“And the two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What is you want?’ They answered Rabbi, where do you live? He replied “come and see. (Jn. 1:38-39). So the disciples took up the invitation and followed and spent the day with him. It is unfortunate that we do not have an account of what took place that day. What did they discuss? What was the reaction to this one who The Baptist call the “Lamb of God?” But, if Jesus was true to form, he would have begun to instruct these two would-be disciples in the Reign of God.
How does one begin to instruct another is a very new and novel way of thinking? I would think that the instructor would begin by giving some very broad ideas and concepts that would set the stage, as it were, to more in-depth information. Jesus would most likely invite these two to explore a new way of looking at life, not as we would view it, but as God would view it.
Jesus may have first present the “Broad View of God.” In this view, Jesus would invite the disciples to see that in a world where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds even more. That God’s last world is LOVE and HATE. That God is very hopeful, as hopeful as the old woman who is once heard to boast, “I’ve lived through the Depression and three world wars – I hardly wait to see what happens next!”
Jesus may have invited these men to explore would may be the “Long View of God.” Jesus would ask these disciples to take a new look at what nature shows us every day. That is, life can and does emerge from death. That some things must die that others may be born and that Victory can come from seeming defeat.
At last, Jesus may have invited the disciples to explore the “Value View of God.” Here, Jesus might remind these would – be disciples that being God is about all things. God is able to see everything in perspective and that all things are not equal. Here Jesus would tell the disciples to get their priorities in order. Jesus would tell them several important facts of this new life. First, that GIVING comes before RECEIVING. Two, that BEING is better than HAVING. Third, that GOOD comes from GOOD MEANS and Forth, that PEOPLE are prior to THINGS, and that God is most important above all.
We who have taken up the Lord’s invitation to “come and see” might want to come to understand that God is not looking for perfection. Rather, God is looking for people who are willing to strive towards that perfection to which we are all called. Maybe, just maybe, if we begin to see our world and ourselves through the eyes of God, we might be able to laugh a little more at some of our short comings, be a little more open, forgiving, and at peace with ourselves and those around us. And in this way we might, just might, come to believe that being human is our way to becoming divine.
Peace and All Good
Fr. Vinnie, osf
Be always the first do not wait for others to forgive for by forgiving you become the master of fate the fashioner of life the doer of miracles. To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return you will receive untold peace and happiness.
Here is the program for achieving a truly forgiving heart:
Sunday: Forgive yourself.
Monday: Forgive your family.
Tuesday: Forgive your friends and associates.
Wednesday: Forgive across economic lines within your own nation.
Thursday: Forgive across cultural lines within you own nation.
Friday: Forgive across political lines within you own nation.
Saturday: Forgive other nations.
Only the brave know how to forgive.
A coward never forgives, it is not in their nature.
By Robert Muller (from Dear Abby)
Fr. Raymond Brown wrote: “. . . working within the worldview of his time, Jesus, by driving out demons in his process of healing, is indicating that sickness is not simply a bodily ailment but is a manifestation of the power of evil in the world. . . suffering, tears, disasters and death are representative of alienation from God and of evil. . . the very existence of such factor indicates the incompletion of God’s plan.”
In the Gospel of Mark, we are told that the crowd came to Peter’s mother-law’s house and he cured them. We do not hear about who came, how he healed them or what he healed them of. Dis that beg to be healed? Did they allow the sickest to go first? Mark gives no instructions on how to behave or on what to say.
But, is it all that easy? “. . . no healing, no gift from God comes without some conditions.” William Faulkner once wrote. “The past is not dead –it is not ever past.” This sets the context for God’s condition. The past is not dead. Another southern writer, Flannery O’Connor, wrote in a short story about a father asking forgiveness from his son. The father states; I did not trust you, but please forgive me and forget it.” To which the son replied; “I’ll forget it, but you better not forget it.”
The past is not dead. . .it is not even past. . .the present is the totality of what went before. The acid of our past etches the metal of the present.
Even though we are healed, we still carry the scars that should remind us that we have wondered where we should not have gone. God asks that we remember that. God offers us healing, but that healing must be total me in the past, present, and future. God’s healing should make our lives a celebration of second chances and our prayer should be; “O God of second chances, here I am again.”
Peace and All God
Fr. Vinnie, osf
May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work of justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in the world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what other claim cannot be done.
Developed by Rev. Frank Toia
(Based on unpublished material by the Rev. Dr. John Weterhoff.
Our Father, who art in heaven. . .
What do you want to make possible in my life today which neither I nor any other human being can make possible without you?
Hallow be thy name. . .
What are the ordinary and routine experiences of life which you wish to make sacred today?
Thy Kingdom come. . .
In what specific ways do you plan to bring about your Kingdom through me today?
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. . .
What are the “Gethsemanes” in my life today about which I need today as you did, “Thy will be done”?
Give us today our daily bread. . .
What kind of spiritual, physical and emotional nourishment do I need most today?
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. . .
For what action or inaction do I need to be forgiven? Whom do I need to forgive? For what do I need to forgive myself as you have forgiven me?
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. . .
From what do I need to be protected today?
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Thank you, God, for your guidance. Help me to know you are surrounding me with your love all the day long.
Not in My Parish
By Fr. Nonomen
You never know where God will surprise you.
In the middle of a hot summer, while I was standing in the produce section at the local supermarket, a woman I had never met tapped me on the shoulder and introduced herself. She told me that she and her husband were not parishioners but had experienced an amazing Lenten journey at my parish. For the past two years, she said, they had fallen into a spiritual malaise. That began when the pastor of her own parish left the priesthood. He was a popular man, highly charismatic, and deeply spiritual. His unexpected departure brought to a head many issues in the church that she and her husband struggled with. Changes to their home parish also disoriented them. Looking for some fresh air, they had prayed their way through Lent with us and then joined us for the Easter Vigil. It was there, she said, that God gave her a gift: she watched as her former pastor and his new wife (who were never before at any of our Masses) joined the Communion line and received the Eucharist. “In that moment, I knew,” she said. “I was suddenly filled with a joyful, peaceful assurance that the church I love would weather the storms and issues that seem sometimes to tear it apart. Seeing Father Ed with his wife showed me how God is always doing something new! As they received Communion, I saw that there is room for all in Christ. And that has helped heal my heart.”
I walked away from this exchange with a bag of tomatoes and a grin on my face, thinking she doesn’t realize just how amazing the Communion line was that night. Besides Ed and his new wife, there were other Catholic priests and even a Protestant minister and her wife. Also, I saw a prominent local political leader, well known in the community and healing from a recent, very-public divorce. There were professional theologians and professional electricians. There were college students and middle-school students; the newly married and the recently widowed. It seemed that the depth and breadth of humanity was in the Communion line, all of their lives containing stories of hope and all of them, in that moment, drawn to one table, one altar, one Lord. I saw it. I sensed it. It was a foretaste of what liturgists call “the heavenly banquet.” I am so grateful that my new friend, the evangelizer in the produce department, saw it as well.
The people of the Kingdom are a diverse people, aware of their need and drawn to the God who welcomes all
As you might imagine, it didn’t take long for all these lofty thoughts of the Kingdom to come crashing back to earth. I thought of the diocesan administration and of how some might be extremely concerned about the “scandal” this sort of Communion line could cause. But as a participant and witness, it seemed to have the opposite effect, a healing effect. Of the hundreds who attended the Vigil that night, no one wrote a nasty letter of complaint, no unkind word was heard, not even so much as a passing sarcastic comment. Many noticed the same things I did that night and many were inspired.
How does this happen? To begin with, the Vigil Mass cannot be taken out of context. Throughout the year, the people of this parish make a deliberate effort to be hospitable and welcoming. That is especially the case for the Vigil, which is touted as the high point of the liturgical year. No one is checking “Valid Catholic” cards at the door, and no one feels a particular need to be a Communion Cop. We recognize that we’re all a bunch of needy sinful people, who are eager to make room for others at the Lord’s Table. Add to this a year-long, parish-wide emphasis on the religious education of adults, both through formal catechesis and in the way we run a picnic or a liturgy or a parish council. Education has a broadening effect, which hopefully trickles down to the heart. The wider the heart, the easier it is to see the working of God and, consequentially, the longer the Communion line.
The more intriguing question, perhaps, is not how but why this happened. I figure it to be a lesson in grace. At a time when elitism and intolerance have crept into so many facets of life, the Lord insists that the Kingdom of God will be otherwise and often surprises us with glimpses of it right here, right now. The people of the Kingdom are a richly diverse people, aware of their need and drawn to the God who welcomes all and lavishes grace on all, even that former priest, even that same-sex couple, even that unsuspecting cleric in the produce department who thought he was only going home with a bag of tomatoes.
THE LORD SAID, “GO”
And the Lord said, “GO!” and I said, “Who, me?” and God said, “Yes, you” and I said, “But I’m not ready yet, and there is company coming, and I can’t leave my kids; You know there is no one to take my place.” And God said, “You’re stalling.”
Again the Lord said, “Go!” and I said, “But I don’t want to.” And God said, “I didn’t ask if you wanted to.” And I said, “Listen, I’m not the kind of person to get involved in controversy. Besides, my family won’t like it, and what will the neighbors think!” and God said, “Baloney!”
And yet a third time the Lord said, “Go!” and I said, “Do I have to?” and God said, “Do you love me?” and I said, “Look, I’m scared. . .People are going to hate me. . .and cut me up into little pieces. . . I can’t take it all by myself.” And God said, “Where do you think I’ll be?”
And the Lord said, “Go!” and I sighed, “Here I am, send me!’
By Lois Hodrick
by Valerie Schultz – Valerie Schultz is a freelance writer, a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and the author of Closer: Musings on Intimacy, Marriage, and God. She and her husband Randy have four daughters.
Sunday Mass is in my DNA. This was not always a given. For a brief time, mostly during my high school and undergrad years, I did not go to Mass. I rebelled. I flirted with atheism. What I saw in the church was at worst hypocrisy, at best rote boredom. After I got my driver’s license, I would leave the house with my younger sister on Sunday mornings. My mother thought I was taking her to Mass. We usually went to the park instead, only stopping by the church to snag a bulletin as evidence.
Before I flew to Europe to spend a college semester in Rome, my mother made me go to confession, in case the plane crashed. With the brashness of youth, I told the priest that I was there under duress, and that I could not think of anything I wanted to share with him. He was wise enough to have a conversation with me about the gift of travel rather than try to convert me.
A semester in Europe with a Eurail pass meant that I immersed myself in history. I visited churches and chapels and cathedrals. I walked through the piazza in front of the Vatican almost daily. I marveled at the Sistine Chapel. I took a tour of Chartres. I went to an organ recital in Notre Dame. But I never once, in the midst of all that Catholicism, went to Mass. I regret that now, of course. At the time, I thought it was not for me.
Mass found me in my senior year of college at a Catholic university, and I have been going back ever since. I finally got it: the ritual, the communal celebration, the Eucharist, the palpable presence of God. I have not always been purely concentrated on worship; while my children were growing up, I often was more concerned that they behave in church than I was in tune with the Mass. I was a Director of Religious Education at a parish for eight years and often had to orchestrate the participation of students in children or youth Masses. I loved Mass, but it was part of my job. I was a go-to person in church, always busy, never still.
Now, however, I usually go to Mass alone. I am anonymous in many different parishes, as there is not one I call home. I usually sit in a pew that I think of as “All the Single Ladies,” as we seek each other out and make room for each other without exchanging a word. I think we spot each other by the secret signal of fanning ourselves with the bulletin, even in cold weather.
Each Sunday, I usually find myself in tears at some point before the final blessing. You might say it’s hormonal. Or the deep, satisfying breath that is only taken when one is at rest in a pew, where there is time to think, to reflect, to slow down, to let go. Or the reverence that Mass instills in me. Maybe it is all of the above. But there is something every Sunday that so deeply touches my nomadic Catholic soul that my eyes fill with tears. Sometimes I choke up. It may be a choir that is so full of joy that their music makes me cry. It may be the incense rising in a holy cloud as we in the pews are blessed. It may be an Irish hymn that reminds me of my mother, who died this year. It may be a family of hopeful faces, whose three young children are baptized during the Mass. Or last week: A little boy who had lost his father that very week led us in the “Our Father,” his voice sweet and clear. How could these things not make me cry?
I imagine I look like the odd old bird, sniffling during the homily, blowing her nose at the offertory or turning a tear-stained beak to wish a stranger peace. It’s fine. I am a Sunday crybaby, the lady my own children would have felt sorry for, the crone who must have experienced some terrible sadness to make her weep so openly. But I am not usually sad. I am just moved to witness the Spirit so alive and so well. I am an open heart, so grateful to be so loved by God. I might have come in wounded, but during Mass I am healed and made whole by the risen Jesus, who accepts me as I am and sends me back out there for the week.
And I am not alone in being a Sunday crybaby. A few months ago, I went to Mass with my brother-in-law. The Communion song was “Be Not Afraid,” and as usual, I had to stop singing at the point when the song overwhelmed me and I could no longer get out the words. Then I noticed: he had stopped singing. There was a tear on his cheek, too. “That song gets me,” he said, a bit embarrassed. I just smiled. I know, brother. I know.