Riding through the desert nearing Palm Springs, we noticed the field of often photographed wind turbines. I was transfixed by their soothing flow; all coming from wind and solar energy, but spinning at different speeds and even different directions. These turbines stand together in a crowd but starkly individual, drawing their power from the same source. As we draw our energy from the Son and the Breath of God (Holy Spirit), we too stand together as one (church in Christ), yet individual in our gifts, talents, wisdom and strength. We move at different paces and in different directions, yet all of our works and energy come together to make up the same combined purpose for the recipients of that power; the Kingdom of God.
As we met together today, some of us are hurting. We know that God is still on His throne, but our church has been harmed. She is the Bride of Christ. Pure. Beautiful. Chaste. Some members of the bride, however, have tried to damage her; but we cannot see anything but the beautiful gift we have been given in her and we refuse to let the sins of others divide us from the love of Christ. Like the turbines, we are singular, but one mighty force. As we meditate on the upcoming Sunday’s gospel, like the man’s ears who are opened by Christ, we too are healed, opened, and ready to receive healing.
Again Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Reflections from the group
He took him off by himself and away from the crowd…
Sometimes we miss hearing what Christ has to say to us because we don’t create the space and time to listen to him and remove ourselves from “the crowd”. The crowd can be anything in our life that distracts us from being still. Even good conversations, podcasts, books, etc. can still be a distraction if I am not making space to be silent to the voice of Christ.
Sometimes Christ does his best work in us when we are separated from others in our lives; whether physically, mentally or emotionally. Even distance from those we love can make space and room for Christ to work in us and cause us to grow in understanding about ourselves and our relationships.
He ordered them not to tell anyone…
Many times in the gospels we hear Christ remind his followers to keep silent about what they have seen and heard. We discussed the many explanations we have heard from different resources:
- Humility. Christ wasn’t one to brag or be boastful.
- Timing: It wasn’t the time for his Kingship; he didn’t want to hasten what was to come until due time.
- Faith: Sometimes he only wanted those who truly believed to be near him so he could do great works; doubt in our hearts can disrupt the flow of graces.
- Human Nature/reverse psychology: sometimes, when we are told not to tell something, it creates in us an urgency in us to share the news! Jesus often spoke of things in terms of nature because God created all of us to exist in a system that relies on God and our dependence on Him, as well as our need for one another. Like a tree that needs the soil, sun and rain, and then provides shade and fruit for others who need the tree, we can compare our lives to the integrity of the system of God’s love being received in us and then poured out to others.
To liken ourselves to the man who’s ears needed opening is to ask if I am open to the Holy Spirit’s work in me. Not only am I listening to the Holy Spirit, but am I open to the love God has for me and to share that with others? Am I open to using my gifts as He calls me to use them? Am I open to the expense that may present to my life? How much am I trying to control all these factors in my life?
Studying a Priest Who Lost His Job for God
These times in the church are presenting us with case after case of priests who are suffering at the cost of those who have done wrong and committed crimes against the innocent. Speaking out during a mass a week ago, a priest in California was sent packing after he called the people to truth. He reminded them of their responsibility in not only living holy lives themselves, but demanding the truth from their priests and bishops, reminding them that we were not created for the world, but for holiness. Messages we get from our priests need to be clear and strong, not bending or politically correct. But speaking the truth about God can hold great consequences as we know. This priest was subsequently fired (two days later) and as the reasons for his release are debatable, the message he spoke rang true to many of us (not to mention it evoked applause from the parish in which he presented his message. Not a common Catholic response in the middle of a mass!)
Theological Virtue: HOPE
Human Virtue: Fortitude; with an emphasis on Fidelity, Vigilence, Faithfulness
How We Will Act
Many of us shared stories today from their own experiences in the past two weeks as news of the hundreds of offenses against seminarians and children spilled forth out of diocese, and more shockingly covered up by bishops and higher-ranking church officials. Non-offending priests took the brunt of the anger, being scolded, mocked and even beaten. After our last apostolic resolution to write notes and reach out to priests we know who have lovingly served our families and parishes–the responses of which were tear-filled thank you’s for the support and acknowledgments of their efforts–we decided we need to continue efforts to let our priests know that we need them to continue in their ministry, and to do so with strength and truth.
How We Will Pray
We also discussed the need for the laity to awaken and rise to the need for holiness in our own lives. Not just in prayer for priests and religious, but to actually take responsibility in being THE CHURCH. We, the common people in the pews, are also the ones others look to for direction, guidance, light and love. EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US needs to remember that we are in a spiritual battle on this earth and none of us is exempt from the temptations that surround and threaten all of our souls continually. Each week we review our commitments to God, each other and the church and begin with this prayer:
It is my responsibility, Lord, and it depends on me, to see that your words are not lost. It is up to me to continue spreading your message of salvation to the men and women of our time. I commit myself to live your word in such a way that all who see me will give glory to God and feel moved by your grace to share in my faith and become its living witness. And so that this commitment can become a reality in my daily life, I renew the loyalty to you which I already made in my baptism and confirmation. In the presence of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer, and invoking the help of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Jesus Christ, Mother of the Church and my Mother...(then follows a review of personal commitments).
In light of the purpose of the above prayer, to remain steadfast and take ownership of our own means of perseverance in our holiness, we recognize that our fight is a spiritual battle. Therefore, we commit to saying the following prayer:
Invocation to St Michael the Archangel followed by:
O Holy Spirit, please give us the discernment to know when our hope in your guidance of us is being challenged by the evil one, when our faith in your mercy and forgiveness is being threatened by his insidious voice, when our desire to make new beginnings in our spiritual lives is impeded by false discouragement. Help us in this we pray, O Holy Spirit. Protect our bodies, minds and spirits, our thoughts, our emotions. Give us the strength to know and resist the snares of the deceiver and to remember that we live always in your grace. Amen