Different Paths. Same Journey.

In this morning’s Gospel reading, there is a battle that plays out in every family. Who is the greatest? Who is the least? As my mother’s favorite, I can relate.

Then Jesus takes a child and makes some comments about having the faith of a child and about receiving the Word like one receives a child. But that is not my favorite part of the passage. Here are my favorite lines:

Then John said in reply,
“Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name
and we tried to prevent him
because he does not follow in our company.”
Jesus said to him,
“Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

You have to love a guy who wants to stop other people from doing that which is good and holy because that person doesn’t “follow in our company.” It’s like the party on the left yelling at the party on the right for doing what is right but going about it the wrong way. Or the people at work who accomplish a great task but get criticized because they didn’t go about it the way we would have. What kind of world would it be if we all kept our eyes on the Light and not on the path we took to get there?

I think this is what Pope Francis is talking about when he says, “The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts (cf. 1 Cor 12:7), rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for them. We are all called to be witnesses, but there are many actual ways of bearing witness.” (Gaudete et exsultate, 11)

This week let us be witnesses. Let us refrain from imitating others and be faithful to the gifts God has given us. Let us not fight about who is greatest or who is the least.

Most of all, let us recognize the good works going on around us and acknowledge that, even though we might have done the work differently, God is present.

~pjd

 

 

Becoming What We Receive

On Sunday, the Holy Father took the Corpus Christi procession outside Rome. Following the example of Paul Paul VI, Francis celebrated Mass in Ostia, a short distance outside the eternal city and the place venerated as the port town where St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine, died in 387.

The pope’s homily is a good read in its entirety and you will likely see headlines about his call for us to seek Christ in the “abandoned tabernacles” of the poor and lonely. But there was one paragraph that stood out to me more than others:

In the consecrated host, together with a place, Jesus prepares for us a meal, food for our nourishment. In life, we constantly need to be fed: nourished not only with food but also with plans and affection, hopes and desires. We hunger to be loved. But the most pleasing compliments, the finest gifts, and the most advanced technologies are not enough; they never completely satisfy us. The Eucharist is simple food, like bread, yet it is the only food that satisfies, for there is no greater love. There we encounter Jesus really; we share his life and we feel his love. There you can realize that his death and resurrection are for you. And when you worship Jesus in the Eucharist, you receive from him the Holy Spirit and you find peace and joy. Dear brothers and sisters, let us choose this food of life! Let us make Mass our priority! Let us rediscover Eucharistic adoration in our communities! Let us implore the grace to hunger for God, with an insatiable desire to receive what he has prepared for us.

Read that again.

What would our Church be like if every family made Mass a priority? What would our parishes look like? What would our homes look like if we choose “this food of life” again and again and again? Gone would be the yelling. Gone would be the hate, the swearing, the disrespect, the dishonesty. Gone would be the violence in our schools and on our streets. Gone would be the distinction between black and white, rich and poor, haves and have-nots. Gone would be division, derision, and polarization.

Why? Because if you choose the “food of life,” you become bread for the world. When we become what we receive, the only response is love.

“Let us implore the grace to hunger for God…”

Then let us get out of God’s way and let God work through us.

~pjd