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Following Jesus

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In the Gospel of Mark 10:17-27, we hear a story that often challenges me. We meet a young man who has always been a good person, asks what he must do to enter Heaven, and Jesus tells him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  

You are lacking one thing. I know most days, I have more than one thing standing between me and following Jesus with my whole heart. 

Jesus goes on to invite the young man to “come, follow me” but instead of leaving his nets like Peter and Andrew when Jesus called them, this man goes away sad, because he has many possessions he does not want to give away. He is the only person in the Gospels who does not drop everything when Jesus says, “follow me.” Most days I am more like this young man than I am like the disciples, hesitant or closed off when Jesus says: “follow me; come serve your neighbor, come embrace an uncomfortable conversation or task.” Each time I sin, I choose not to follow Jesus.  

The disciples ask an important question after this interaction, “Then who can be saved?” and Jesus so gently responds: “For human beings
it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” I do not have to make myself perfect, but I can try each day to say “yes” in following Christ again. 

Our Blessed Mother

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Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, Hail, Our Life, Our Sweetness and Our Hope!

My parents had a routine during their retirement to pray the Rosary daily. Sometimes they’d pray together and sometimes not, but they did almost every day. My mother had a very strong devotion to the Blessed Mother, probably because she lost her own mother at a very young age. As the mother of 6 boys, she probably figured she needed all the help she could get! We see Mary as the model disciple. Though we find it difficult at times to follow her example of “fiat” unconditionally, she is the ultimate goal of discipleship. Mary had difficulties in her life, but she carried her daily crosses without bitterness or anger, and she carried them, as did her Son, with great faith in the Father. Let our focus be to become just a little bit more like Mary, to say yes to the will of the Father in our lives, and model her discipleship, even if it is in the smallest of ways. 

O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria, pray for us!

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.

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