With Faith

08-30-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

The COVID Pandemic has certainly had us all experience how fleeting life can be. As time moves on, everything still is constantly changing. Sometimes we observe how things are getting better, and then all of a sudden we hear of “clusters” and “hot spots” and how things must again become immediately more restricted. We are living in a day-to-day period of great instability and uncertainty. Our civil society is in turmoil as it is fractured. The long complex history of racism in our country is at the forefront and should be. The great divide of super wealth and the average American’s income exacerbates everything. Race, class, and income are three areas that collide and cause such turmoil during these days. Our governmental leaders have lost sight of what matters for the people. Their common purpose and vision for all of us are missing. The Common Good for all of us is not held as a primary value.

Our scripture this weekend helps to give us a valid perspective for understanding life today. We learn we need to put our trust and faith in the next world, where things will be as they have been promised by our God, but also work for change now in this world.

Our Old Testament prophet Jeremiah had to announce God’s message to folks who did not want to hear. People often do not like to hear the truth if it is negative or if it disagrees with them. In our second reading, Saint Paul writes to the believers in the City of Rome to change their values and to make them more in harmony with the nature of God. Saint Paul challenges the people to have more of a life that reflects God’s love by being hospitable to immigrants and strangers, by associating with the lowly and, as important, to make sure that they feed their hungry enemies. He does not tell them to feed those whom they like or agree with, but those who are their enemies, the outcasts in their lives.

In today’s passage, our Gospel writer Matthew takes on the task of telling the Jewish followers of Jesus that they need to take up his cross and follow him. Jesus wanted his disciples to let go of the ways and values of the world. Matthew makes clear in his writing that to follow Jesus; we must give up our lives for Jesus. What happens when we do this is that we will gain the whole world, which is a world we cannot fully comprehend. We gain this world if we give up our lives for Jesus.

To carry a cross and deny ourselves is not easy and goes strongly against today’s popular cultural values. We are told that life should be easy and there should be no pain, and, in many ways, no personal effort by us. When we come to accept in our hearts the sacrificial cross of Je-sus, we gain an understanding of our meaning and purpose. In listening to the Gospel stories we journey along with Jesus from way up north in Galilee until finally three years later we arrive in the south in Jerusalem. As we journey with Jesus like the apostles and followers of his day, and as we listen to him and see his actions, we can change the world around us. We should realize that in hearing the story of Jesus and pondering and reflecting on its meaning for us, we come to discover that in good times and especially in bad times such as now, we find our purpose and life in following Jesus Christ and his Way. With faith, our life makes sense these days. With faith, we work for change to help make this world a reflection of God’s heavenly Kingdom.

Fr. Brian