April 18, 2021
3rd SUNDAY OF EASTER SEASON
We are still celebrating the Easter season and will be doing so until Pentecost Sunday, and in today’s gospel we hear of the appearance of the Risen Jesus to his Apostles and others who were gathered in the Upper Room where just a few days before the Passover meal and the Last Supper had taken place. Those present still harbored fear and undoubtedly confusion as to what had happened in the past few days. This rendition of the appearance of Jesus on the first Easter Sunday night comes to us from the gospel of Luke, and in the gospel of Luke we first hear, not in today’s segment of Luke, of the wonderful experience of two followers of Jesus who walked with him on the 7-mile trek from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and had the surprising revelation that they had been walking all along with Jesus in whom they had been disappointed. That recognition did not happen until they entered the place in which the two disciples were planning to dwell for the evening. We can imagine that the dwelling was somewhat dark, just as the road had been, since in those days people only had oil-lamps to illumine any room. It might have been that factor that kept them from recognizing Jesus upon entrance, as well as the fact that they were certainly not expecting him to show-up. We know the name of only one of these hosts, Cleopas, and it is sometimes conjectured that the other person may have been the wife of Cleopas since they were sharing a common dwelling, but we do not know that for a fact. They are usually pictured as being two men, but we do not know any more about them than what the text of Luke tells us. At any rate, recognition does not come until these two followers recognized Jesus in, as they said, “ the breaking of the bread.” When Luke uses this phrase, he means more than the sharing of a meal. He is really speaking of the meal Jesus shared at the Last Supper, the Eucharist. Could it have been that these two had also been at the Last Supper just a few days before? Or had they heard from the Apostles a description of the new twist that Jesus made to the meaning of the Passover meal on the night before he died, and recognized that twist as Jesus unfolded it before their eyes? At the “Breaking of the Bread” is experienced, the Resurrected Lord disappeared from their sight, and the two excited followers immediately high-tailed it back to Jerusalem, seven miles away, to inform the assembled Apostles what they had experienced. It is here that our gospel of today takes up. Having come to the Upper Room we are told that the two recounted “ “what had taken place on the way to Emmaus and how Jesus was made known to them in” the breaking of the bread.” The gospel tells us that while they were still speaking about this, Jesus stood in the midst of all of them and said to them “Peace be with you, “ and then explained to them why it was that the Messiah had to suffer and die, and enjoined upon them to give witness to His resurrection, as Peter dutifully does in our first reading.
I have often thought of how fortunate those two disciples were to have encountered the Risen Jesus two times on that first Easter night. Many believers in Jesus’ Resurrection would love to have that empirical experience of having encountered the Risen Jesus just once. Those two must have been very special people in God’s eyes to have experienced two physical manifestations of the Resurrected Lord on the very day of the Resurrection. None of us have had the privilege of having seen the Resurrected Lord even once, but we know the Lord through the gift of faith. The gift of faith, given to us by the Holy Spirit, enables us to hold to the authenticity of Jesus’ Resurrection. As the scriptures tell us, “ We walk by faith, and not by sight.” Walking by faith and not by sight may sometimes be accompanied by the same kind of experiences of doubt that the two disappointed disciples knew and expressed to Jesus when he first joined them, unrecognized, in the dusk of the evening. If you at times experience disillusionment in your faith as initially did the two disciples, pray to the Holy Spirit, the giver of faith, to dispel the doubts which might emerge in your soul as you make your own faith- journey not on the road to Emmaus but on the road of life of life.
Until we see Jesus in the actual way those who were privileged to see him in the days after his resurrection, he has given us the great gift of encountering him as the crucified and resurrected Lord in the “Breaking of the Bread.” Our church of two thousand years has always held the very real Jesus becomes present to us when we receive Him in the Eucharist. He is not just symbolically present, but actually present in this divinity and humanity, and comes to nourish our faith and our spirits in the form of food. He is food for journey on the road of life. May we have the same experience of recognizing the Lord in the two ways that the two disciples did on that first Easter night : through his actual presence in the “ “Breaking of the bread, and eventually by experiencing Him face to face when we share in His resurrection ourselves.
April 10, 2021
When I was studying a course on the Old Testament way back when I was in the seminary, there were several major themes that emerged as predominant and common throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, permeating all of it. One of them was that individuals of the Old Testament times did not become affiliated with God all by themselves as individuals; their identity with God was established by their being part of the Covenant People of God. Today there are many people who believe that they do not have to belong to any group or church to approach God; they can do it all by themselves, me and God. We see that reflected in a statistic about religious affiliation which is increasingly manifested in our modern society in the United States. I read most recently that only 49 % of Americans now have any affiliation with any church. A few years ago, it was 70% percent. Many people who do not belong to any church say that they believe in God but they do not need to belong to a group to have a relationship with God. They can do it all by themselves in their own way. The Old Testament did not see it that way! A common theme of the Old Testament Scriptures is that people became affiliated with God in so far as they belonged as individuals to His Chosen People. Their identity with God was established insofar as they were individuals who were subsumed into the Covenant which God made with His people. It was through incorporation into the People of God that the individual attained a bonding and identity with God. This was one of the major messages I gleaned from my first serious course in Old Testament studies so long ago: that God’s main plan of action in bringing people to Him and Him to people is to have them be part of God’s family. Incidentally, that same theme was and is central in New Testament times. We, as individuals become affiliated with God by belonging to the New People of God, the Mystical Body of Christ. We see that theme reiterated in the New Testament and in the writings of the Church Fathers.
We gather, on this Sunday after Easter, still celebrating fullness of the Easter Season and we hear of two appearances of the Risen Christ to his sequestered Apostles. ( I guess we all know a bit about sequestering in these days!)
The first appearance happened on Easter Sunday evening and we are told that ten of the remaining twelve, Judas being dead, were gathered together. Thomas was not present with them when the Lord appeared to the ten of them. The second appearance we hear of in today’s gospel took place a week later. Thomas was present at that time and it is only then that Thomas is finally and firmly convinced that Christ has indeed come forth from the tomb. There are many directions to go forth in compiling a homily for this Sunday after Easter. The usual one would be to speak of faith finally realized in the life of Thomas, and his doubt prior to the second appearance of Jesus, and to apply it to faith and doubt in our own lives, but I thought I would extract from our gospel to a not-too-mentioned meaning we can sift from it, a meaning which is consistent with what I just said about the importance of being in union with the People of God to experience the presence of God imbued in his people. Thomas missed out on experiencing the presence of the Risen Lord because he was absent from the community of the Apostles when Christ first appeared among them. His faith in the Resurrected Lord was firmly established a week later when he was among the body of believers who would become the first Church. Perhaps we can draw a simple conclusion about this: when we absent ourselves from God’s people it is not likely that we shall encounter Him in the way we can when we identify ourselves as being one of His people, and celebrate that unity. When St. Joan of Arc was asked the question at her trial as to what she thought the Church was, she rightly answered that “ it was the extension of Christ’s presence among his people down through time.” It is very true that our faith and identity with Jesus is celebrated and strengthened when we belong to the New People of God and celebrate the unity we have with Christ though and with one another.
We hear in our first reading of the church in the first decades after the resurrection of the Lord. Believers are not identified as simply individuals, but our reading opens with the words: “ The community of believers was of one mind and one heart. “ The caliber of their faith was so strong that many of them surrendered their very belongings for their fellow believers. They brought the value of what they owned, often the proceeds from the sale of their homes and set it at the feet of the Apostles who then distributed these goods to those of the community according to need. We can only imagine a community endowed with such idealism that they surrendered their vital possessions for the betterment of their fellow believers. We are not called to do that to the extent that they did, but their generosity shows us that the believers of the first few decades of Christianity strongly realized that their belonging to Christ came along with experiencing Him in the context of his religious family and consisted in their radical dedication to sustain and better that community.
St Luke tells us in the Acts of the Apostles, ( not included in our readings for today) that the embryonic church of the first few years expressed their faith in four fundamental ways: they were faithful to the teachings of the Apostles; they were faithful to the Community of Faith; they were faithful to a practice of prayer, probably initially celebrated with the Jewish people in the synagogues, and they worshiped by the “ breaking of the bread” which in Luke is a clear reference to the New Testament meal of the Eucharist.
Those four expressions of our faith are still central to our connection to Christ in our Church to this day.
We all have experienced alienation from one another socially in this last year. It has happened in our families with children and grandchildren unable to visit their elderly loved ones in convalescent homes, with people dying alone with no family member able to be with them, with families unable to celebrate vacations, Thanksgiving, holidays with people they loved, with neighbors and friends afraid to mingle with each other. We can go on and on with the experiences of social alienation we have experienced in this last year because of the pandemic, and we have all suffered from it. Perhaps it was necessary for us to live this way for the time because of what we are facing, but these ways of living are not natural…nor life building….nor relationship building, nor do they bring us the comfort that being with others brings us.
We have experienced that same kind of isolation in our parishes during this last year. It is important for us to strengthen our faith by being corporately faithful to the teachings of the Apostles ( as did the primitive Church) , by being involved in a community of believers with Christ as our head, by being united in common prayer and by worshipping by the “ breaking of the bread.” Our religious communities have suffered because of these deprivations just as our friendships and relationships have suffered because of isolation. I am glad you are here today to be strengthened by Christ who is present in the breaking of the bread and in the presence of one another. God has made us social creatures and maybe that is why the Lord chose to come to us primarily though our incorporation into His family and through the example and support we can give to one another.
March 07, 2021
3rd SUNDAY OF LENT
Our gospel today takes us to the Temple in Jerusalem. There were and are many synagogues; but there was only one Temple. The Temple was a place in which the presence of God was especially believed to be present. It contained the Arc of the Covenant and a special inner chamber called the Holy of Holies which was not accessible to the general public. I now offer a fast review of the Temple’s history because I want to apply the importance of the Temple to our spiritual lives today. The original Temple was built by King David’s son, Solomon, about one thousand years before the birth of Christ. Then, in the year 587 B.C. it was torn down by the conquering Babylonians ( Babylon would be where present day Iraq is today). The conquering Babylonians took back to Babylon a significant number of the Jewish population to work as slaves. That exile lasted about fifty years. Sometime after the exile ended, a rebuilding of the Temple gradually commenced. It was completed centuries later by King Herod who was king when Jesus was born. It was again torn down by the Romans for the final time in 135 A.D. because of the rebelliousness of the occupied Jews and has never been rebuilt.
The very spot on which the Temple was built had a most significant meaning to the Jews since it was said to be the place where Abraham took his son Isaac to be sacrificed. That spot is thought to be the only place where the Temple should be constructed. One of the problems in ever considering rebuilding the Temple there is that when the Muslim’s came into existence hundreds of years after the destruction of the Temple, they built what-to-them is a most important mosque on that very same site where the Temple once stood, and it would cause World War III if Israel ever tried to build another Temple on that spot.
The Temple, when it existed was believed to house the very dwelling of God. God is everywhere, but He was celebrated as being present in a special way in the Temple.Our gospel of today takes us to the Temple which would exist for only about another hundred years after the event recorded in our gospel. We see a Jesus at this scene who does not fit into the stereotypical idea we have of him. He took a whip and angerly expelled the merchants who were doing a robust business there. His ire was aroused because they were de-sacralizing a sacred place where it was celebrated that the very presence of God resided, and they had made it, increasingly, into a place of profit. This reduction of the sacred into the profane is always something that is appalling to God, and it should be to us.We can draw an important lesson from this scene. We of the Catholic Faith believe that just as the Temple had the Holy of Holies in which God’s presence abided in a special way, we have in our churches world-wide the Blessed Sacrament present in the many tabernacles of our churches which adorn the world. To the Jews there was only one Temple in which a unique manifestation of God’s presence abided; we have thousands and thousands in which the Lord’s presence is present in the unique way in which he abides in the Eucharist.
When we enter church, do we have sufficient awareness that we are entering the abode of the Lord. It is true to say that God is everywhere, but our faith professes that He has a special mode of presence in the Eucharist, housed silently in our tabernacles. Are we sufficiently aware of the Lord’s sacred presence when we come into church? Do we approach the doors of the church with sufficient awareness that we are walking on holy ground? In the gospel, the destressed observers of this incident recalled for us today demand an explanation as to why Jesus did what He did in the Temple area. Jesus’ answer to them was indeed a disconcerting answer to their ears. Jesus said, “ Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up.” It is understandable that his hearers would interpret that statement as referring to the Temple in Jerusalem where Jesus’ disruptive behavior had just taken place, but the gospel tells us that He was speaking about the Temple of his body.What is the Lord actually saying with this response? That as the Temple in Jerusalem was believed to house the presence of God, his human body was an even more important manifestation of God’s abiding presence than the Temple was. He is God living in a human body. If a temple is said to be the house of God; Jesus’ body houses the presence of God in a most unique way. HE IS GOD! At the time of Jesus, the Temple had torn been torn-down in the past and would be torn-down again permanently in the not-too- distant-future, but because Jesus’ humanity is God’s dwelling place par-excellence the death of His body would not be permanent because of the abiding presence of God residing there. That presence would not succumb to destruction as the Temple had and would again in about a hundred years after the earthly time of Jesus. Can it not be said that perhaps the reason why the Temple need not be rebuilt is because its purpose in containing the Presence of God has been replaced by the presence of the Lord abiding in the humanity of Jesus, and the sacrifices of lambs which took place in the Temple at Passover time have been replaced by the most efficacious Sacrifice of the Lamb of God on the Cross.
By our linkage to Jesus, his Father and Spirit through Baptism, can have God’s special dwelling reside within us. St. Paul tells us that if we are in “ the State of Grace” we house the very presence of God and we should not do anything to expel that presence. Though God’s Grace we maintain that presence by living according to the Commandments which we hear recited in our first reading. When we comply with the graces of God and follow His Commandments, we too house God’s presence within us. God’s special presence housed in the humanity of Christ is extended to us to share in when we are living in God’s good graces. Lent is a time for us to ask ourselves how well we are housing the presence of God within us.
February 28, 2021
2nd SUNDAY OF LENT
In our readings and Gospel today, we see the relationship of father and son noted in each. It is a wonderful glimpse at the revelation of God to his people. God is not only God of all but Father to us all. Those who have borne the title of father, and lived its earthly vocation know the challenges in today’s culture. Most of us have a father either living or deceased and experienced the joy of such a relationship. As I grow older and my father now gone, it is even more important to hold on to the lessons he taught me. Life with a dad is not always a picnic as they are one of our first figures of authority. Their role to guide and protect us often conflicts with the naïve young person who thinks they know better. As I was growing up there were times when I thought dad does not understand my point of view or feelings. As I aged and eventually became a dad myself, I realized the wisdom that he held was so much greater than I gave him credit. Carrying the title of dad or mom for that matter is not an easy role. It requires consistency, faithfulness, and a complete reliance on God the Father! For our children, it is important to remember the role your parents played. Moms and dads share in the creative nature of God himself to bring about a new and miraculous life at the moment of conception. At that moment, the fate of all future generations of that child are left in the care of the parents.
Think about that for just one minute. If your great grandparents had made the choice to abort one of your grandparents, then not only would your parents not exist but neither would you, your siblings, and subsequent offspring. Generations of human lives are eliminated through a single decision. Are we good stewards of this responsibility? Once you have a child, they are the most important part of your world and you cannot imagine life without them. You give time, resources, and love to them without fail. You want to protect them from the dangers of the world and guide their decision making with wisdom. If our human parents sacrifice so much on our behalf, how much more has God done?In our first reading we see Abraham and Isaac who prefigure what God has planned for our own salvation. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son in obedience to God. Because of his faith God promised abundant blessings to Abraham and his descendants. God the Father however did sacrifice His son. Jesus obeyed His Father by accepting to be crucified for the benefit of all. No greater gift can be given from our Father in Heaven. You would think that such a perfect sacrifice would inspire others to follow the way of Christ. We live in a world that has forgotten Christ’s gift in many ways. We see violence and senseless crime. We see a world that has bloated itself with consumerism that has become insatiable. We see so many leave their faith for various reasons. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice can only be realized when we cooperate with his divine plan. We must live lives worthy of eternal salvation. We must live lives that reflect our thankfulness for our very existence.
You and I are made in the image of God himself! Sure, we look like our earthly parents, but our souls are made to live forever in the same nature as God. Are we good stewards of our souls? Do we allow God into them on a regular basis through the sacrament of reconciliation? Lent is a time of renewal. It is a time for us to cast our eyes on the perfect sacrifice and to emulate it. Are we willing to accept God’s plan even if it is painful for us? It is in these moments of sacrifice that our faith is perfected. God tells us in the Gospel, “This is my beloved Son, Listen to him”.What sacrifice has God requested of us to make for the sake of others? Have we willingly taken up our cross during challenging times or have we been angry at God when things do not go our way or a loved one is taken from us?
Our faith can only be perfected by the trials we face in union with God’s grace. This is not a road that can be traveled alone. Faith requires commitment to God’s will without exception. The key to faith is to accept the will of God whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. We do this because we trust in the Father that all will be made perfect in His time, not ours. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to protect his church and to provide an advocate for us. This is why our weekly sharing in this Eucharistic feast is vital for our own well being as a community of followers. Together we are called to assist each other as we journey through life’s challenges.
Trust in the Lord in the darkest moments of your life without question. Be grateful that he has placed these challenges before you, knowing that with His grace you can overcome them. Use this Lent as a time to turn to God and rely on him. I assure you he will never fail you. You may not always understand the journey you are on but there is a far greater purpose. God sent his son to be crucified for our sake and to suffer unimaginable pain on our behalf. Nothing that we will face can compare with his sacrifice. Even the death of our loved ones though quite painful are not eternal. We need to stop looking at what we have lost and begin looking at what awaits us. Each of these loved ones will be there waiting for you if you only believe and live like Christ. Be kind and loving to each other. Do not be afraid of the challenges in this world as they are temporal. Our goal is not to stay here but return to the Father at our designated time. May God open our hearts and minds this Lenten season to his immense love.
May God bless you.
January 31, 2021
4th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Probably every student remembering their school years has a favorite teacher. That is especially so when a student can look back to all the teachers they have ever experienced, say, over the high school period or over the period of higher education, if they went that far. By then, students have been exposed to a great number of teachers, and that makes it easy to make comparisons. The greatest teachers I have experienced in my years of education were also the toughest, but in spite of their toughness I realized that those teachers had a real interest in my development as a person and as a student. I appreciated that and tried to do the best I could so as not to disappoint them. Good teachers have a deep grasp of their subject material, and they wish to impart it. Their classes are demanding and their treatment of students marked by fairness. There’s no manipulating them. When one finishes the course of such a teacher, one knows that learning and development have taken place. That teacher has developed a part of the student’s educational formation which was not present when the course began, and years later, after the course is long-finished, the student remembers excellent teachers with a sense of gratitude and appreciation because of the formation they helped develop in the student. Who was your favorite teacher? And why does that teacher deserve such appreciation? I know and remember mine and are forever grateful for their influence in my life.
Our first reading has Moses speaking to his people and telling them that he is a prophet---a teacher, sent by God into their midst. What Moses has to impart is the message which God wants him to impart to His people. Moses is God’s spokesman, his teacher. Through Moses God’s people would learn of the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Law. Through Moses they would learn what God expected of them, and how they should live their lives in response to the Lord. A lot of what they learned from God through Moses is still relevant to God’s followers of today. You and I are such followers.
But Moses did not stop there in speaking of teachings and teachers who would be sent by God to them. This reading indicates that just as God had sent Moses as a teacher to his people, He would again send a future teacher, like Moses, to further teach his people, and His people are all of us. “ I will raise up for them a prophet like you [Moses] from among their kin, and I will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. Whoever does not listen to the words that he speaks in my name, I will make him answer for it. “ That predicted prophet-teacher is Jesus. Jesus came to build upon and to complete what God had taught through Moses and the other prophets. They laid the foundation; he made the completion. We hear of that teaching-authority recognized in our gospel reading when Jesus was teaching in a synagogue and his listeners were astonished by what they heard. The gospel says that Jesus taught them as one who had authority. Two times in this gospel Jesus is spoken about as a teacher who teaches with the authority of God, and I hope that each of us here in valuing all the teachers we have had values the teachings of Jesus and Jesus Himself as our greatest teacher in life. May we cherish the values, the interpretations of what life is ultimately about according to the teachings of Jesus.
There are many people in our present society who want to be our teachers. Some, not all, of them are false prophets. They want us to form our lives according to their designs and vision. They may wish us to become merely people who live in the present moment. People who value and promote what they value. They want us to become people who never think beyond this present life and are totally grounded to it. People who mirror the teachings and values of a secular society which has divorced itself from God. Their real intention is to build a world according to a totally secular vision.
If Christianity in each of us has any real value, we will not succumb to such teachings. Our responsorial psalm refrain today reminds us: “ If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. “ His voice and teachings have been resounding down through history for two thousand years, and have done a lot in the formation of the Western Tradition which many are seeking today to totally destroy. As His followers, let us first, last, and always harken to his teachings and view all other teachings through the prism of what He has taught us. Is Jesus your most important teacher?
January 17, 2021
2nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
“He must increase, I must decrease.” John 3:30
These powerful and prophetic words of St. John the Baptist should echo in our hearts every day. They help set the tone for all that we are and who we must become. What do these words mean? Clearly, there are two things that John says here: 1) Jesus must increase, 2) We must decrease. First of all, Jesus increasing in our lives is the primary goal we must have. What exactly does this mean? It means that He takes greater possession of our mind and will. It means He possesses us, and we possess Him. It means that our number one goal and desire in life is the fulfillment of His holy will in all things. It means that fear is cast aside, and charity becomes our reason for living. It is very freeing to allow the Lord to increase in our lives. It is freeing in the sense that we no longer have to try and manage on our own. Jesus now lives in and through us. Second, when John says that he must decrease, he means that his own will, desires, ambitions, hopes must dissolve as Jesus takes over. It means that all selfishness must be abandoned, and selfless living must be the founding principle of our lives. To “decrease” before God means we become humble. Humility is a way of giving up everything not of God and allowing only God to shine through.
John the Baptist displays this in a profound way in today’s Gospel. As Jesus passes by him and his disciples, John says see, The Lamb of God. Once again, we see John the Baptist pointing beyond himself. He must have known very well that to speak to his disciples about Jesus like that was to invite them to leave him and transfer their loyalty to this new and greater teacher and yet he did. There was no jealousy in John. His purpose was to attach the people to the Christ and not himself. There is no harder task than to put others ahead of our own personal desires and wants. It is in our human nature to look out for ourselves but is that not a flawed view? Like John, we as followers of Christ are called to place God and his teachings before all else in our world. I have watched our nation over my lifetime, tear itself apart in political battles as each struggle for power. Using the tools of high-tech companies, media and government as weapons has only increased the divide within our country and has alienated so many from civil public discourse. We are a country that has forgotten John’s message, where we must decrease so Christ may increase. Our focus now and forever, should be spreading the Gospel of our Lord to all the people. It is not going to be easy in a society that feels they no longer require God. We live in a society that seems to capitulate to the whims of extremists. We have seen the sanctity of human life trampled with 1.5M abortions in the first 3 weeks of 2021 worldwide. We have seen the family structure altered where children no longer learn about God in the home. We have seen the definition of marriage changed. We have seen some of our basic rights violated openly in a sweeping call against conservatism and religious freedom. Our ability to speak about God in the public arena has been considered offensive. A country that cares about nothing but itself is doomed to perish.
Like most of you, I am overwhelmed with the evil and pure hatred I see in our country and how it distorts our perspective. We have become a world focused on all of the wrong things, and nothing good will come of it. We see the devil in every aspect of our world, and he is gaining ground through the loss of so many souls to the sins of this world. Be not fooled by his trickery! He seeks to destroy us through our own humanity. So how do we reverse the tide of the epic failure in our world? We must decrease ourselves so that God may increase! Our focus must return to what lies ahead in the next world. So many of our leaders have lost sight of God and his message and one day they will face His judgment! None of us escapes death or eternal justice!
Since June of last year, I have been battling cancer and coupled with the pandemic has made the battle more difficult. My life consists of prayer, treatments, recovery, work, sleep and repeat. My prayers have never been about my personal healing, but instead God’s will. Like John, I am learning to decrease so that Jesus may increase through me. I pray the rosary every day and my favorite mystery is the Agony in the Garden. We hear Jesus speaking to God in St Matthew’s Gospel, he says “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will but as you will.” My suffering is not about me! It is about you and all of God’s children. Our suffering provides us a unique opportunity to share in the salvation of souls. Each of us is called to share in the cross of Christ, yet I see so many avoid it. What suffering are you called to accept this day? Have you surrendered your will to God? I do not pray for my own healing because I trust in my Father and his will. I pray for the wisdom to use this suffering to help others. Our time here is short, use it wisely and do not be distracted by the tempting of the evil one. I say this prayer and blessing now for all of you. Please bow your heads and pray for God’s mercy.
Jesus, in your time of greatest need, you felt most alone and yet remained faithful to our Heavenly Father. Please help us to accept suffering as you did. Lord, send your blessings upon your humble servants gathered here and across the world. Let your grace increase in us as we learn to decrease our vices in this world. May God Bless you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and keep each of you in His loving care. Amen.