To Whom Shall We Go?

“Do you think I stole something?” I asked her.  The older lady who owned the book shop across from my middle school didn’t like teenagers, her husband would later explain to my mother, as he apologized for his wife’s semi-paranoid behavior.  “Well open it up and let’s see!” She said pointing to my tiny purse. After looking at a coffee table book of Marilyn Monroe that was too big for me to lift, I opened my small bag where my lip gloss, Hubba Bubba gum and a skinny strip of smelly stickers were revealed. Beside myself with fear, a police cruiser showed up to take information from my two accomplices and me (two other teenage friends).  Hot tears streamed down my 13 year-old cheeks not understanding the awful feeling I had in my stomach.  Injustice.  I had never felt it before, and as the police officer (obviously having been through this situation before at the local book store) laughed and joked with my two friends about the serious infraction of chewing bubble gum and window-shopping, I stood stunned and destroyed.  One of the rare moments I saw the LION come out of my mother was when she picked me up that day.  After listening to her make phone calls to the local police department and the book store owner to complain and defend my innocence, I felt better. Reparation.  I was not a perfect kid by any standard, but being accused for mistakes other teenagers may have done felt really wrong.  My mom couldn’t take away the injustice of being accused for something I didn’t do, but she stood up for me and believed in me.  I will never forget the feeling of having her on my side. It planted something amazing in my young teenage self that grew into a sense of fortitude despite my circumstances.  A similar sense of reparation was in our hearts as we met today; praying with the TRUTH of the gospel, and examining the value of good priestly accompaniment in our lives.

JN 6:60-69

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before? 
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him. 
And he said,
“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father.”As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” 
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life. 
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Reflections from the group
The words I have spoken are Spirit and life. and This saying is hard, who can accept it? 

It takes faith to believe that Jesus could offer us his flesh to eat as life for the world.  It was a strange concept, and as father said at mass last Sunday, the Jews were not use to eating anything unclean; particularly meat.  So to try to understand the concept that must have seemed like a kind of cannibalism (flesh for the life of the world) would have been shocking and difficult.  It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can appreciate and honor what Christ it offering to us; the sacrifice of himself upon the cross; the eternal bread of life.

Master, to whom shall we go?

Being a Christian in and of itself is hard, but our hope is in Christ. We were warned of times of trials and tribulations, persecutions and such as the things we are seeing today with our church.  But we don’t abandon God because of the mistakes of men.  The one true God is the only path to salvation.  We don’t abandon the truth.  The Eucharist gives us the graces we need to endure tribulation.

When we feel like murmuring or complaining, we need to look to Christ.  There is a “veil of positivity”  behind all troubles; (a saying one of our members has to remind her family of the brighter side of all things).

Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father.”

Once again, Jesus is reminding us that God’s has chosen to whom things will be revealed. Scripture reminds us that God reveals Himself to the hearts of men.  We should not feel as though we have control over the conversion of non-believers, other than doing our best to be obedient to what God is asking of us; staying steeped in scripture and prayer and loving those He sets in our path.  It seems that the miracle of a heart opening up to understand what is behind the veil of faith is only performed by love of Our Heavenly Father.

A Case of a Loving Priest

A young couple who owned their own restaurant very much wanted their baby to be baptized, but could not afford to close the business on a Sunday, even for this special occasion.  They asked their local pastor if he would do so, and he made arrangements for them to have their child baptized, wherein he spoke memorable words over these young parents.  He told them that they had been chosen to be this child’s parents since the beginning; and that they had a special child whose destiny to serve God a special way.  Those words so profoundly affected the parents of this child, that they decided to take a leap of faith and close their business on Sundays, so they could attend church as a family.  What seemed like a small financial loss in the beginning, ended up being an investment in something much more valuable; their sanctifying love as a Christian family.  They felt deep love and commitment to one another and God.

A few years later, they asked if the same priest could perform a special Spanish Mass for their same child to receive first Holy Communion.  The pastor by this time had built up a large thriving parish with over 100 ministries and finding himself fully scheduled, hesitatingly declined; arranging for another Spanish-speaking priest to do the ceremony.  The couple then explained how he had impacted their family and changed their lives years earlier at this child’s baptism.  The few words he had said that had caused them to take a risk and become part of the church community in a fuller way had been so powerful, that they desperately wanted to have him be a part of this special moment for their son.

Because of the insistence and sentimentality of this young family, the pastor made a commitment to perform the ceremony, despite his busy schedule.

Many of us have been touched by the lives of priests in a positive way.  We have been blessed to have them blessing our homes, conducting our wedding ceremonies, blessing our children with baptism and communion, and beside us during our most difficult moments, particularly leading our beloved dying home to God. We have had our priests walk beside us during difficulties with family and illness, as well as eating dinner and playing games together as a family.  Their presence has been a blessing and  impactful human representation of a loving Heavenly Father, as well as Christ-like in a dear beloved friend and brother.

As people in our church suffer at the hands of those human beings who were tempted away from their ministerial duties as priests to violate the innocent, we mourn and grieve.  But like the gospel today, we do not betray God for man:

Master, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life. 
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.

When we look at horrific situations as these, we take the perspective of a family member or care-giver.  We ask ourselves with hearts turned to God what we are to do and how we can repair such sin in the world?

Human Virtues: Fortitude and Prudence

How we will act

We will reach out to one of the loving priests in our lives who have accompanied us along the way, offering their lives to Christ and his sheep, with love and purity of intention, to thank them for their love and generosity in our lives.

How we will pray

We will join the movement #sackclothandashes  to help make reparation for sins of those priests who have hurt others and for healing of their victims.

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