These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
Bear with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit
through the bond of peace;
one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.
The loss of civility in political life is reflected in the loss of civility in church life. Perhaps, that’s why the Scriptures remind us of the things that really matter: bearing with one another through love. Because there is something that unites us more than nationality, or patriotism, or party loyalty, as the Letter to the Ephesians reminds us: one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I consider all things so much rubbish
that I may gain Christ and be found in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. (Phil 3:8-9)
Now to him (God) who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine,
by the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)
God is always accomplishing more than we can ask or imagine. I’ll never forget the joy of receiving my mom into the church in December 1988 and then in January 1989, we made a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi, just the two of us. She met John Paul II twice: first at the audience in the Vatican; and then a week later at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls on the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul.
The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Eph 3:6)
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation. (Is 12:3)
How is it that we can draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation? Because God has called us all, Jews and Gentiles alike. We are all invited to drink freely of salvation in Christ Jesus. For those who want a “smaller, purer church,” well, they are bound to be a bit disappointed. But indeed, the question about the Gentiles was an issue in the early church that threatened to destroy the church itself. Perhaps, when the scriptures talk about Jews and Gentiles, and the issues of circumcision and food laws, we can feel a bit lost. But for anyone who has ever walked into a Tridentine Mass by accident can attest, the divisions between the “saved” and the “damned” are real and very ugly in this church of ours. Of course, there are people who want to go back to the “old ways” and live in the past, thinking that the security of rules and regulations of the past will save them from this terribly confusing modern world in which we find ourselves. But going back to the "way things used to be" is a fiction, there’s no time machine that will take us back to some perfect past. No matter how appealing, we can’t live in the past. We are called to be missionary disciples in this very divided and infected world. And the question comes again to the church, “What will we do with the Gentiles?” Perhaps, we all need to be reminded that charity invites us to accept the “Gentiles” as “coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” We are called not to the waters of Marah, the waters of bitterness (Exodus 15:22-27). We are called to draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation which is Christ Jesus.
The picture today is of the baptistery of the Cathedral of Cuernavaca, Morelos, México.
You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
What an image of our dignity as members of the household of God!
For we are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for good works.
God’s work of art . . . wow! But that’s who we are. At times Mother Nature may make mistakes, but God never does.
Today is the feast of the North American martyrs: St René Goupil (1642), St Isaac Jogues (1646), St Jean de Lalande (1646), St Antoine Daniel (1648), St Jean de Brébeuf (1649), St Noël Chabanel (1649), St Charles Garnier (1649), and St Gabriel Lalemant (1649). They were French missionaries to the native population of North America. There was a dramatic portrayal of the challenges (and horrors) faced by the missionaries in the Canadian film, Black Robe (1991).
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace.
(1 Thes 1:1)
The Letters form a major portion of the Christian Scriptures, especially the letters of Saint Paul. What is remarkable is that they survived these two thousand years. They survived because the tiny community at Thessaloniki treasured this letter they had received from Saint Paul and made a copy of it, and then sent it around to all the other little communities in their area—kinda like the original chain letter! And if the other communities had received a letter they simply made a copy of it and tacked it on to the letter they had received . . . and soon various groups of letters were spreading around the Mediterranean. And of course, they have come down to us.
The picture today is of modern day Thessaloniki.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
everyone who acknowledges me before others
the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch was martyred in Rome for his faith around 117 AD. As he wrote in his Letter to the Romans: I am God's wheat, and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become the pure bread of Christ.