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.
Many are invited, but few are chosen. (Mt 22:14)
I’ve always loved the character of Auntie Mame as portrayed by Rosalind Russell. My favorite line from the movie, Auntie Mame: “Life is a banquet, but most poor fools are starving to death!" And as Auntie Mame says, “Live, that's the message!” And as the Lord invites us to the banquet . . . what will we do? Let’s live and enjoy the banquet—making sure that there’s a place at the table for everyone!
As young man, I joined Saint Bernard Abbey in North Alabama. Today's picture is of the Saint Bernard Abbey Church .
Because my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep; because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD: I swear I am coming against these shepherds. I will claim my sheep from them and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep so that they may no longer pasture themselves. I will save my sheep, that they may no longer be food for their mouths. For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. (Ezekiel 34:8-11)
A lot of so-called Catholic folks have criticized Pope Francis when he talked about “clericalism” and said that shepherds should smell like the flock. But Pope Francis didn’t come up with this all by himself. The prophet Ezekiel was way ahead of him . . . by more than 2,000 years!
The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre: Thus says the Lord GOD: Because you are haughty of heart, you say, “A god am I! I occupy a godly throne in the heart of the sea!”— And yet you are a man, and not a god, however you may think yourself like a god. (Ezekiel 28:1-2)
“Pride goeth before a fall” as the Bible says (Prov 16:18 KJV) . . . and so the prophet Ezekiel delivers a harsh word to the prince of Tyre. Probably a good reminder in this political year when folks want to attribute divine approbation for their particular political candidate. Well, no political candidate is the candidate of God. God’s candidate is Jesus Christ. And as Jesus said:
“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God . . . . Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first” (Mt 19:24,30).
The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Mt 19:20-22)
When the cost of discipleship goes up, will we walk away sad or will we let go of all that holds us back and follow Jesus?
The picture today is from a Chinese artist illustrating the story from today's gospel.
For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (Is 56:7)
Forty years ago my grandmother and I attended the ordination of a friend, Father Ted Hochstatter, at the Cathedral of Peoria, Illinois. The next day Father Ted celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at the country church that his grandparents built. It was a remarkable Mass because the music was provided by a deaf choir where Father Ted had worked. In addition, the entire Mass was presented in Sign Language. Father Ted met Mother Teresa in Rome in 1990, and in 1993, kneeling before Mother Teresa, Fr. Ted promised whole-hearted, free service to the “poorest of the poor,” to take no salary, keep no savings, and have nothing of his own. To this day, Fr. Ted is still working with the Missionaries of Charity, the order that Mother Teresa started. He has served the Missionaries of Charity in Rome, USA, Haiti, Albania, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. For the past 20 years, Father Ted has worked among the “poorest of the poor” in Kenya and East Africa. Father Ted works every day to make God’s house, "a house of prayer for all peoples," especially for the “poorest of the poor.” His webpage is frtedskids.org.
God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Rev 11:19-12:1)
The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the promise and the foretaste of the future resurrection of all who follow him and the great reunion of all the saints. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates that reunion that Mary now shares with her Son.
But I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young; I will set up an everlasting covenant with you. (Ezekiel 16:60)
That God remembers is the foundation of faith. We trust that even though we forget, God will never forget us.
Saint Maximillian Kolbe gave his life to save the life of another prisoner in the concentration camp of the Nazis. His sacrifice reminds us that God never forgets an act of kindness.