Thank you for your faith and joy. I did not become a priest for myself. So thank you for letting me be your spiritual father. Again, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas, please feel free to share them with me. Isaiah and Taylor continue to come up with cool ideas for the youth. It looks like they want to involve the parents and other adults more so look for details on that. God is God. We, especially me, can never learn all there is to know about God. We never graduate from religious education. There is always more to know and fall in love with when it comes to our Creator and Savior.
In this weekend’s Gospel, James and John, ask Jesus if they can sit at His right and left when Jesus takes the throne of His Kingdom. Jesus tells them they do not know what they are asking. He then asks if they can drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which Jesus is baptized. Jesus is obviously referring to His suffering in His passion and death on the Cross. Being a disciple of Jesus involves suffering and sacrifice. In a fallen world, in world where evil exists, on this side of heaven, love always requires sacrifice. You don’t believe me? Ask any married couple. Love requires sacrifice. Often it requires pain and suffering. Ask any parent. Children don’t always do what we want them to, but we love them anyways. But suffering is not meaningless. Our Catholic faith says suffering can be redemptive. God, in His active will, does not will pain and suffering. God, in His permissive will, allows evil, pain, and suffering because of our free will, because we sometimes freely choose to do evil. The evil we do can affect not just ourselves, but others. God, in His permissive will, allows evil to happen because He is going to bring about a greater good. Jesus tells James and John that they are going to have to suffer for Jesus’ Kingdom. By their suffering and death, the Church, the Kingdom of God, will grow in numbers. God has the amazing ability to bring a greater good out of evil. Out of His own suffering and death, Jesus brought about our salvation. Because of Jesus, we can have the possibility of eternal life in heaven.
Take time today and thank Jesus for His great gift of our salvation.
Peace of Christ,
How are things going? On the weeks we have faith formation, between the early session with the younger kids and later session with the older kids, we are having a meal again this year. So the meal begins about 5:15 PM. Anyone from the Tri-parish community is welcome to come. It is so great to see all the people there, especially the young families. So come join us, even if you don’t have kids in the faith formation program.
We have another tough Gospel reading today. Jesus says it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus follows this up by saying, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.” As I have said before, I think the reason for this is because rich people (I’m including myself) believe they are materially self-sufficient so it is easy to think we are spiritually self-sufficient. Whereas, poor people are materially dependent so it is easy for them to grasp that they are spiritually dependent on God. The truth is we cannot do anything without God; even breathe. Jesus says in John 15:5, “…without me you can do nothing.” If God ceased to think about us and ceased loving us, we would disappear from existence. We literally cannot do anything without God. With the grace of God, we can humbly recognize this. It is this supernatural humility that Jesus is referring to when He says that for God it is not impossible for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. We who live in one of wealthiest nations in the world, may we pray for this supernatural grace and humility so that we can one day rejoice with the saints and God in heaven.
Thank you for all the ways you bless my life,
It is fall. Sort of. We have had some amazing weather lately. I have gotten a few rounds of golf in. However, the tree are changing and for a couple of days, there was a bite to the air. What a glorious time of the year! Congratulations to a couple of our kids for being on the Homecoming Court. Isaiah, Taylor, and I took in the coronation ceremony this past Thursday.
Today’s reading are tough, very tough for some. Divorce is a hard subject to talk about these days. So many of us know people who have been divorced. Maybe you have been divorced. Last night, I was teaching class. Someone asked a question something along these lines, “How do we make sense of the Church’s ideal teachings and the reality of the world we live in?” What a great question! It is true. The Church does hold up an ideal for us to strive for. God is perfect. We should strive for perfection in all we do. However, there is a difference between striving and demanding. It is good to strive for perfection, but it is not good to demand perfection from ourselves or from others. That is why in a fallen world, where we and others sin, God offers us mercy. Before I was ordained a priest I thought the Sacrament of Confession was first about confessing my sins. It is that, but as priest, I have come to realize that the Sacrament of Confession is first about receiving God mercy and forgiveness. And when we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we don’t have to doubt that we have been forgiven, that we have received God’s mercy. Why? Because we can hear the words of Christ spoken through the priest, “And I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We can trust and lean into these words spoken to us and trust that God has forgiven us, that God has extended His mercy to us.
God puts forth in Genesis and Jesus reiterates in the Gospel that marriage is until death do they part; that God has joined a man and woman to each other for the rest of their lives. Married couples become one flesh in so many ways: physically, spiritually, financially, and in raising a family. The nuclear family is harder and harder to find these days. But if we are honest with ourselves, we would acknowledge that the nuclear family is the best environment for our kids. Study after study proves this point. This week we pray extra hard for our families.
Peace of Christ,
It is so much fun seeing the church grounds full of youth at faith formation night. Yes, the youth are the future of the parishes, but they are also the present of the parishes. Never use kids as an excuse not to come to Mass. I know it is hard. I know it is embarrassing, but I would rather have families at Mass and have chaos than not to have the kids there at Mass. As I have said many times before, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus even if you can’t hear me. Church is not a place for saints, but for sinners trying to become saints. Church is not a place for well-behaved kids, but for any kids trying to become well-behaved kids. As fallen human beings, as sinners trying to become saints, our lives, no matter what our age is, is messy. I have been known to tell parents not to expect to get anything out of Mass for the first five years. It is just important to be there at Mass. The presence of young families are the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that the Church will continue until the end of time.
The “worst” is not taking kids to church and letting them decide for themselves when they “are old enough.” You cannot choose something you don’t know exists, or at least, know much about. Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Parents promise at the child’s baptism to raise the child in the faith. Bringing children to Mass is part of raising them in the faith. Missing Sunday (or Saturday evening) Mass is a mortal sin. Letting them choose to sleep in, go hunting, participate in a sports tournament instead of going to Sunday (or Saturday) Mass shows them that other things are more important than God. I fail all the time to put God first in my life. I understand it is hard, but we must do our best to show our young people that God is our first priority.
Our young people need Christ. They need to be encouraged to strive for holiness, to put God first in their lives. May we be strong enough to give them that encouragement.