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.
Christ Jesus humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:1-11)
Saint Paul uses this early Christian hymn to encourage us to have the same mind and heart of Christ.
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD. Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they shall be his people and he will dwell among you. (Zec 2:5-9, 14-15a)
What a remarkable prophecy—that God will dwell among us, fulfilled in the coming of Emanuel, God-with-us. Saint Jerome (342-420) said that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” He single-handedly translated the Hebrew and Greek scriptures into everyday Latin which was then the language of the people. His principle for translation was not word-for-word, but rather sense-for-sense.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Bless the LORD, all you angels,
you ministers, who do his will.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The archangels guide, protect, and are messengers of good news. May the Lord continue to watch over us through the ministry of the angels and may we always join in their hymn of praise before God’s throne.
Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways! Go up into the hill country; bring timber, and build the house that I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory, says the LORD. (Hg 1:1-8)
Almost 70 years ago my mom became friends with a visiting Norwegian nurse, Joss Engen. They remained friends all their lives. My mom and Joss have both died. But this week Joss’s niece and her husband came from Norway to visit me in Colombia. We had not seen each other for 35 years, since my mom and I went to visit her friend Joss in Norway. Yesterday as they continued their journey to Cartagena and then on to Machu Pichu, they joined me for the early morning Mass at the House of the Lord (my local parish next door). The friendship of my mom and Joss continues! God bless you, Per & Heidi!
Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Lk 9:1-6)
Ministry to the sick and suffering is an essential part of the proclamation of the Kingdom. The church has always been involved in caring for the sick. As Jesus says, “I was sick and you cared for me.” Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) is best known through the work of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society which serves the poor in over 150 countries.
The children of Israel–priests, Levites, and the other returned exiles– celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. (Ezr 6:7-8, 12b, 14-20)
Visiting Jerusalem on pilgrimage is a religious experience for Jews, Christians and Moslems. I found myself overwhelmed at the Wailing Wall and on the Via Dolorosa and in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the other holy places. Perhaps, over 50 years of studies and ministry prepared me to experience the profound joy of standing on the Temple Mount.
Jesus said to the crowd: "No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. (Lk 8:16-18)
“This little light of mine . . . I’m gonna let it shine!” is not just for children. It’s a challenge for all of us—not to let anyone (including ourselves!) conceal the flame of faith burning brightly in our heart and in our life.