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Long-suffering

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I'd like to reflect today on a small little autobiography I've read, rather a memoir, about Mother Teresa entitled “Something Beautiful For God: The Classic Account of Mother Teresa’s Journey Into Compassion” by Malcolm Muggeridge. It was published in 1974, which was important to know while reading the book. Mother was just starting to expand her charity outside the streets of Calcutta at that time. Her mission was just starting to grow. Similar to the daily readings this week. The Good News is starting to spread. Collections of the faithful are starting to take root in the cities where the apostles/disciples teach. Each small group is sharing all they have with one another as they bring people into knowing, loving, and serving Jesus. You are all doing that in your own homes right now. The Church couldn’t be stronger, in my humble opinion. Why? Because we are suffering. Long-suffering is a fruit of the Holy Spirit – it is evidence that God is alive. Suffering is meant to foster a dependence upon God. We continue to feel deeply for those around us. If we didn’t feel deeply, then that means that “we retreated so far into our egos and our flesh, put between us and Him so wide a chasm, that our separation became inexorable” (p132). We care. A lot. What we do matters, deeply. Mother Teresa lived this to her core. This is why she saw everything she did as an offering, something beautiful for God, to turn suffering into joy.

I asked our students who their favorite superhero is. Mother Teresa is certainly one of my superheroes. Her model of vocation, tenacity, compassion, and suffering turned inside out is something I strive for. While I know the poverty she encountered every day is foreign to my own experience, she reminds me that poverty exists in many forms. It is where and how we meet poverty that is the love of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I am feeling things rather deeply at this moment. A sense of helplessness that I am unable to correct despite my efforts. It is a feeling that I am not unfamiliar with but results in a level of suffering. As my superhero demonstrates, connecting to God is what helps the most. Pray. Pray unceasingly. Pray that we learn what the Lord is teaching us and never to forget the lesson.

The Chair of St. Peter

When my family and I vacationed in Italy, it was one of the best experiences of our lives. The highlight of our trip was visiting Rome and attending Sunday Mass at St. Peter's Basilica. In the basilica there is a huge altar honoring the Chair of St. Peter. Breathtaking!

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter in February. It brings to my mind the lineage of the popes through the ages who have led the people of God, focusing on the mission of Christ who came not to abolish the law of the prophets, but to fulfill them. It makes me think of how popes have struggled through conflict, indeed--sin, some not so successfully, to Christ's vision of a more sincere, more perfect fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.

In His continuation of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord's message to us is ultimately that of love - to be reconciled to your neighbor - to respect your brothers and sisters. 

Let's be mindful of the legacy that the popes have left us - to fulfill the Law and the Prophets more perfectly through Christ's command to love one another. St. Peter, pray for us!

We Are All Children of God

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Hindsight is always 20/20. As we look back on history, knowing that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, along with 2,000 years of theological study, the Sadducees can seem a little silly. Yet during Jesus time there was a belief about who the Messiah would be and what he would accomplish. This Jesus didn’t look much like the warrior king that would return Israel to its previous glory. From the Sadducees perspective they needed to discredit this impostor as soon as possible. They devised a plan. They came up with a seemingly impossible and absurd scenario. A woman had married, and before she could have a child, her husband died, so she married her brother-in-law as prescribed by the law. This happened to her not once but seven times. If there were a resurrection how absurd would it be to simultaneously be married to seven men?

How does Jesus respond? He says we are all children of God. There is no need for marriage as a type of estate planning. While that was important in this life it has no meaning in heaven. Instead, we are more like angels and will have eternal life with and in God. In fact to God we have never died. Jesus knows of his upcoming death and resurrection and he also knows that we too, by virtue of our baptism, will rise with him to eternal life. This is the good news! This is the kingdom Jesus has come to create, where everyone has come from God and everyone must return to God. A kingdom of love and mercy vs a kingdom of earthly power and exclusion. A kingdom that somehow exists in our world today but in an imperfect way. It is the kingdom that is tangibly present to us in all the sacraments, particularly in the Eucharist. This, is the resurrection we live for, a life with the Holy Trinity, the communion of Saints and the heavenly host for eternity.

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