Saturday, June 30, 2018

7/1/18 -- 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Dads roughhousing with their young children is crucially important in the early development of kids. 

Australian researchers concluded that rough and tumble play between fathers and their young children is part of their development, shaping a child’s brain so that they are able to manage emotions and thinking and physical action together.

Mothers, on the other hand, take on a more tender and soothing and nurturing role. They hug and kiss and sing and make things better when they go wrong.

Touch is so crucial between parents and children. Think about an infant reaching out to grab the finger of a parent or grandparent or older sibling, discovering touch for the first time. 

Friends hold hands and hug and let their shoulders touch. Sports players fist bump and huddle and swat each other on the backside. Lovers kiss and caress.

Our Catholic church has long recognized the important of touch. 

In Baptism, the priest signs the child with the sign of the cross, he lays hands on the child while praying silently, he anoints the child’s head with Sacred Chrism, and touches the mouth and the ears so that they are open.

In the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, the couple holds hands while they are exchanging their sacred vows. And the priest lays hands of them as he blesses their marriage.

In the ordination of men to the priesthood, the bishop and all the priests lay their hands on the forehead of the one being ordained.

And in the Anointing of the Sick, the priest lays his hands on the sick person asking for the healing power of Jesus to bring comfort.

In the gospel, Jesus is touched by the old woman and she is healed. In the gospel, Jesus touches the young girl and she is healed.

Touch is vital. Touch is necessary. Touch brings comfort, Touch brings healing. Touch expresses love and affection.

We need to seek to touch Jesus for healing. We need to ask Jesus to touch us and heal us.

In the way that dads roughhousing with their young children is vital to their early childhood development, Jesus’ touch in our lives is vital to our spiritual development and well being.

Jesus took the child by the hand and said to her, “Little girl arise.” And immediately the girl arose. The people were astonished.

So we beg Jesus to come to us and touch us and astonish us. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

6/17/18 -- 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

The crepe myrtles in our church square have gone through a few tough years. It seems they were infected with tiny insects that cause a whitish gray bark scale.

We became aware of the problem last summer and have taken steps to help our trees and shrubs become healthier. We have also begun paying closer attention to caring for all the trees on our beautiful square.

We can plant those trees and shrubs and flowers. We can fertilize them. We can water them. We can prune them. But we cannot make them grow. We cannot make them bloom.

God makes things grow. God makes things bloom. God makes things spring to new life. The same is true of the crops in our fields. 

The farmers can till the soil. The farmers can plant the seeds. The farmers can fertilize. And the farmers can harvest. But those farmers cannot make those crops grow. Only God can.

So as we set out on our spiritual renewal, we must look to the things we can do. And leave the things we cannot do to God.

We can sow the seeds. But what kinds of seeds are we sowing. Are we sowing seeds of love and kindness? Seeds of generosity? Seeds of care and concern? Seeds of forgiveness and mercy?

This takes willpower. We have to want to do these things. We can and should be sowing good seeds.

We can nurture what was planted. We can water and fertilize and prune. This takes work. We have to work at these things.

We can and should be taking good care of our bodies: Proper diet. Exercise. The right amount of sleep. 

We can and should be taking good care of our souls: Spiritual readings. Quiet prayer. Spiritual direction. Retreats. Regular confessions.

We can harvest what is ripe. We can enjoy the fruits of our labor: The good fruit that comes from sowing good seeds. The ripe grain that comes from nurturing what was sown.

We can be nourished by the Eucharist where Jesus gives us his body and blood as a rich harvest for our souls.

We can enjoy our lives and our loved one as a result of all our hard work taking good care of our bodies and souls. Because we have done what we can, God can do what God does. 

Just like we are making an effort to take care of our crepe myrtles, we should be making an effort to take care of our souls, because our souls are certainly a far greater treasure than our crepe myrtles.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

6/3/18 -- Corpus Christi

Scripture Readings

On a recent episode of Code Black, a doctor and an EMT were kidnapped while responding to a 911 call. 

The kidnapper wanted them to treat his girlfriend who was shot during a robbery that went bad. He pointed a gun at them and demanded that they “fix” her. 

In an attempt to foil the kidnapping they told the gunman that they needed to make an incision to check if the lung was inflating properly. They warned him that the incision would cause a lot of bleeding. 

Then they told the kidnapper that his girlfriend would need a blood infusion or she would bleed to death. While allowing the woman to bleed out, they pretended to check everyone’s blood type.

The kidnapper was informed that both he and his girlfriend shared a rare blood type and he was the only one who could save her. 

They began what the kidnapper thought was a blood transfusion, but they were actually allowing him to bleed out slowly only pretending to be transfusing the blood. 

Once he was weakened by the loss of blood, the doctor tackled him and the kidnapping was over.

The blood flowing through our arteries and veins gives us life. We need it to survive. It is absolutely necessary. Hospitals rely on the donated blood of good samaritans to save patients every day.

Even the people of the Old Testament realized the importance of blood. They sacrificed goats and calves offering the blood to the Lord as a sign of the covenant.

Moses sprinkled it on the people saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.”

Jesus, at the Last Supper, offers his blood to replace the blood of these sacrificed animals. “This is the blood of the covenant which will be shed for many.”

Jesus’ blood was shed for you and for me. Just as the kidnapper offered his own blood to save his partner in crime, Jesus offer his blood to save us.

At this Mass I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. In response to this offering of a cup of wine, the Lord will change the cup of wine into the Blood of Christ.

The Blood of Christ is given to us to transform us. It is absolutely necessary for us to live. 

Without Jesus’ blood poured out on us, we would lose our way. We would get lost in the darkness of sin and despair.

So as we approach the table of the Lord on this feast of Corpus Christi, we receive the Precious Body and Blood of Christ in the form of a communion wafer as a sign of the new and everlasting covenant sealed with Jesus’ blood, poured out so that we might live.