paul tells the Corinthian community to not make any judgment before the appointed time. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds us that we cannot serve two masters. He tells us not to worry about tomorrow, to live today in the present and be appreciative with all that we have. Jesus calls us to discipleship to get our priorities in order. What are things in life that distract us from having a relationship with the Lord? Jesus reminds us that we are God’s precious children. We must put his future in the hands of God and pray only for the modest needs of today. As we prepare to start the season of Lent, let us Let Go, and Let God!
As Lent of 2017 is becoming a reality in our lives (Ash Wednesday, March 1st)…I would like to take this opportunity to ask you to consider spending one hour each week during Lent to visit Our Lord in the church. Trusting in the Sacred Heart of Jesus…many conversions, healings, and prayers-answered have been granted to those who invest their time with our Lord Jesus.
If you are in need of a positive change in your life and heart, then go to the Sacred Heart of Jesus beating for us under the veil of the Bread from Heaven! Come and Adore Him!
Extraordinary gift of Indulgence. Many have heard that Pope Francis is making this Year of Mercy a time of reconciliation. Individuals who have been away from the Church (for whatever reason), have the opportunity to have the two meet in a spirit of harmony, settlement and reconciliation. This year allows priests and local authorities to have the ability to act for the good of the souls who find resolution “cutting through” preserved red tape and formalities.
The Year of Indulgence is kind of like the character played by Lucille Ball (if I remember correctly), who was filling out an employment application. When she came to the line marked “age” she hesitated for a long time. Finally, the personnel manager leaned across his desk and whispered to her, “The longer you wait, the worse it gets.” Before the opportunities run out…just do it!
Isn’t it strange and rather sad that most of us do not seriously consider a reform in life and turning our backs on our sins until our backs are against the wall? The alcoholic usually will not go to AA and take the first step toward change until his or her spouse has left them or is very close to it, or perhaps they have been fired or close to it. Some people will not stop going too far on financial statements until they think that this is the year they might have an IRS audit. I suppose this is because most of us are like water and like to seek the path of least resistance.
Sin is the great liar of life. It tells us it is easier to follow it as a path than righteousness (at least while we are sinning). Unfortunately, the sins we sow begin to reap consequences and draw us deeper and deeper into bondage until the choice is clear – either repent and change or die in one way or another. I always think of the two men who were adrift in an open boat and it looked bad for them. Finally, one of them, frightened, began to pray: “Oh Lord, I’ve broken most of the Commandments. I’ve got some pretty bad habits—I drink a lot, I curse most of the time, I steal things from work, I treat people like dirt. But if my life is spared now I promise you that I will change, that I will never again curse, that I will never again steal, that I…” Then, suddenly, his friend cried out to him: “Wait a second, Joe. Don’t go too far. I think I see another ship coming.”
This Year of Mercy also gives the faith the traditional opportunity for Plenary / Partial Indulgence for The Year of Mercy (December 8, 2015 – November 20, 2016).
Those who make a pilgrimage to and pass through the Holy Door/Door of Mercy at…
- Peter’s Basilica in Rome or any of the other Papal Basilicas in Rome;
- Any Shrine or Jubilee Church in which the Door of Mercy is open; or
- The Holy door in every Cathedral or church designated by Bishop Swain.
(The designated pilgrim churches in the diocese will be given in a future bulletin.)
(When it comes to Plenary Indulgences – the requirements of confession, Communion, prayer for the Pope and freedom from all attachment to sin are required…more on this later as well.)
Some months ago I was at the Treasure Hut in Hoven. As I was looking around, I heard a heated discussion with a mother and her children about going to a party (or concert or something). She told them they couldn’t go…telling her children: “Whenever you go into bad places, you leave your Guardian Angel at the door!” Tell you the truth, I had never heard that expression before then. And, you know, it is a good theology thought. It was supposed to make them think twice about going someplace bad because they’d be going alone. But…that’s not really the case…our Guardian Angels never leave us.
It’s just that putting ourselves in the near occasion of sin makes it harder for us to hear them!
Our loving God wants very much for us to find our way Home to Heaven, which is why, from infancy to death; He has wrapped every human person in the watchful care and the powerful protection of a Guardian Angel.
In the Second Book of the Bible (Exodus), God says, “See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared.” That place of course is Heaven, our home with God forever.
The mother at the Treasure Hut alludes well to what Matthew states: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”
Once we realize that we have such a wonderful gift as our personal Guardian Angel, who is committed to our safe arrival in Heaven, we should be moved to listen to their promptings.
Our Guardian Angels are always with us:
- they work to keep us on the right path;
- they help us to rise whenever we fall into sin;
- they encourage us to grow in holiness;
- they assist us in dangerous situations and most importantly;
- they act as intermediaries in offering our prayers & good works to God.
Friday, (October 2nd) we celebrated the Feast of the Guardian Angels. It’s our annual reminder for us to maintain a daily relationship with our Guardian Angel. That could be as simple as reciting the Guardian Angel prayer that we learned as a child. Remember this, kneeling at your bedside:
“Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light, to guard, to rule and guide. Amen!”
Never think we are too big to need the care and support of our Angelic Guides. Pray regularly to our Guardian Angels, thanking them for their constant care and asking for their powerful help and protection.