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.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. (Mt 7:1-2)
We church people love to pass judgment on others. It just comes naturally. Perhaps that’s why Jesus had to spell it out for us: STOP JUDGING! And then to make sure we understood he added some of the most important words in the Scriptures: the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
The picture today is of Mr Humphries from the Men's Department at Grace Brothers in the British comedy, Are You Being Served?. With good humor, Mr Humphries always made sure that everyone got measured.
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 10:29-31)
God's love is a providential love, God provides for all our needs . . . and we of little faith need reminding because sometimes we forget. It's like that old gospel hymn that Ethel Waters used to sing: ♫His eye is on the sparrow . . . and I know he watches me♫. Like a mother who tenderly cares for her child, like a father helping his child to take a first step . . . our God cares for us . . . and provides for all our needs. This God who like a loving parent will never, ever forget us.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. (Lk 2:51)
The scriptural references to the Heart of Mary . . . remind us of the love of Mother and Son . . . two hearts that beat as one.
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." (Mt 11:28-30)
The feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us that God has a human heart. The Lord is with us in every circumstance of life and knows us better than we know ourselves.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one. (Mt 6:9-13)
“This is how you are to pray: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ (The Lectionary)
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. (English Language Liturgical Consultation)
The prayer that Jesus gave us has suffered through the ages from translation. Perhaps the common texts movement had a point in trying to give modern English speakers a text that everyone could pray together, Catholics and Protestants. But of course, the bishops of the USA failed to act and so Catholics are still praying in Elizabethan English. Please note Jesus did NOT speak Elizabethan English nor any other version of English even though the lectionary makes you think so. Thank goodness we can all pray from the depths of our heart as Jesus taught.
When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here; the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan.” “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you,” Elisha replied. And so the two went on together. As they walked on conversing, a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. When Elisha saw it happen he cried out, “My father! my father! Israel’s chariots and drivers!” But when he could no longer see him, Elisha gripped his own garment and tore it in two. Then he picked up Elijah’s mantle that had fallen from him, and went back and stood at the bank of the Jordan. (2 Kgs 2:1,11-13)
In the South, making an entrance or an exit is a work of art. But Elijah’s departure in a flaming chariot—well that’s really hard to beat. To see your mentor flying up to heaven in a fiery chariot must have left an impression on Elisha. Perhaps that explains the almost mirrored work of the two prophets. The ministry of Elijah is reflected in the similar works of Elisha.
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father. (Mt 5:43-44)
What can I say? “Love your enemies.” The Lord asks impossible things of us . . . but of course, he gives us an example. What else happened on the Cross but that the Lord forgave us all? If only we could learn to love our enemies . . . what a different world it would be!