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You Can't Quantify Love

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As a young man, I often found myself intrigued by words. In particular, there was one word that stood out to me the most - my name: Francis. I would ask my grandparents why I was given this name and what was significant about it. Frequently, they would respond that I was not old enough to understand the importance of it. As I grew, I would come into an understanding about my namesake: St. Francis of Assisi.

Since learning this, I have often looked to him as someone who truly understood what it means to live poorly. But let me be clear: just because he had a simple life, did not mean he was poor. On the contrary, St. Francis was truly a man who was rich in the love of God - which is something that cannot be quantified.

In our modern day, we often equate success with people who have the best or newest things because we can see what they have and assume they must be living a great life. Yet, society has a habit of scorning those who strive to be pure, dedicated to their faith, and constantly seeking a relationship with God. This is because a relationship with God is not something we can, in fact, quantify. Rather, it is something that we can feel and rely upon even in our most needy of moments.

We must seek God and grow our love and trust in Him. For God is truly all around us, as St. Francis points out in his Canticle of Creation, whether it be in the Sun, the Moon, the Fire, or even in Death. God is always with us. His love knows no bounds, and is not something we can quantify. Be like St. Francis: find God and grow in His life all around you. 

Who Seeks Whom?

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About 13 years ago, my wife and I were separated and I was raising teenage and preteen daughters. I was diligently seeking to know the faith that I had learned as a young boy, a seven-year-old boy to be exact, and I was succeeding. I had encountered God in some amazing ways, but I was still driving the boat so to speak. I was in control, seeking Him in the best way I knew how, which was admittedly simple but also effective. 

My son Matt had just returned after a year and a half as a volunteer at an orphanage in Miacatlán, Mexico. I was so happy to have him home. It was great to have an older child home to discuss matters of the day with, to talk sports, to just be with. Skype was great, but this was much better. I was certain that God had sent him to be with me as another sign of just how much he loved me, and that certainly was true, but there was much more.

A few years later on the Feast of the Epiphany, as I was leaving St. Dominic driving down Parish Drive, I realized that more had occurred when Matt came home than God showing me he loved me. I had an epiphany of my own. In a lighting bolt type moment, I realized that God was seeking me.  That God had always been seeking me. That he not only was seeking me, but he was seeking everyone else as well, and my job was simply to let Him find me. Sure, I needed to seek, but the heavy lifting was being done by a God who loves beyond measure.

From that day, I began a journey of allowing God to find me. Sure, I continually tried to take control, but each time I had to relinquish it. I am the beloved, the one the father seeks out. I am not the initiator. The journey continues. My God loves me(us), he loves all of us so much that he seeks each one of us out. Just like the Shepherd and the lost sheep. Best of all, He will not rest until he finds us.

 

Our Superhero

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Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe! This sounds like a title for a superhero.  Jesus is our superhero!  In Dn. 7:1314, powerful language and strong adjectives are used that demonstrates a power and majesty that one would expect from a superhero:

As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;  all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.

In Revelations 1:5-8, Jesus is describe as "the faithful witness.” Being a faithful witness implies that He is not forefront and dominant but more supportive. In John 18:33-37, Jesus is shown as powerful and confident, but completely humble. There is a contrast to Jesus that challenges what it means to be a superhero by modern standards. Jesus doesn’t fight. Jesus doesn’t boast. Jesus doesn’t argue. Fighting, boasting, and arguing are all things that we would expect a superhero to do when confronting an enemy. We would expect a superhero to fight back against the tyranny and misguided justice being demonstrated at this point in the story.

Not our superhero! Jesus does exactly what He has taught us to do. He models surrender. He models dignity. He models integrity. Jesus participates in His trial, taking in stride all that He is being subjected to because He knows it is the will of the Father. He rises to the occasion in a manner that results in a much greater reward than what would have occurred had He fought back. He exudes a power and might beyond human understanding. Indeed, He did fight back by subjecting Himself to the wood of the cross. His defense was to succumb, thus dominate over all. Death gained reward, a reward of eternal life for all who believe in Him. Isn’t that what a superhero does, lays down their life to save others? Let’s give a triumphant cheer for Jesus Christ, King of the Universe!

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe! The feast day today sounds like the introduction for a superhero.  Jesus is our superhero, especially when watching the progression of how He is described from the first reading, to the second reading, to the gospel. The first reading uses very powerful language and strong adjectives that demonstrates a power and majesty that one would expect from a superhero:

As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;  all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.

The second reading starts to change the tone a little. While it references phrases from the first reading, the lead sentence, “Jesus Christ is the faithful witness,” shifts perspective. No longer is the Son of Man exuding power as we would expect from a superhero, but more of the humility that is indicative of the sidekick.  Being a faithful witness implies that He is not forefront and dominant but more supportive. This is a curious shift as the Gospel then shows Jesus powerful and confident, but completely humble. There is a contrast to Jesus that challenges what it means to be a superhero by modern standards. Jesus doesn’t fight. Jesus doesn’t boast. Jesus doesn’t argue. Fighting, boasting, and arguing are all things that we would expect a superhero to do when confronting an enemy. We would expect a superhero to fight back against the tyranny and misguided justice being demonstrated at this point in the story.

Not our superhero! Jesus does exactly what He has taught us to do. He models surrender. He models dignity. He models integrity. Jesus participates in His trial, taking in stride all that He is being subjected to because He knows it is the will of the Father. He rises to the occasion in a manner that results in a much greater reward than what would have occurred had He fought back. He exudes a power and might beyond human understanding. Indeed, He did fight back by subjecting Himself to the wood of the cross. His defense was to succumb, thus dominate over all. Death gained reward, a reward of eternal life for all who believe in Him. Isn’t that what a superhero does, lays down their life to save others? Let’s give a triumphant cheer for Jesus Christ, King of the Universe!

 

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