Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pope Francis Gets It

Over 3 million gather in Brazil to hear
Pope Francis (AP image)
I grow more in awe of our "new" Pope every week. 

To be honest, I was hooked from minute #1, when he chose the name Francis and asked us to pray for him.

My admiration grew as I heard that he stopped his motorcade to kiss a baby, took the bus instead of the limousine, and paid his own hotel bill.   

Then came Holy Thursday.  I remember stopping dead in my tracks when I heard he spent that day at a juvenile detention center.  This is someone who is going to teach us by example, I kept saying to myself.

My admiration is now at an almost-fanatical stage as I read what he told millions of people in Brazil yesterday:

"At times we lose people because they don't understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity," he said, "Without the grammar of simplicity the church loses the very conditions which make it possible to fish for God in the deep waters of His mystery."

He gets it.  

All my Catholic life I have been frustrated with the intellectualism of our Faith.  So many religious documents can barely be understood by the most learned, so many classes taught as if the students were Theological doctorates, and so many homilies preached as if the audience were only Cardinals.   

What was missing in all of them was a connection.  And to state the obvious, people tend to hang around with principles and people they understand and connect with.  

Often times, that connection begins with simplicity.  

After all, Jesus didn't use some sophisticated language when he preached to those around Him.  His preferred method was the memorable parable.  

Pope Francis gets that.

I pray that he continues to dazzle us with simplicity in message and action, and that his example converts millions to (and back to) our Faith. 

God Bless.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The 100th Time I Heard Martha and Mary

Martha and Mary.

Heard it for what must be the hundredth time in today's Gospel.  

The first ninety-nine times I asked what on earth Martha must have been thinking ... fussing about such trivial matters while Jesus was right there in her midst.  

The one-hundredth time I realized I was her.

God Bless.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Samaritans Through They Eyes of a Child

Today's gospel about the Good Samaritan is probably one of the most famous stories Jesus ever told.  Heck, even the term "Good Samaritan" is still used in our vernacular today. 

I remember hearing the story as a child, and thinking the lesson was so simple.  "The third guy is good, because he assisted someone who needed help," I would tell my Catechism teacher.

It was quite simple, and there were no other lessons. It didn't matter if the people in the story were black, white, named Raman or Sue.  A person was in need, and a good person helped him.  Just the way Jesus would want us to live.

As I got older, I remember how smart I felt when I learned all the nuances in the story.  That the road to Jericho was dangerous and filled with bandits. That the priest and Levite probably didn't help the Samaritan because they were worried about their own safety or purity.  That Samaritans and Jews despised each other.  

Now when I explain this story to someone, I go on and on about these intricate details.  And I use modern day examples like Sunnis and Shiites (or some cultures and Americans) to explain the shock value Jesus used.

Hearing the story today, though, made me wonder if I over complicate things as I get "smarter".  I thought about 6 year-old me, and that maybe it is best to strip away all the noise and focus on the most important point (one we still struggle with today):

If someone is in need, we, as Christians, are to help them.  Not to think about whether they really need help, or how it might affect us, or what race they are.   

Just help.

Lord knows there are enough people out there that need it.

God Bless you.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

With Blessed Joseph, Her Spouse

Did you know that on June 19, a decree was announced, granting priests permission to add Joseph to the Eucharistic Prayer?

In Eucharistic Prayer II, for example, you may now hear:

"... with the most Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God,
with Blessed Joseph, her spouse, with the Blessed Apostles..."

Ironically, both of our current Popes have bonds to St. Joseph.  

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's was, of course, baptized Joseph Ratzinger.

And Pope Francis, as we fondly remember, chose The Solemnity of St. Joseph as the date for his inaugural Mass.  He also has a spikenard, a symbol of St. Joseph, on his coat-of-arms.

O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

God Bless.