What a week! What a winter!
The weather this past week was a little different than the weather in Belize. Belize was amazing! It was a good reminder that cultures are different. That what can be almost assumed in one culture is not even imagined in another culture. It seemed like we ate a lot of beans and rice. Some of us got a little sick of it, but I thought it was delicious. With a little habanero sauce, I could have eaten it for seven days straight. However, the human beings are human beings the world over. We all have a deep desire for love and joy. No matter where you are in the world, there are people who are givers and there are people who are takers.
This weekend we have a long and in some ways, difficult, Gospel reading. St. Luke towards the end tells us to stop judging so that we are not judged. However, Jesus made many judgments about people’s behaviors, especially the Pharisees and the scribes. Yes, Jesus is God, but St. Paul and the other Christians made plenty of judgments about the lives of other Christians and pagans. So we can judge actions, but we can’t judge intention or the state of someone’s soul. Remember, three things are necessary for a sin to occur. One, the action has to be bad. Two, one has to know it is a bad action. And three, one has to freely choose to do it anyways. One, the action, is what is public and can be seen. However, two and three are interior to the person. Only God, and maybe the person, knows if they knew it was a bad action and if they freely chose to do it anyways. In other words, we can tell if someone did a bad action or not by observing their actions. However, we don’t know if they have committed a sin or not. We cannot judge whether or not we can condemn them. We don’t know the state of their soul. We don’t know if they are bound for heaven or hell. That is between them and God. However, we are called to judge people’s actions. We are called to help our brothers and sisters in Christ to grow in holiness and virtue. Granted we need correct people’s actions with gentleness and love. I think in today’s society, the harder part is receiving constructive criticism. Pray for the grace to desire holiness and virtue enough to listen to the suggestions of others.
By the time you read this, I will be in Belize. Hopefully I will have not injured myself yet. Please pray for me and my safety. Let’s just say I am not the most handy person that ever lived. I have travelled out of the country many times, but never for a mission trip. I have done lots of mission trips within the United States, but never abroad. Please pray for me and the whole crew from the Tri-parish.
As you may have noticed, I am gone this weekend. Next weekend I will still be gone for the Saturday evening Mass, but I’ll be back for the Sunday morning Mass.
This weekend we have the call of the Apostles Peter (Simon), James, and John. Jesus takes over a fishing boat in order that He might use it to speak to the crowds. Jesus was already so popular that the crowds were too big just to stand and speak to. So He would often get in a boat so that He was a little higher up and could address a larger crowd on the shore. After speaking to the people, Jesus asks Peter to take the boat out further and put down the nets. Peter explains that they had done so all night long and caught nothing. However, Peter obeys Jesus and they catch so many fish that their nets begin to tear. They got another boat to join them and they filled the boats with so many fish, the boats were in danger of sinking. Life is always more abundant with Jesus.
After this event, Jesus tells Peter, James, and John to not be afraid. From that point on they were going to be catching people. It is not easy to share the Gospel with someone. Our society says that religion is not a subject one should speak about in public. Our society says that religion is just a matter of opinion. However, as Catholics we believe that Jesus really did live, die, and rise from the dead. Jesus really did start a Church founded on the person of Peter and his successors, the popes. We believe, we know that the Catholic Christian Church has sinful members, even sinful leaders, but still contains the fullness of truth. It is good to know the truth than to not know the truth. We believe and know that everyone will be Catholic once they die. It is not like the Buddhists go to Buddha heaven. Some Lutherans and Presbyters (and Catholics) will end up in Purgatory. Jesus tells us to not be afraid; that we are called to catch men, to invite them to a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. We believe and know that this is what is best for every single human being. We all want to be happy. Jesus is the path to happiness. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Peace of Christ,
This past week has been interesting. I spent Sunday night and Tuesday night in Mankato. MSU didn’t have classes Tuesday and Wednesday. Mapleriver hasn’t had class all week except for Friday. These are crazy times. Even the name “Polar Vortex” has a fun ring to it.
This coming week looks pretty normal. Hopefully we can find time each day to pray and make room for God. Not this week, but February 9-16, I am going with some parishioners to Belize. I have been to Kenya and some other places in the world that are not first world, but I am looking forward to the amazing things God is going to do through me and to me. What amazing opportunity to share Christ’s love with others. Please pray for everyone that is going.
This Sunday the Gospel reading is a continuation of last weekend’s Gospel. Actually the last verse from last week is repeated as the first verse this week. In it, Jesus makes the astounding proclaiming that the prophesies about the Messiah are fulfilled in Him. This is hard for people of Jesus’ home town to hear since they are so familiar with Him. How can this man that we have spent the last 30 years with be the Messiah that has been promised for hundreds of years? Jesus goes on to remind them that prophets are rarely accepted in his native place. He then cites the examples of Elijah and Elisha. He reminds them that they were not sent to help Israelites, but Gentiles, foreigners. This made the people of Jesus’ home town mad. So mad that they tried to hurl him down the hill near the town. Jesus obviously escapes.
In a society were we can insulate ourselves with people who think only like we do, in a society full of fake news, we need to make extra efforts to find the truth. The people of Jesus’ hometown were unable to receive and believe who Jesus really was. Instead they depended on their own opinion, which in this case, was wrong. Just because something is hard or maybe even improbable, doesn’t mean that it is not true. Jesus Christ needs to be our point of reference for truth. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.