Pastor's Pen, 8th Regular Sunday

I’ve been thinking these days of faith.  In this week’s Gospel Jesus in fact asks if his followers were “of little faith?”  Throughout the Gospels we hear Jesus speaking of faith as part of one’s miraculous healing, of having enough faith to command a mountain to move, or of a lack of faith in his disciples, when they would question him.  And so the question then is about what does Jesus mean when he speaks of faith in this way?  

Certainly, on the one hand it is what we think, that is, a belief in him and the Father and the Spirit.  How then do we express or realize this faith in God?  What comes to our mind are perhaps expressions of faith, in prayer, sacramental participation and in service.  I think at its core it is about “nothingness,” as St. John of the Cross wrote.  “Nothingness” is not about nothing (I know, triple negative!), rather it is about emptying.  Emptying is not emptiness.

My own experience in my relationship with God is that there are a whole bunch of things that I give importance, emphasis, and priority to, so much so that they distract me from keeping my eyes on the prize, God.  Jesus says don’t be anxious about the future, focus on today and, Jesus says not to give priority to comfort or wealth rather than God.  These things, and many other things in each of our lives, can sometimes be distractions that take our eyes and hearts away from God.  Emptying ourselves is about making room within our hearts for the one we love.  We all know what it is to love another person and how important and central they become to our lives.

In a similar way our vocation as a Christian is a vocation to be lovers of God.  And as lovers of God, we seek to make room for this central person within our lives.  Do we not love him more than the anxieties or the fears or the uncertainties that we cling to?  Paul says that it’s not for us to judge ourselves or others, that it is the Lord who judges.  And the judge we have is a God of mercy.  And so these things in our lives that might provide security and an identity absolutely fail in truly revealing who we are.  Isaiah wrote, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?  Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

And so we have it.  Though there are times in which we may feel alone, we are not alone.  God is with us.  Though there are times in which we may feel unloved, we are not unloved.  God is in love with us.  Though there are times in which we may feel over-burdened by the difficulties of life, we do not carry the burden ourselves.  The Lord walks in our footsteps, he carries the burden with us.  Jesus asks, “are the birds of the air not cared for, are the lilies of the field not able to grow and be beautiful?”  Of course they are.  And the value of some birds or some flowers is incomparable to the value of each person.

The Lord did not give his very self to the sparrow, he gave it to you and for you.  In a way we stand at a fork in the road.  One path is a collection of things and activities from which we may derive a public identity.  On the other path, in a sense there is nothingness, nothing except love.  And so we know that we want to be empty, so that our hearts may overflow.  There is only one thing that most truly want – we want to be in love.

Let us put down the things that limit our life and let us embrace the one who gives life.  Let us seek to be empty, so that we may be filled.  

God Bless; Take Care!  

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Parish Bulletin, for the 8th Regular Sunday313.33 KB

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