Today we remember Mary's trip from the town of Nazareth to a town in the neighborhood of Jerusalem. Mary is probably in her early teens. She is pregnant. The distance is about ninety miles. Call to mind a town that is ninety miles from where you live. Now, you can't travel by car or by bus. No you have to walk. Probably will take you four our five days if you can walk 20 miles a day.
Here is a saint that EVERYONE knows. Hers is a remarkable story full of meaning. It is not just straight forward but one of many angles and shades which makes it so rich and thoughtful.
"Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 44-45)
You know there’s nothing very ordinary about God’s time. WE’RE the ones who attach this boring name to all of the year other than Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter, simply because the weeks are NUMBERED and therefore ORDERED. We know very well that GOD’S time and God’s TIMING are far from boring and ordinary!
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to 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.”
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions."
“… we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…
the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5: 5)
Feeling weak, feeling inferior is something we all can relate to. Sometimes that negative feeling touches us in fleeting moments. And sometimes it gets entrenched in our thinking and colors most of our life.
Pope John Paul II beatified and canonized more people than any Pope in history. He appreciated that these Catholic Heroes come in all shapes a sizes; that the communion of Saints is made up of lay people, Clerics, men and women religious and a unique nun or two. Today we celebrate one of those individuals recognized by the late Pontiff.
The Lord our God is a God of love, but he is also a Holy and Righteous God of Justice.
Let me paint this picture for you: Can you imagine a Friendly Chief of Police who caught you speeding, day after day down the same street. You apologize to him and he lets you go, once, twice, three times.
"Great peace have they who love your law, O Lord" (Ps. 119:165a).
Do good and avoid evil is a universal law written in the hearts of all, regardless of the time and religious affiliation. For the Lord, doing good actually means becoming more like Him. It means purification, conversion and imitation. It means allowing the Lord to repair my heart so that I can imitate His heart. Two hearts beating as one.
“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” (Mark 9: 35)
When we communicate with God, after we've put before him our list is needs and perhaps asked for his forgiveness for our sins, we do well to admit that we are in awe of Him. We need to acknowledge the depth of who he is as seen in his creation.
"And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim." (Acts 2:1-4)
“The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven. His eyes behold, his searching glance is on mankind.”
(Psalm 11: 4)
This Gospel passage from John is Christian community at its best!---intimate, honest, gently chiding, mutually challenging, always helping each other reach for DEEPER clarity of commitment and purity of intention.
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me,
and that you loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17: 20-23)
“Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth” (JN 17: 18-19)
Do you sometimes feel alone in this world? Do you feel that you struggle in a world where there seems to be so much darkness and pain? As human beings these can all be natural feelings especially when one is trying to lead a life of holiness.
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells his disciples that he had come to do the Father’s will. He had now accomplished his mission. Everything has gone according to the Father’s plan. He had to suffer, he had to die and on the third day rise again. In His name repentance and forgiveness of sins has to be preached to all nations till the ends of the earth. Yes, his mission is accomplished but theirs is just beginning.
In today’s first reading, we hear of Apollos from Alexandria. It says he is an eloquent speaker….an “authority on the Scriptures.” He was a well known teacher with many followers. He taught accurately about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. So when he began to teach, two women – Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and explained to him the Way of God more accurately.”
But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him to the tribunal, saying, “This man is inducing people to worship God contrary to the law.” (Acts 18:12-13)
"Jesus said to his disciples:
“A little while and you will no longer see me,
and again a little while later and you will see me.” (John 16:16)
In today’s reading from Acts, Paul is speaking to the Athenaians. Among the many shrines they had dedicated to various gods, Paul had come across one that was addressed to an unknown God. I think this is a good way to sum up every individual.
Meet Cornelius: ONE account says he’s that Roman soldier thrusting his sword into Christ’s side at the crucifixion.
Meet Cornelius AGAIN: He’s an enthusiastic Christian disciple---he and all his family, their gratitude spilling over with utmost confidence in Christ’s resurrection.