This coming weekend is the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, in which we are asked by the Church to pray for members of religious communities, like the Salvatorians, women and men who have served this parish from its beginning. It has been an honor for me to a part of this loving community for the last 8 years.
Also, we are winding down our annual Salvatorian Sunday collection. I thank those who have already supported my community, the Society of the Divine Savior. If you would still like to participate, there are envelopes in the back of church or you can donate at bit.ly/salvatoriansundaypiusx. Thank you.
Our second reading this weekend, Paul’s discourse on love found in 1 Corinthians 13, is probably one of the most well know passages of the New Testament. I would guestimate that it was chosen for 75% of the weddings I have celebrated over the years. There are two important points to keep in mind to make sure we are understanding what Paul is telling us.
First, Paul puts love in the category of “gift” with his opening sentence. What he is going to talk about is a gift of God and it is only with God’s help that we will be able to live it.
Second, Paul is not talking about romantic love (eros) or brotherly love (philia), in which we feel an emotional attraction for another person. When we are “in love” with someone or are related to someone, it is easy to go out of our way for them. Paul is talking about “agape,” a love that is based on a commitment to a way of life and is able to consider the needs of another, even if we do not know the other or have any relationship with them. It is free and unconditional, that is, the other person doesn’t have to earn it. In fact, it is love shown when our feelings or emotions might be pushing us in the other direction.
Paul describes this kind of love as patient and kind. But what he is talking about becomes much clearer by what he says it is NOT: it is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over injuries, it does not rejoice over wrong doing.
Agape love is how we act, not how we feel. If someone cuts me off in traffic, I might FEEL angry, but if I act kindly, I am showing this special kind of love. If someone yells at me or harms me, but I am able to treat them kindly, despite any feelings I might have, I am living agape. It is the kind of love that Jesus modeled for us when, on the cross, He was able to say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Agape is quite a challenge. It urges us to act contrary to our feelings and emotions. That is why Paul starts off calling it a gift, a gift of God. Jesus modeled it for us. We are called as Christians to live this way of life. How are we doing?
Let our mantra to self this week be the end of our reading: faith, hope, and love remain; but the greatest of these is AGAPE.
Church sign of the week: Those who deserve love the least need it the most.
January 16th was Salvatorian Sunday, when we kicked off our annual collection at Pius for the religious community that staffs our parish. If you have not yet contributed, you can do so online or using an envelope that you can get in church or the parish office. I thank you for supporting my community, especially our formation of new members.
We are in cycle C of Sunday readings, the year of Luke, and the first lines of our Gospel today are from the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, in which he gives his credentials and explains his goal of presenting the things that happened with Jesus “in an orderly sequence.” He addresses “Theophilus,” which means “lover of God,” as he does in the other book he wrote, “the Acts of the Apostles.”
After this introduction, our reading skips over the infant narratives, John the Baptist, the baptism of Jesus, and Jesus’ temptation in the desert, picking up with Jesus’ return to his home town. It is a Sabbath and Jesus, as every good Jew, went to the synagogue, where He is invited to pick a scripture to read and comment on.
This is appropriate for our introduction to Luke’s Gospel, because it is Jesus’ first “public appearance” and Luke is telling us, through the scripture passage Jesus chooses, what Jesus’ ministry will be like: it is an overview of what is to come.
First, we are assured that Jesus is anointed and is operating under the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord. His basic mission is to bring “glad tidings” or “good news” TO THE POOR. Jesus has come to help those in need, whether that need be physical, emotional, or spiritual. Second, specifics are given: liberty for captives, sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed. Finally, we are told He is to “proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” This is a reference to the jubilee year, which occurred every 50 years, in which debts were forgiven and land returned to those who had lost it. In other words, Christ came to set us free from the debt of our sins. After He reads the scripture text, Jesus’ gives the shortest homily ever: Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing; in other words, Jesus is claiming this passage as His mission statement.
What does this mean for us? It tells us that Christ has freed us from our sins and failings: we are saved. However, we have to accept this salvation and work to better ourselves. What emotion or longing holds me captive? Jesus wants to set me free. What spiritual blindness do I have? Jesus wants to help me see. What is oppressing me? Jesus wants to set me free.
The Lord does not expect us to be perfect, but He does want us to be trying to improve. What can the Lord help me with today?
Church sign of the week: Jesus is a friend who knows all your faults and still loves you anyway.
This weekend, we have our annual “Salvatorian Sunday” collection, in which the Society of the Divine Savior asks for your financial support, especially for our formation program, which prepares future ministers for this parish and other ministries. Envelopes are being handed out that can be dropped in the collection box or returned to the parish office over the coming weeks. Donations can also be made online. I thank you in advance for your support of my community.
Today we celebrate the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary time. During Ordinary time, we are learning how to bring God’s love and compassion into the world by reflecting on the words and actions of Jesus.
Our Gospel today presents the wedding feast at Cana. I would like to comment on the interaction presented between Mary and Jesus. The wine is running out and the hosts would be very embarrassed. Mary says to Jesus, “They have no wine,” implicitly asking Him to do something. Jesus replies, “How does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come,” implying that He will do nothing. Mary says nothing to Jesus, but tells the servants to do whatever He tells them. She knew that Jesus loved her and would do what was right. And the problem was solved!
What does this say to us? There a lot of things we need as we go through life. It might be to get a job or solve a problem. Often, it might be because we or someone we love is sick. Like Mary, we turn to God and we ask for help. But it might seem that God doesn’t hear us or is not answering. The situation might even get worse and all we experience is a deafening silence.
That is when we have to act like Mary and simply move forward, trusting that Jesus HAS heard us and, since He loves us and has promised to be with us, He will answer our prayer. It might not be right now. It might not be the way we want it to be answered. But Jesus knows best, Jesus loves us, and Jesus will answer our prayer in the best way possible. We simply need to move forward, as did Mary, and all will be well. This is called “trusting in Divine Providence” and it was one of the central charisms of Blessed Francis Jordan, the founder of the Salvatorian Family. The medieval mystic Julian of Norwich expressed it as, “All will be well, and all will be well, and all
manner of things will be well.”
When I am stressed about something, I repeat those words to myself as a mantra, reminding myself how everything turned out so well for Francis Jordan, despite some incredible difficulties that were thrown at him.
I invite you this week to reflect on Mary forging ahead, despite the seeming reluctance of Jesus to do anything. Are you allowing trust in Divine Providence to calm any fears and anxieties? Can you pray with Julian of Norwich, “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well”?
St. Thomas said it well: “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
Church sign of the week: Never let adversity get you down, except on your knees.
This parish was founded by the Society of the Divine Savior and Salvatorians have ministered here over its 70-year history. This coming weekend, we will have our annual “Salvatorian Sunday” collection, in which the Society asks for your financial support, especially for our formation program, which is preparing future ministers for this parish and other ministries. Envelopes will be handed out that can be dropped in the collection box or returned to the parish office over the coming weeks. Donations can also be made online (watch for the link in next week’s bulletin). I thank you in advance for your support of my community.
Two weeks ago, we celebrated Christmas. Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of Jesus, which ends the Christmas season and is the first of 34 Sundays of Ordinary time (“Ordinary” means “ordered” or “numbered,” that is, from 1 to 34). It is good to celebrate Christ’s first coming on Christmas and to anticipate His final coming on the last Sunday of Ordinary time, the feast of Christ the King, but the majority of our time is spent in the middle, learning how to bring Christ into the world now, today, wherever we live. The Church doesn’t want us to stay stuck in the past or be thinking of the future: the Church wants us to be active disciples in our world today.
Jesus was 30 years old when He was baptized. He had been living a quiet life in Nazareth as a carpenter, but His life changed when He was baptized by His cousin John in the Jordan River and He heard a voice that said, “You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” This was the beginning of His ministry of bringing the “Good News” to the world around Him.
When we were baptized, God also said to us, “you are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.” He has called us by name (the baptismal rite begins with the naming of the one being baptized) and asks us to bring His love and compassion to a world so much in need of it.
How should we do this? We can learn by looking at Jesus. When He was baptized by John, He felt a call to go forth and preach. As His popularity grew, He wasn’t sure what to do. The people were expecting a political or military messiah who would make Israel #1 again. Jesus wasn’t comfortable with that. That is why He often told people He had cured to be quiet about what had happened: He didn’t want more attention. Jesus would run up the mountain to be alone. He was struggling to find His way.
What did He do on the mountain? He spent time praying, listening to His Father, and gradually He found His way. The last time Jesus did this was in the garden of Gethsemane, where He asked His Father to take the coming passion away, but then accepted His Father’s will.
To summarize: we want to do God’s will but how do we know what it is? Jesus tells us how: go off by yourself, be quiet, pray, listen, and the Lord will lead you to His will. Let’s make sure we are doing this. God bless.
Church sign of the week: When God measures a person, He puts the tape around the heart.