Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Good Shepherd calls His own

Fourth Sunday of Easter
“Good Shepherd Sunday” – 29 April 2007
Rosary Monastery, St. Ann’s
Port of Spain

“Paul and Barnabas urged them to remain faithful to the grace God had given them.”
“I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.”
“…the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
“The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; …they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me.”

Good Shepherd Sunday, as today is called, is dedicated to prayer for vocations, especially to priesthood and the religious life. We need to beseech God for religious and priestly vocations, but we also need to know why we ask this of Him.
If he were here to defend himself, Fr. Tiernan would probably correct me if I said that in the Ireland of his boyhood, the “why” of his vocation and that of so many other boys his age and older who went to the seminary was self-evident. Maybe it wasn’t. One thing however was clear still yet when my generation was hearing about such things 20 years later at school. Earlier generations had a more realistic idea of the prerequisites for a vocation to the priesthood, for example, than boys or young men do today.
We were told in religion class or catechism that the prerequisites for a priestly vocation were a sound mind and a sound body, a little better than average intelligence, and that was it. I can remember puzzling over that, because it didn’t seem all that romantic or supernatural, but it certainly was reassuring. Even I can be a priest, if God wants me.
You see, the point is that God calls. Years ago there was a brand of canned tuna which advertised on TV with a cartoon character named “Charlie, the Tuna”, who was always trying something new to get caught by the Starkist Tuna fishing boat. Sometimes he’d dress up, sometimes he’d be reading a book or playing a violin, but whenever he made a grab for the hook, it’d get away from him and come back with a note on it reading, “Sorry, Charlie, Starkist doesn’t want tuna with good taste, it wants tuna that tastes good!” It’s the same with vocations. God knows the heart, He knows us inside out and He is the one who calls us.
I was in Bermuda last weekend for the Annual Plenary Meeting of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC). One of the big concerns which all the bishops shared was the scarcity of vocations to the priesthood here in the region. Aren’t there any? Aren’t there any young men around for the seminary? Isn’t God calling? Is He silent for some reason? The fact that we raise our prayer to God for vocations on Good Shepherd Sunday is in and of itself a partial answer to such questions. Of course there are vocations; of course God still calls and calls in sufficient numbers for the needs of the local Church and perhaps even for a mission outreach to people elsewhere; God does not leave His flock untended. He continues in our day and time to lead us to everlasting life in the community of the Church. Servants of His altar cannot be lacking. But…? But what?
In today’s Gospel we have the same thought: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; …they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me.”
The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church and one of the practical applications of that teaching is the assurance that God will call sufficient men to serve at His altars.
Lots of times people will try to tell you that priests and bishops are the key to calling forth the next generation of vocations and the crisis of identity of priests is at the heart of the vocations crisis. Needless to say, this observation has some merit, but it does not contain the whole truth. As a little boy, I think I learned my appreciation for the priests, my respect and even awe for them at home. Until I became a priest myself at 25 years of age, I can count on one hand the number of priests who visited our family at home. Back then, Father didn’t greet at the door of the church after Mass either. There wasn’t much personal contact. But before he even spoke, I knew Father was important and he had a special part to play in God’s Universe. I learned that as a small child at home and the message was confirmed for me at school. Add to that the fact that even as a ten year old I could see I was healthy and everybody told me I had a better than average intelligence, and well, God did call me and He continues to call us from our mother’s womb as it is said.
I’ve read books that recount the story of so called belated or adult vocations. They’ll always talk about how they honestly fought their vocation, not because they didn’t want to be a priest, but because they couldn’t imagine themselves that way or felt themselves unworthy. They were stopping their ears, in a sense, and refusing to listen to God’s call as it came forth ever so subtly from their hearts and was confirmed by family, friends and teachers, who didn’t necessarily push, but pointed to a real possibility in life for them.
Faithfulness/perseverance in the priesthood or in the religious life is also rooted in lessons learned at home from Mommy and Daddy. Parents and their happiness in marriage are positive input for a call to celibacy or virginity. The Sacrament of Matrimony mirrors divine love and offers most of us the only experience of the sacrificial love of Jesus that we might readily have in life as young persons.
TV, Internet, certain types of live entertainment and music tend to drown silence out of our lives and fill our heads sometimes with wrong things and too often with distractions. What to do? Pray for yourself! Lord, help me to clear my ears, eyes and head.
The other day, in the gate area of Terminal A in Miami, waiting for my flight back to Port of Spain, I looked up from my book for a moment and everyone around me was talking on a cell phone, all ages, shapes and sizes. Truth to be told, I’d wished I’d had a cell phone the day before in New York where I couldn’t find a pay phone that worked. But back to our prayer: Lord, open my ears and my heart. Lord, touch the heart of that boy in the pew in front of me! Lord, call my grandson, if it be your will!
I can remember getting a little kind of sticker, slightly bigger than a bookmark that someone gave me when I was about ten which had the prayer on it: “Oh Lord, grant that I might become a priest after Thine own Heart.” I dare any boy or man here who has not committed himself yet in life to kneel down each night before you climb into bed and see if God doesn’t take you up on your offer if you sincerely recite that prayer, all other things (sound mind and body, better than average intelligence) being equal!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Divine Mercy Sunday

I can remember some years back there was a certain perplexity on the part of one or another as to how that would work when Pope John Paul II designated the Second Sunday of Easter Divine Mercy Sunday. Low Sunday, as this Sunday is also called, is First Communion Sunday in many countries and many liturgists would like to see it, as the Octave Day of Easter, given a special place in the post-baptismal catechesis of the adult initiation process. Patience and calm have ruled the day and it seems this Sunday has taken on new importance precisely because of the focus on Divine Mercy. The beautiful invocation Jesus, I trust in You! is successfully making the rounds in some of the cultures which need it the most.
The real issue over this Sunday involving the "unrest" of the past was/is that of the recognition or admission of one's need for God's mercy, awareness not only of my fallen nature (original sin), but of my sin as well, of my personal / direct / real / actual / specific need for forgiveness. Giving universal status to St. Maria Faustina's message about the Divine Mercy amounted to a confrontation.
The problem in the life of the Church which Divine Mercy Sunday addresses is very real and the message given to her a very good reason for why St. Maria Faustina was raised to the dignity of sainthood. If you aren't convinced of the amount of denial of the reality of personal sin which goes on or characterizes an ample cross section of Catholics in our day and time and touching folks from the High Altar to the back pew, then just mention the proposal to retranslate in the next edition of the English Sacramentary the keystone of the 1st form of the penitential rite at Mass, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa with "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault". Albeit true that it's already quite a bit to get many people to confess that "I have sinned through my own fault", the word "grievous" seems not to want to apply for some reason.
The good news is that St. Maria Faustina's Divine Mercy Chaplet and even the Novena are catching on: For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Catholic radio and EWTN deserve a lot of credit in this regard, but the truth is that the Divine Mercy Chaplet fills a genuine need and speaks to a burning issue. The prayer, Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world, is truly weighty. The Divine Mercy Chaplet seems to be able to ring into a noisy and distracted life like a tiny silver bell and bring calm, bring reason, bring that measure of silence or stillness needed to face up to our need to confess our sins and do penance.
Our dining room has two split unit air conditioners: an old original, noisy one, insufficient even when there are six people at the lunch table; its handmaid, robbed from another part of the house and installed here for just those occasions when the old unit can't quite hack it. Somehow both units went out in rapid succession, the second on Wednesday of Holy Week. We were able to enjoy the high holy days with the windows open and a quiet little circulation fan. Needless to say, I heard the neighborhood really for the first time in the two and a half years I've lived in the house. As there isn't really much traffic in the neighborhood and even less over Easter, it was truly enjoyable to pick up on smaller sounds, like the wind rustling through dry palm fronds and precipitating their fall to the ground. Although I'd hate to have to entertain guests without AC, it certainly was enjoyable to spend a week without the hum of compressors outside closed windows, sweat or no sweat.
Let the Divine Mercy Chaplet help you to contextualize today, too. Sort of like AC off and windows open to a beautiful world out there. The world of "you are loved and saved, washed clean of your sins, perhaps even grievous ones, in the Blood of the Lamb. Atonement is for me and for you personally and we rejoice in Christ's victory. Let the Divine Mercy Chaplet take the "thump" out of your life and let you see and hear clearly in the real presence of the Dearly Beloved Son!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

In Spirit and in Truth

Easter Sunday
8 April 2007, Rosary Monastery
St. Ann’s, Port of Spain


“Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.”

If only there were more people in the world like Cornelius! Here’s a Roman citizen, a pagan, who with his family becomes convinced of the God of Israel, starts praying faithfully, opens his heart and life to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and is rewarded by our loving God, who let him become the first Gentile to hear the good news of the Resurrection and receive baptism from Peter himself.
As I say, if only more people, baptized or not, were like Cornelius! He put his life and the life of his whole household in God’s hands and was richly rewarded in hearing about and receiving God Himself in His Fullness, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as Gift into his life and the lives of his loved ones.
The women came running frantically this Sunday morning to tell Peter that they had found the stone rolled back and the tomb empty. Peter and John set off at a dead run to see for themselves. The Gospel of John says that the disciple Jesus loved went into the tomb, he saw and he believed. Peter tells Cornelius’ household:
“…three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.”
All of us here present this morning really have a double calling, or should I say, we can find ourselves both in Peter and in Cornelius. The angel who appeared to Cornelius told him to send for Peter in Jaffa. The angel did not announce the Resurrection; Peter, the witness, did. Ours is not a mystic, crystal revelation from the Age of Aquarius or from any other new age’s crystal ball, but the gift of another person to us. Mommies and Daddies bring their little Cornelius’ and Cornelias to baptism and share their prayer life and faith with them. What happened in Caesarea to the household of Cornelius happens in every Christian home.
Now that’s the way it should be, but it could be that we didn’t grow up in a Christian home or we didn’t appreciate what we had at home or maybe didn’t have the kind of a witness we needed at home. Maybe Mommy and Daddy weren’t Sunday church people, who ate and drank, so to speak, with the Risen Lord. As we know, it’s never too late and many a Cornelius or Cornelia finds his or her way to the Risen Christ as an older child, as an adolescent or even as an adult. The key is a hunger and thirst for truth, light and life, along with a readiness to be taught by God in the person of the witness He sends to us. That witness may be a grandparent, may be a teacher at school, may be a relative our own age, may be a schoolmate, may be someone at work or even someone we meet by chance.
For all of us here the Cornelius side of our calling may already be history and the actuality would be our other vocation to be witnesses, to be people who hear the prompting of the angel’s voice like Peter on the rooftop in Jaffa at prayer and go looking for that Cornelius or Cornelia who is seeking God in truth. For most of us, that is something we’ll do not on the road but right at home, right at the office, in school or at play. We’ll do it by being people who have kept the flame of faith from Baptism alive in our hearts, people who if we have sinned or fallen from grace have come back to oneness with the Lord through the sacrament of penance and a true spirit of repentance. We’ll do our witnessing just as St. Paul urges us, that is simply, by never hesitating to answer should someone ask us the reason for our hope.
Our faith is neither esoteric nor does it require of us getting up on a soap box or shouting about on street corners. Our faith is living with God at home, giving Him that hour plus on Sunday, the first day of the week, never denying Him by the way we speak, act or dress. Marriages that are founded on love, grow in love and despite differences and misunderstandings endure and win in love are evident both to the rest of the family and to friends. Faith is the same: it’s not preachy it’s lived and loved.
Rejoice with me this Easter, all you Corneliuses and Cornelias out there! You are hearing the best of all good news: Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia! He is risen as He said, Alleluia! Rejoice with me this Easter, all you Peters and Johns and Mary Magdalens and other Marys who were at the Tomb early this morning and found it empty! Rejoice in the Risen One! Alleluia!
Try, just try and find something to compare with this! Alleluia!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Our Hope in His Victory

Easter Vigil 2007
Rosary Monastery
St. Ann’s, Port of Spain


At the risk of provoking a puzzled look or two, I’m going to state that our whole life as Christians is one big, long Easter Vigil. Not only is the Easter Vigil the mother of all vigils, the night of nights, it is a metaphor for the way we live out our Baptism in the course of the years granted to us on this earth. Alleluia.
What is the Easter Vigil in a few words? What is our life as baptized Christians in a few words? It’s about remembering or recalling how God saved His people throughout history and about how in the fullness of time He sent his own Son to be our Redeemer. It’s about our hope and prayer that God (through this Easter celebration / through our living out of the grace of our baptism day by day, year for year) may bring to perfection the saving work He has begun in us by water and the Holy Spirit. “He is risen and He has appeared to Simon!” Our hope for this life and for the next is in His victory over sin and death. Nothing else really matters. Alleluia!
After lighting our Easter candle, we spent time this evening with the Scriptures, now we’ll renew the promises of our Baptism, and then we will celebrate in the Holy Eucharist the central mystery of our faith. This is our vigil and this is our life. It reaches its high point not only at Easter, but every single Sunday, which as we know is “Resurrection Day”.
The early Christians suffered martyrdom rather than go without their Sunday Mass. Why has the first announcement of the Gospel generally been accompanied by persecution of Christian believers and their martyrdom? Because Satan doesn’t give in that easily; he’s not willing to turn over his control of people’s lives that easily. We are washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb. The Lamb was slain in mortal combat but lives forever victorious over sin and death, over Satan’s power. The strife is o’er the battle done… as the Easter hymn goes. Alleluia! We walk in the footsteps of Christ, we go to Him, and we identify with Him who suffered, died and was buried outside the walls, outside the vineyard. He rose victorious from the dead and vanquished the power of evil. Again: Alleluia.
I don’t know about you, but I have the worst time getting over or getting away from being curious about “how the other half lives”. By that I don’t mean the “rich and famous”, movie stars or politicians: most of their tragedies or insufficiencies are too evident and their choice of a certain life holds no attraction whatever for me. No, I tend to waste time wondering how certain good people in the world have failed to become Christians. It’s nothing more than a distraction, I know. Invariably however, I find out that such people are not truly happy. They don’t necessarily remain where they are because they think their life is the best or because they are satisfied. They content themselves rather with their life because they can’t imagine a better option. In some cases they live in fear of what might happen, if they let down their guard for a moment. It goes without saying that I could also describe a lot of baptized people as living that the same way, like pagans. Maybe (to refer to the famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi) that’s why some thoughtful people aren’t even attracted to us. For others the message of the Gospel is just too good to be true.
The Easter Vigil is a reminder, a pep talk for each and every one of us the baptized, encouraging us to stir up the flame of faith within us. We are called to set the world around us on fire with what seems to be the little light and warmth flickering from our candle of faith lit at Baptism.
It is no small task, but be of good courage. If you proclaim Jesus, True God and True Man, the Savior of the World who hung upon the wood of the Cross, our Light, the true light which comes into the world, if you proclaim Jesus, not by so much talk, but by the choices of your life, by your holy life, by your living out as best you can your vocation whatever it might be: husband and father, grandfather, mother and spouse, grandmother, widow or widower, single person, student, son or daughter, religious woman of the active or contemplative life, priest, papal nuncio. If you do so not only will you live happy, but you’ll join the fight to make up what is still lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the salvation of the world. You will be His Body.
I spent three years of my career in Jerusalem and I must say that one of the things which impressed me there were the pilgrims coming to Jerusalem from Ethiopia for Holy Week each year. I never talked to one of them that I can remember, but you’d see them about their devotions always dressed in white robes, baptismal garments. The white garment is a symbol of our having put on Christ in baptism. With the garment at our Baptism come the words of the priest exhorting us, exhorting parents and godparents to keep that life in Christ unstained.
A most blessed Easter to one and all!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Quiet Time with the Lord

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
Good Friday, 6 April 2007
Rosary Monastery, St. Ann’s, Port of Spain


In today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah Jesus is called “My Servant” and in the second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews He is called “The Supreme High Priest”.

“Hence I will grant whole hordes for his tribute, he shall divide the spoil with the mighty, for surrendering himself to death and letting himself be taken for a sinner, while he was bearing the faults of many and praying all the time for sinners.” (Isaiah)
“Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.”
“Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.” (Hebrews)

His Obedience, His Exaltation, Our Salvation

My sister who lives in Switzerland shared with me by email recently her positive impressions of a Lenten weekend retreat for the adolescents she teaches in catechism class. She also commented that although she had found them chatty and distracted in class, it had never dawned on her how pervasive this behavior was until she spent a whole weekend with them and noticed they were never, never really quiet.
Older people like myself generally know what you mean when you say you’d like a little quiet time, but it would seem that a big part of the younger generation only knows “sleep and go”. Their motors don’t seem to have other gears, like quiet time. “Quiet time” is different from what some parents talk about when they tell their small child, “You need a time out”. Normally, “a time out” means disengagement, separating two fighters or two teams. In sports it’s used to catch your breath and get your team strategy down. “Quiet time” is very different and not possible as an alternative to an afternoon nap, where children used to curl up with a book, because unfortunately today’s child may instead of books have a TV or stereo or some kind of GAMEBOY thing in his or her bedroom, which successfully keeps “quiet time” from ever coming to be.
How do we reflect on the great events of these holy days and their meaning in our lives today if we’re never quiet, if our minds are always racing? That’s tough, also because the idea of Jesus’ obedience to the Father is not a simple equation of 2+2. It needs some sorting out if we are to understand its meaning in our lives. You’ve got to be able to be quiet and in some way reflective if you want to be able to appreciate how surrendering himself to death, bearing the faults of many and praying all the time for sinners can lead to Jesus being exalted by His Father.
What is “salvation”? My big Webster’s Dictionary gives as meaning N. 2 and I quote: “In theology, [salvation is] the redemption of man from the bondage of sin and liability to eternal death; the saving of the soul through the atonement of Jesus.” It’s a good definition, but memorizing a definition like that is barely a start to becoming a religious person, a happy person, a person who lives his or her baptism, a true follower of Jesus Christ. It takes quiet and thought; it takes reflection.
A local priest here in T&T had many thoughtful, otherwise quiet hearts troubled because of his article in the CATHOLIC NEWS a few weeks back which insisted that packing folks in at church, jumping and shouting, and lots of emotion count more toward salvation than the seven sacraments, than a reflective, prayerful celebration of the Sunday Eucharist… Maybe he’s too young to understand the importance of quiet time? I don’t know.
I hope your minds were quiet and attentive during the reading of the Passion according to St. John just now. If they were and you didn’t get emotional, don’t feel bad, don’t be uneasy. Sentiment or emotions do belong to this day; Good Friday should tug at our hearts. But the reason for the long Scripture account is also and perhaps primarily to help us fix firmly in mind the scene of Jesus’ suffering and death for our salvation. In a moment, as God’s children, we will intercede for the entire world in prayer with texts which are not spontaneous but official: dignity and duty call for such formality. After that, with an informed eye we will gaze upon, venerate the crucifix. It is our annual thank you to Jesus; it is our identification with him, which then carries over into the reception of Holy Communion for those who may.
Good Friday, the ancient liturgy in modern form and language which we celebrate today, would be familiar to the European pilgrims who found themselves in Jerusalem on this day in the basilica built by the Emperor Constantine to encompass the Tomb of Jesus and Mount Calvary. Our worship today is similar to how Christians have observed this day for over 1,600 years and continue to observe it in the Catholic tradition of the Latin Rite even in our time. We must have something good going for us, if this celebration has been around that long. I only wish I could give everyone “quiet time” especially on this day so that they could understand this.
The old spiritual hymn asks the question “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Yes, I was today. I have it all, every moment, fixed firmly in my mind and heart.
If your Good Friday has been troubled up until this point, don’t worry. Start your reflection right here and right now. I wish each and every one of you “quiet time” this Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It’s important to realize that Jesus does it all in obedience to the Father and does it perfectly, such that the Father exalts Him, Who alone has won salvation for each and every one of us.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

As One Who Serves

Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Holy Thursday, 5 April 2007
Rosary Monastery, St. Ann’s, Port of Spain

For many of us the ritual foot washing each Holy Thursday helps us identify a powerful and predominant sentiment, let’s call it “gratefulness” or “love”, welling up within us as we see that God’s love for us, made flesh, made seeable and touchable in His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, that this love goes beyond affection for us creatures and lets itself be described by the word “service”.
Holy Thursday is an occasion for us to recognize and say thank you for His greatness, as we confess the truth in love and namely that God indeed has and continually does serve our good and save us. Nobody does it better; no one is better for us than God. This is not an impression or a dream. No, God sent His Son Jesus to us to save us by His suffering and death, leaving us an example of heroic virtue to follow through service of our neighbor, and which never stops to count the cost. We are not only served and saved but we are taught the path we are to follow in living out our daily lives.
The hand extended to us by God in Jesus Christ is not a demand to pay up; it is arms open to embrace; it is service; it is gift. It is Jesus’ gift of the Eucharist to His Church; it is Jesus’ gift of the ministerial priesthood given for the sake of the Eucharist: given for the Church and given for you and for me.
Holy Thursday: it’s another way for Jesus to say to you and to me what he says elsewhere in the Gospel: “Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome and I will refresh you. Come and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.” Enjoy, rest in, take your rest in the great mysteries we celebrate this evening through sign and symbol, and be refreshed for life’s journey!
Does Holy Thursday really provide answers? Do the great mysteries we celebrate this evening really deliver? Does the foot washing, does this liturgy, does this day, this night on which Jesus was betrayed, say something to the world? Were Eucharist and Priesthood given to us by God in Jesus to respond to some sort of felt need? Which one would it be? What is it that God, that we His Church, that we the Mystical Body of Christ have to offer to the world? What makes us special? What is it that we have to say to others? The community of the Church, the baptized one and all, as well as all those who seek God with a pure heart should see with our help the rightness, the worth, the inestimable worth of the Sacrifice of the Altar, which recalls and renews for us the Sacrifice of the Cross, offered once and for all for the forgiveness of sins, once and for all to reconcile us with God.
There’s nothing marginal or minority about these mysteries. They are not ethnic or peripheral, not bound to a given culture or race. They are at the center of all human life. They are right and absolutely so for everyone and for all times. The matter really lies there does it not? Is the Bread of Life truly light and life for the world? If that were not the case then when we talk about the practice of the faith of our Baptism are we not talking about an acquired taste for something that may just be a luxury or an option like leather upholstery in a new car? Is the Catholic faith, is the Eucharist, and is Priesthood something essential to life, something we cannot do without “yes” or “no”?
On the night He was betrayed, He (Jesus), He who? (He, the Only Begotten Son of God), took bread, took the cup, said the blessing and then said, “Do this in memory of me.” The Mystery of Faith: We speak to God in Christ and we proclaim: “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life… Lord, by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free, you are the savior of the world”.
The civil holidays for Easter here in T&T run from this evening through Easter Monday. That you are here this evening probably means that you have not opted for a beach holiday package in Venezuela. With no cards to write and no gift shopping to do, I would ask you to spend as much time as you can with the Lord of your life these days. Go beyond being touched by the ritual of the foot washing. Stir up the flame of faith within you, which goes beyond sentiment.
Sad to say, our world is Godless or idolatrous in lots of different ways. Some people deny God exists; others claim they don’t know Him and have no way to get to know Him; others, with ears itching (as the Scriptures say), go off in search of preachers to fit their fancy. The One True God is much more elemental, much more basic. His priorities are not wealth, beauty, material means, vacation homes, jewelry or power. He washes feet, shows His love, and bestows life everlasting, joy in His presence. Move from sentiment to action, move from meditation and prayer in these holy days to conquest of a world in search of hope. Never apologize for being a good person; never regret seeking holiness, oneness with your Creator and Savior.
On Mount Horeb, God presented Himself flashy to Moses and the Chosen People such that Moses’ face remained radiant with an afterglow, which he hid with a veil from the people. In the New Testament our faces are unveiled to reveal the radiant glory of the face of God’s Only Son, not flashy but beautiful just the same, one like us in all things but sin. The Blessed Mother and Mother Church present themselves in just the same way, not flashy but proclaiming good news. Self-gift after the manner of Jesus Christ, service in His Name, where charity and love prevail, there are we and there our world can and should be, with God now and for ever more.
“When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’”