Sunday 12 August 2018

Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018

The readings for this weekend's mass are:

First Reading 2 Kings 19:4-8
Responsorial Psalm 34:1-8 Response 8
Second Reading Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
Gospel John 6:24-35

This is the third week we encounter the same story in the gospels. That tells us how important this message is. Jesus was preparing the disciples for the last supper, and the establishment of the communion celebration. Jesus states:
"I am the bread of life. Your ancestors are the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever' and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
I can attest to the power of communion. The handful of times I have missed mass over the last four years, the week after has always been a much bigger struggle. And the weeks where I make it to mass more than once, usually go much better. In fact I wish my work and home schedule allowed for more of the week day masses. 

But this week's readings are about more than Jesus being the bread of life. In the first reading we see Elijah being fed miraculously by an Angel, and not just once, but two meals to sustain him for a 40 day journey. This echo's how communion sustains us through our week. And it has not been provided by an angel but by the very Son of God, and is the Son of God. 

Again this week we have Paul, this still in his letter to the Ephesians. Paul is reminding us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. To live the life we have been called to and marked with the seal. He call for forgiveness where it is needed, and that we live to imitate Christ. This verse ties in well with the ongoing explosion of the clergy scandal in the United States and other countries. I do not know how a priest could preach on these words and live the life that is now coming to light. I am asked again and again about why I am Catholic in light of the current news. My answer is that I believe in the Catholic church, and I believe anyone can become a saint, or a sinner.  I believe the keys of the kingdom were given to Peter and been passed down, through history there have been great popes saintly men, and there have been scoundrels. And I believe that the Priests, Bishops, and Cardinals that have sinned and failed to live up to their celibacy, and abused their positions will be held accountable in the next life unless they truly repent. But looking back on my own life, my failures, my sins, I can state I would not cast the first stone. 

And with that I want to draw us back to the responsorial Psalm, For we cannot focus on the failures of men within the institution. We need to keep our eyes on God:

"R. Taste and See that the Lord is Good.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.

O magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him, and be radiant;
so your faces shall be ashamed.
The poor one called, and the Lord heard,
and saved that person from every trouble.

"The Angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him,
and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."

I love being catholic. I love that there are masses multiple times a day every day in my town. I love that the Catholic church founded schools, hospitals, and feeds the hungry around the world. Yes there is a need to clean house in the leadership, especially at the moment in the US. I think about the often touted future prediction of Father Joseph Ratzinger from 1 radio broadcast in 1969. From that longer piece I always come back to this quote:
"Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge - a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship."
And further on:
"And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man's home, where he will find life and hope beyond death."
And so I try each day to learn to be, and learn to be better at being. I strive to live my faith, and teach it to my children. To each day try and be the best version of myself. And through that to let my Catholic faith be a witness. And as always I pray for you my readers, and ask you to pray for me.

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