Sunday, June 25, 2017

Safe In The Palm of His Hand



“Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Mt 26:29-31
 

Jesus hears the prayers of the heart and never fails to reassure us. He knows how easily we give in to doubt and fear. He promises that He and the Father know and share our littlest concerns and our greatest pains. Especially during life’s most difficult times, entrust your cause to the Lord with faith. 

When my mother became seriously ill, I prayed fervently for her. I asked God to hold her in the palm of His hand, to protect her and keep her safe. But over the next few years, she went from bad to worse, ending up in a nursing home after suffering several small strokes and multiple health problems. As she got worse, I continued to pray but sometimes wondered why my prayer – as I envisioned it – was not granted and why she had to suffer so much.

Good things happened during that time, too.  The nursing home staff was wonderful, and their professional care relieved my father of being her “nurse,” allowing the two to rekindle their relationship. My father spent a lot of time visiting. And, although my father was not a practicing Catholic during that time, he made sure she received the Sacrament of Anointing near the end of her life. When she died, he was beside her, holding her hand.


For her funeral, we chose some traditional songs, including a favorite of mine, “On Eagle’s Wings.” Although I’d heard it many times, I guess I hadn’t really paid attention to all the words, which are based on Psalm 91. As it played at the funeral, the words of the chorus broke through my sadness: “And He will raise you up, on eagle’s wings… and hold you in the palm of His hand…” and I knew that God really had heard my prayer and had always been there, holding her gently in His hand, until the moment He lifted her up to Himself. 

 
And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.
You need not fear the terror of the night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day,
Though thousands fall about you,
Near you it shall not come.
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Living Bread From Heaven




"I am the living bread that came down from heaven…" John 6:51

In today’s Gospel, Jesus makes the remarkable claim that His flesh and blood are real food and real drink: the life-giving food that brings eternal life. Moments later, John’s Gospel will also testify that this teaching caused many of His disciples to walk away and leave Jesus. How could such outrageous claims be believed? Even his chosen twelve are confused. But when Jesus asks if the twelve will abandon Him also, Peter says, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

This teaching about the Eucharist is the pearl of great price; the treasure above all treasures of the Church that I long to share with those I love, many of whom are far from the Church. I long to share this treasure with my faithful friends of other Christians churches who love Jesus so much, yet fail to see Him present in the Eucharist, nourishing us, loving us, and as He promised, remaining with us always until the end of time. I long to share this truth with the many Catholics who have left the Church, because if they knew Jesus in the Eucharist, they would, with Peter, know there was no place else to go.

Perhaps no one this side of eternity can fully comprehend the infinite treasure we hold in the Catholic Church: the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist. But if we truly believe that Jesus speaks the words of eternal life, we must accept this beautiful but difficult teaching, and with Peter, proclaim that there is no other Church, no other place to go to find Jesus Christ, truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist.

 The Angel's Prayer
 
O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly.
I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and
indifferences by which He is offended.
 
By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary
I beg the conversion of poor sinners. Amen.

 
 
 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

We Believe in One God, Three Divine Persons


Andrei Rublev [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
 
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that
everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:16

On Trinity Sunday, we celebrate our belief in the mystery of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: One God, three Divine Persons. This belief is what sets Christianity apart from other religions. We believe that Jesus Christ is both God and man, fully human and fully divine. This is folly to those who do not believe, and blasphemy to those who insist on a God who would never condescend to the level of humanity or submit to death on a cross.

There are many people of great faith, Jews and Muslims among them, who reject the idea that Jesus Christ is God. There are even some religions that take the name “Christian” but do not believe that Jesus Christ is God. Yet this is exactly what Christianity is all about.

The martyrs of yesterday died rather than deny Jesus, witnessing to their faith despite violent persecution. The unlikely Christian martyrs of modern times are still dying today, all over the world. Construction workers in Libya, schoolchildren in Pakistan, shoppers in Nigeria, and churchgoers in Egypt are standing strong for their faith in the face of death at the hands of Islamic persecutors, witnessing to their unfailing belief in Christ until the very end. They are very literally asked, with a blade to their throat, to deny Jesus Christ and they refuse.

Who would have thought, living in our free country, that we would see such times as these? We may never be challenged at the threat of death to stand up for Jesus. But we must stand with and for our persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide. We must be willing to defend the Name and the Divinity of Jesus Christ and to demand the protection of the Christians under siege, who in many countries are facing genocide. Because our God is “a merciful and gracious God,” we must act and speak with love and mercy, but also with strength, courage, and boldness to defend our faith against this violent and growing persecution.

 
 

 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Come Holy Spirit! Heal Our Wounds, Our Strength Renew


“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.”

The Gospel for today takes us back to the Resurrection of the Lord. Jesus appears to His disciples, who are hidden away behind locked doors, in fear for their lives after witnessing the crucifixion of the Lord. Jesus shows them His wounds, still visible in His resurrected and glorified body, so they will know this is no mere vision but the Lord himself; Jesus has conquered death itself.
Jesus gives them a simple, powerful message. He gives them the gift of peace; they will no longer have to live in fear, but peace will reign in the hearts of all who believe, even in the face of persecution and death. Death has no more power over those who believe and follow Jesus.
Jesus sends them to bring this good news to the world, empowering them to accomplish this mission with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Just as God created the heavens and the earth with the breath of His mouth, Jesus creates the world anew by breathing the Holy Spirit upon His Church. This gift remains with the Church throughout all time, guiding and leading her, for the benefit of all the faithful.
There is yet another gift bestowed on the Church in this short scene from John’s Gospel. In the excitement of hearing about flames, wind, and speaking in tongues, we sometimes forget about the gravity of this simple yet miraculous gift. The Church is empowered to forgive sin. And this is, after all, the very reason that Jesus died – to take away the sin of the world. The Church is also given the ability to discern which sins should be forgiven, and which should be retained. When we confess our sins in the sacrament of reconciliation and receive absolution from the priest, the very breath of life reaches us and we are recreated, renewed, and brought back from death to life.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew… Wash the stains of guilt away
Give them your salvation, Lord; Give them joys that never end.
 
 
 

 

Nicholas Kristof's Birth Control Advice Hurts Women and Demeans the Poor

Photo from theFederalist.com     My response to a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof promoting birth control for teens was ...