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.
The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. (Wis 2:23-3:9)
As the liturgical year draws to a close and a new liturgical year begins on the first Sunday of Advent, the liturgy turns our attention to the Last Things. As we say in the Profession of Faith: He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end . . . I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
Love justice, you who judge the earth; think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in integrity of heart . . . For the Spirit of the Lord fills the world,
is all-embracing, and knows what humans say. (Wis 1:1-7)
Yes, God knows us better than we know ourselves. This week we will explore the Book of Wisdom. I always think of my grandmother’s wisdom: “Do the best you can, that’s all the angels can do.” Mother Cabrini founded a community of sisters who welcomed and cared for immigrants as Christ. Perhaps, Mother Cabrini has some wisdom for our world today! The pictures are of my grandmother, Minnie Goetting Torp (1906-1987), daughter of German immigrants, and Mother Cabrini (1850-1917), an Italian immigrant. The song, No Soy de Aquí, No Soy de Allá, is by Argentine singer and composer, Facundo Cabral (1937-2011), who said, "Every morning is good news, every child that is born is good news, every just man is good news, every singer is good news, because every singer is one less soldier."
We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words. (1 Thes 4:13-18)
Words of consolation for all of us who have lost loved ones. We who stay awake awaiting our Lord’s return. May our departed loved ones and all the Faithful Departed rest in peace. One day we will be together with them who have gone before us, and we will always be with the Lord.
I myself am convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another. But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:14-21)
As Saint Paul praises the Church at Rome for its goodness, he also speaks of his own priestly ministry on behalf of the Gentiles. We ourselves are the fruits of Saint Paul’s ministry. Saint Leo the Great, like Saint Paul, served the Church at Rome. This week the Padre will be visiting the Eje Cafetero (the coffee growing region) of Colombia with members of his Colombian family.
I, Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord. (Rom 16:3-9, 16, 22-27)
As we come to the conclusion of Saint Paul’s long Letter to the Romans, the secretary, Tertius, who’s actually writing the letter, transcribing the words of Saint Paul, photobombs the letter by taking the opportunity to send his own greetings to the Romans! Perhaps we all have a role to play in spreading the Good News! Today is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the First World War. We continue to pray for an end to all war. Today the Padre returns from visiting the Eje Cafetero (the coffee growing region) of Colombia with members of his Colombian family.
You are God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 3:9-11, 16-17)
As Saint Paul says, he laid the foundation of Jesus Christ, but we all get to join in building God’s temple out of the holiness of our lives. This week the Padre will be visiting the Eje Cafetero (the coffee growing region) of Colombia with members of his Colombian family.
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom 13:8-10)
Love is not optional . . . it is essential to faith, it is essential to life. We must love our neighbor in order to love God. This week the Padre will be visiting the Eje Cafetero (the coffee growing region) of Colombia with members of his Colombian family.