Pat Mulcahy

Catholic Priest, Fitness Boxer, Home Cook/BBQ/Baker, Child of God
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Today’s readings Sunday, April 14, 2024

Two weeks ago today, we celebrated Easter, the great feast of our salvation, when Christ rose victorious over sin and death.  Today, two weeks later, the question is, “So now what?”

In today’s Liturgy of the Word, three different audiences hear the same message.  In the first reading, Peter is speaking to a Jewish audience.  This audience has just witnessed Peter and John stopping at the Temple Gate to cure a crippled man in the Name of Jesus.  These folks were used to seeing the man crippled, and for them, in that culture, at that time, being crippled meant that his life was steeped in sin.  So seeing the man cured meant also that his sins were wiped away.  The reading we have from Acts today follows that story and in it, Peter teaches that audience about the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection and exhorts them to repent and be converted, in order that their sins, too, might be wiped away.

In the second reading, John is writing to his community, obviously an audience of Christians.  In that letter, John exhorts the community to avoid committing sin and to keep God’s commandments.  But because he knows that we are all weak human beings, he knows that sin happens, and so he encourages them by reminding them of Jesus Christ the righteous one, who is our expiation, who wipes away sin.

In the Gospel, the audience is the disciples.  Jesus enters their midst and they are terrified, thinking they’ve seen a ghost.  After inviting them to touch him and after eating some cooked fish to let them know that he is not a ghost, but a real person, Jesus opens their minds so that they can understand all of the Scriptures that prophesied about his life and ministry.  He then encourages them to go out and preach repentance so that people’s sins might be wiped away.

It almost sounds like a Lenten message, doesn’t it?  All of the readings speak of sin.  But the difference here is that all of the readings speak of sin wiped away.  And all of the readings speak of that wiping away coming about through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Through the Paschal Mystery, the blackboards of our lives are wiped clean so that a new story, free from the effects of sin and death, can be written about us in the Name of Jesus Christ.

So, probably most of us undertook some form or forms of penance for Lent. We gave something up, gave money to the poor, spent more or more quality time in prayer, those kinds of things. And that’s great; those penitential practices helped to prepare us for the joy of Easter.  During Easter, though, we quite rightly replace all the penance and fasting with joy and feasting. 

But we definitely shouldn’t give up reforming our lives for Easter.  Because the “so now what?” of Easter is that we truly believe things have really changed.  We believe that Jesus Christ died a cruel death and rose gloriously triumphant over that death.  We believe that His death and resurrection repaired our broken relationship with God and allowed us to experience the joy of salvation.  We believe that the Paschal Mystery is what makes it possible for us to live one day with God in heaven.  None of that was possible before Easter.

So I think we should continue to reform our lives during Easter, perhaps by continuing some of our Lenten practices, or maybe even better, by building on them.  Because the idea is to not return to our old patterns of sin.  If the things we gave up were obstacles to living a life guided by Christ in the Holy Spirit and obstacles to living in community with others, we shouldn’t be so quick to go back to them.  If the works of charity, service and almsgiving we did helped us to be more aware of our many blessings and more aware of the needs of others, maybe we should look for ways to continue to grow in those virtues.  If our new practices of prayer helped us to grow closer to God and nourished our spiritual lives, maybe we should make room for that kind of prayer more often than just during Lent.  Because with the blackboards of our lives wiped clean of sin, we don’t want to go back and write the same old story

So what is the story that we should be writing on those clean slates?  The Gospel tells us today: the story of the God’s forgiveness.  That story goes something like this:  Like the people in the first reading, we are called to live reformed lives.  Like the people in the second reading, we must be obedient to God’s command of love.  And like the disciples in the Gospel reading, we are called to go out and preach forgiveness of sins.

So for all of us, preaching forgiveness is going to look different. It’s going to mean putting faith into action. That might mean working to put aside the petty family squabbles, or even the significant family squabbles, that divide us.  That might mean forgetting the hurts and the offenses we’ve endured so that we can repair our families and communities.  It might mean that we are the ones who make the phone call to a friend even when we’ve done that a hundred times and they’ve seem to have lost our phone number.  Perhaps it even means swallowing our own pride and asking for forgiveness for something that wasn’t entirely our fault.  Forgiveness of sins is preached by the Church – which, brothers and sisters in Christ, is all of us – living forgiveness day in and day out.

Two weeks ago today, we celebrated Easter, the great feast of our salvation, when Christ rose victorious over sin and death.  Today, two weeks later, the question is, “So now what?”  After today’s Liturgy of the Word, I think we all know the answer to that question.  The new question is, will we do it?

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Today’s readings Homily for Monday, April 8, 2024

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Today, we celebrate one of the most important feasts on the Church calendar. Without the Annunciation, there could never have been a Christmas. Without the Annunciation, there never could have been a Good Friday or an Easter. The faithfulness of Mary, especially as a very young girl, has to be an inspiration for our own life of faith. Mary had no roadmap or big-picture view of how this would come about, yet she is full of grace and so she is very firm in her fiat – her decision to exercise her faith: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

I should note here that this feast is on the Church calendar for March 25th, nine months to the day before the birth of Jesus. But because that fell during Holy Week this year, the feast still gets celebrated – it’s that important – but it gets pushed down the road a bit to the first day after the Easter Octave, today.

We too are called to Mary’s of faith, because surely the glory of God is aching to be born in all of us. We are called to bring Christ's presence to every corner of our world, every place where we are. The prospects of that can be scary, because we too don't know what the implications of God's work in us will be. We may be called upon to feed the hungry, or clothe the naked, or visit the sick, or shelter the homeless, or any of the other corporal works of mercy. But do we have the personal resources to do that? Maybe not, but we are called to be Christ in those situations anyway. We might respond as Mary did at first: “How can this be?” But ultimately, we are called to respond that we are the Lord's handmaids and accept the call with great faith.

Mary is our patron whenever we feel overwhelmed by the task. May we rely on her intercession to guide us through the dark pathways of the unknown. May we look to her for an example of faith. May we follow her great example and let the Lord be born in us too, so that our Incarnate Lord can be made manifest in our world yet again. May we, like Mary, cry out in faith, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Pray for us, o holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

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Today’s readings

I always like to say that today, this octave day of Easter Sunday, this Sunday of Divine Mercy, is the feast day for those of us who sometimes question things, and the apostle, Saint Thomas, is would then be our patron saint.  Sometimes we give poor Saint Thomas a hard time for his unbelief, and we can disparage all those other “doubting Thomases” in our lives.  But maybe we today can just come to the Lord in our humility and say “My Lord and my God!”  Today, we celebrate with all the joy of Easter Day that God’s Divine Mercy reaches us in our doubt and uncertainty and calls us to belief.

Now, I’m sure we can all think of at least one time when we were reluctant to believe something, or had our faith tested, only to have Jesus stand before us and say, “Peace be with you.”  I remember the time that it became apparent to me that the Lord was calling me to go to seminary after so many years being out of school.  I had a long list of reasons why that wouldn’t work, why it couldn’t be done at this stage of my life, why anyone would be a better choice than me.  And I never got a direct answer to any of that.  Never.  In some ways, all I got was Jesus standing in the midst of my questioning and saying to me “Peace be with you.”  And six months later I was in seminary.  Letting Jesus fill you with peace can be life-changing.

I am going to guess that you had that same kind of experience at some point in your life, at some time.  If not, you will.  Maybe it was in college when you started really questioning your faith and felt like everything anyone had ever told you was a lie.  Or maybe it was the time you were called to do something at Church, or even take a turn in your career, and couldn’t possibly believe that you were qualified to do that.  Maybe it was the time it suddenly dawned on you that you were going to be a parent, and had no idea how you could ever raise a child.  It could even have been the time when you completely changed your career – as I did – and weren’t totally sure that was God’s will for you, or how it would all work out.  Some time in our life, we have to take a leap of faith, or if we don’t, we will spend our forever wondering “what if.”

Sure: like Saint Thomas, we want evidence, we want hard facts, a good hard look at the big picture, something that will confirm our decision before we’re ready to jump in.  We want to “see the mark of the nails in his hands and … put [our] hands into his side.”  But that’s not faith.  Some people say that seeing is believing, but faith tells us that believing is seeing.  “Blessed are they,” Jesus says, “who have not seen but still believe.”  We sometimes first have to make an act of faith, a leap of faith if you will, before we can really see what God is doing in our lives.  And that’s the hard part; that’s the part that, like Thomas, we are reluctant to do.

Jesus makes three invitations to us today.  The first is to believe.  Believe with all your heart and mind and soul.  Believe first, and leave the seeing to later.  Trust that God is with you, walking with you, guiding you, willing the best for you.  This is Divine Mercy Sunday, so we are called to trust in our merciful God who pours out his love on us each day. Even though we don’t deserve it. Even though we haven’t earned it.  Be ready to make that leap of faith.  What God has in store for us is so much better than our little plans for our lives.  We have to know that if God calls us to do something, he will give us what we need to do it.  Be blessed by not seeing but still believing.

The second invitation is to touch.  “Put your finger here and see my hands,” Jesus says to Thomas, “and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  He makes that same invitation to us every time we walk up to receive Holy Communion.  What a gift it is to be able to share in Christ’s wounds, to be bound up in his Passion, to live the resurrection and to be nourished by his very body and blood.  Just like Thomas, we’re invited to touch so that we too might believe.

The third invitation is to live a new day.  The Gospel tells us that Jesus first came to the Apostles on the evening of the “first day of the week.”  That detail isn’t there so that we know what day it is or can mark our calendars.  In the Gospel, the “first day of the week” refers to the new day that Jesus is bringing about – a new day of faith, a new day of trust in God’s Divine Mercy, a new day of being caught up in God’s life.  We are invited to that new day every time we gather for worship.

We will have doubts, periodically and sometimes persistently.  But God does not abandon us in our doubt.  Just like Thomas, he comes to us in the midst of our uncertainty and says to us: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  “Peace be with you.”

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

Jesus, I trust in you.

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Homily Readings are here.

We are confronted in today’s Gospel with a reluctance to believe. In the disciples’ case, it was a slowness to believe based on the fact that they didn’t really have the resources that we do – like the Gospels and two millennia of Church teaching. They did, of course, have what the Lord had told them. But they also had yet to receive the Holy Spirit.  So even though they did have Jesus’ words, they still didn’t understand them.

We come to Mass today from an entirely different perspective. We have more resources: the Gospels and the Church and the Holy Spirit, and so we absolutely should know better. And I think we do believe, at least in our heads. But when it comes to believing with our hearts, it’s another thing entirely. How easy is it to believe that God loves us and has a plan for us when we are confronted with a difficult situation? When a loved one is dying? When we’ve lost a job? When the economy has eaten up our retirement? When we’ve just learned that we are seriously ill?

But like the disciples, Jesus comes to us today and tells us that our faith must be the bedrock of our lives: helping us to be joyful in the good times and providing a source of strength in our bad times. And just when we are all thinking about ourselves – about what we need, about what we’re going through – just when the disciples are trying to figure out what to do next – Jesus makes it clear: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” Get back on the horse, get back into life, live the faith and be a witness. That’s the life of the disciple, that’s the life of faith.

And we can do all that today and every day because of what we celebrate on this Easter Day: Christ is risen, and sin and death have been destroyed. God does have a plan for us, he does love us, and he has done all he needs to do to prove it.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

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Today’s readings

These holy days, this Sacred Paschal Triduum, are all about the Cross. In these moments, the cross takes center stage: it is, in fact the focal point of the Gospel. At his birth into our world, he was laid in a wooden manger, that wood that is the precursor of the wood of the cross. Throughout his public ministry, he journeyed to the cross which was the reason for his coming. And today, he mounts the altar of the cross as the priest, the altar, and the lamb of sacrifice, given for us.

There can be no greater demonstration of God’s love for us than we have in these days. We broken ones, the ones who incurred the sentence of death, have that sentence served by God the Word, the One who was with the father in the beginning, the One through whom all things were made. Our God is just and there is a price for sin. But our God is mercy and there is forgiveness and redemption and salvation.

Isaiah’s lament in today’s first reading catches us up in the emotion of Good Friday.  The suffering servant’s appearance is so marred, stricken and infirm that we cannot bear to look at him.  Because if we really looked hard enough, we know, in our heart of hearts, that the marring, the strickenness, the infirmity are all ours. All ours! This is a dark hour.  It seems like all is lost. 

We too will have dark hours of our own.  That’s one of the few guarantees that this fleeting life gives us.  We absolutely will have to bear our own cross of suffering: the illness or death of loved ones, the loss of a job, the splintering of a family, or even the shame of addictive sin.

It is our brokenness that we see in the suffering servant, our sinfulness on the son of man.  And this suffering one is embodied by our God, Jesus Christ our Savior, who carries all of that nastiness to the cross, and hangs there before us, bleeding and dying and crying out to the Father.  That’s our sin, our death, our punishment – and he bore it all for us.  Who could believe what we have seen?

And just when it seems like there is nothing left to give, when it seems like all hope is lost, when it seems like death has the upper hand, the soldier thrusts his lance into the side of Christ, and our Jesus gives still more and yet again: he pours forth the life blood and water that plants the seeds of the Church into the barren ground of the earth, guaranteeing the presence of the Lord in the world until the end of time.  Christ our God gives everything he has for us, takes away all that divides us, and performs the saving sacrifice that makes salvation possible for all people.  Our God gives up everything – everything – for love of us.

We have the eyes of salvation history, we who have grown up in the Church. So we know that the suffering and death of Jesus is not the end of the story.  In the day ahead, we will keep vigil for the Resurrection of the Lord which shatters the hold that sin and death have on us.  We are a people who eagerly yearn for the Resurrection.  We must certainly hope for the great salvation that is ours, and the light and peace of God’s Kingdom.  But not today: today we remember that that salvation was bought at a very dear price, the price of the death of our Savior, our great High Priest.  Today we look back on all of our sufferings of the past or the present, we even look ahead to those that may yet be.  We see all those sufferings in our suffering servant on the cross.  And as we sit here in God’s presence we know that we are never ever alone in those dark hours, that Christ has united himself to us in his suffering and death.  As we come forward to venerate the Cross, we bring with us our own crosses: past, present, and future, and join them to the sufferings of Christ. In these moments, we unite ourselves to him in our own suffering, and walk confidently through it with him, passing the gates of salvation, and entering one great day into God’s heavenly kingdom.

We adore you, O Christ and we bless you: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

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Today’s readings

Sometimes, when I take a step back in preparing for our Palm Sunday Mass, my head spins a little bit.  That’s because this is no ordinary celebration of Mass.  We have two Gospel readings: one at the beginning of Mass for the blessing of the palms, and one very long one in the normal spot in the Liturgy of the Word. And those two Gospel readings couldn’t be more different in tone!  The first one tells of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, and it seems so triumphant. The crowds welcomed him and paraded with him into the city.  But then we get to the Passion reading and everything changes in a heartbeat.

 I think if we had to sum up the Liturgy today with a contemporary quip, it might be, “Well, that escalated quickly!”  We go from “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  to “Crucify him! Crucify him!  Give us Barabbas!” just two chapters later! This, friends, really is the hour for which Jesus came.  The hour for him to lay down his life.

 It seems like things have escalated quickly, but really we know they didn’t.  All through the Gospel, Jesus has been getting under the skin of the religious establishment, calling out their weak and self-serving adherence to the Law, taking care of the real needs of people as they should have been, and showing people a way of life based not on legalism, but on caritas, love poured out in service to others.  That he will punctuate that caritas love at the end of the Gospel today is quite instructive.  The whole of the Gospel centers around laying down our lives for others.

 And, really, if we take a big picture view of the history of salvation, things haven’t escalated that quickly at all.  All through the scriptures, Old and New Testaments alike, people – we – have been missing the point.  The cycle of sin that spirals all through the scriptures has seen God send messages, through signs and prophets, of how things had gone wrong and what needed to be done.  And all through the scriptures, people have heeded the message only in lip service, or have outright murdered the prophets who brought the message.  And yet again, God sent new messages, and yet again, the people sinned.  We know that the sacrifice of Christ, God made man, was always God’s plan for salvation.  It has been incubating for generations, and now, finally, the hour has come.

 Honestly, though, we know things have continued to escalate.  Wars in Ukraine, Russia, Israel, and Gaza are decimating cities and killing thousands every day. The migrant crisis finds people coming to our nation with nothing, and being pawns in a great political argument, all while testing the ability of cities to care for them and take them in. Crime and terrorism abounds, and we find ourselves in the middle of an election cycle in which people use all these heartbreaking issues to advance their careers, their own agendas, and the coffers of their allies and supporters.  All of this almost causes Our Lord to fall a fourth time, crushed under the weight of the cross.  We certainly need a Simon of Cyrene to help us shoulder the burden of it all, and a Veronica to wipe the blood and sweat from Christ’s face once again.  People walk the Way of the Cross over and over, and the hour of Christ’s Passion seems to always be present.

 Who are we going to blame for this?  Whose fault is it that they crucified my Lord?  Is it the Jews, as many centuries of anti-Semitism would assert?  Was it the Romans, those foreign occupiers who sought only the advancement of their empire?  Was it the fickle crowds, content enough to marvel at Jesus when he fed the thousands, but abandoning him once his message was made clear?  Was it Peter, who couldn’t even keep his promise of standing by his friend for a few hours?  Was it the rest of the apostles, who scattered lest they be tacked up on a cross next to Jesus?  Was it Judas, who gave in to despair thinking he had it all wrong?  Was it the cowardly Herod and Pilate who were both manipulating the event in order to maintain their pathetic fiefdoms?  Who was it who put Jesus on that cross?  Even now, who do we blame for the death of our Lord?

 And the answer, as we well know, is that it is, and always was, me.  Because it’s my sins that led Jesus to the Way of the Cross.   I have been the selfish one.  I have been the one who has looked down on people who are different from me, using my privilege at their expense.  I have been the one that has withheld love and forgiveness and grace in so many different ways.  I have been comfortable with my sins and content to stay the way I am.  It’s my sins that betrayed my Jesus; it’s my sins that have kept me from friendship with God. 

 But as ugly as I have been, as much as I have nailed him to the cross, even so: he willingly came to this hour and gave his life that I might have life. 

 And you.

He gave himself for us.

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Today’s readings

Caiaphas had no idea how prophetic his words were. Actually, as far as the intent of his words went, they were nothing but selfish. The Jews didn’t want to lose their standing with the Romans. As it was, they had an uneasy peace. The Romans pretty much let them practice their religion as long as there wasn’t any trouble. But they knew that if everyone started following Jesus, the Romans would give preference to the new way, in order to keep the peace. The religious leaders couldn’t let that happen, so they began plotting in earnest to kill Jesus, planning to find him when he came to celebrate the upcoming feast day, which they were certain he would attend.

It’s a time of high intrigue, and for Jesus, his hour – the hour of his Passion – is fast approaching. That’s so clear in the Gospel readings in these last days of Lent. In just a few hours we will begin our celebration of Holy Week, waving palms to welcome our king, and praying through his passion and death. It is an emotional time for us as we know our God has given his life for us, the most amazing gift we will ever get. It is also a time of sadness because we know our sins have nailed him to the cross.

But, this is where the significance of Caiaphas’s words brings us joy. Yes, it is better for one person to die than the whole nation. God knew that well when he sent his only Son to be our salvation. Jesus took our place, nailing our sins and brokenness to the cross, dying to pay the price those sins required, and rising to bring the salvation we could never attain on our own. Caiaphas was right. It was better for one person to die than for the whole nation to die. Amazing as it seems, that was God’s plan all along.

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Today’s readings Mass for the School Children

Have you ever thought that everyone in the whole world was against you? Sometimes it seems that way, for sure. We all go through times like that.  Of course, it’s not true; there are always people who believe in you.  But if you’ve ever felt like it was true, you’re not alone: we’ve all been there some time or another in our lives. 

Maybe someone was telling lies about you and trying to get others to work against you, or maybe they were looking for any time you did the slightest thing wrong, or messed up in any way, so they could act all superior or get you in trouble. Or maybe they even sabotage you or tell stores about you behind your back.  It’s frustrating when that happens.  So since we’ve all been there, I think we might understand a little of how the prophet Jeremiah, King David, and Jesus may have felt in today’s readings and psalm.

Jeremiah was one of the Old Testament prophets, and a prophet’s job is never easy. Nobody wants to hear what they don’t want to hear.  People don’t want to hear that they are wrong, and they don’t want others to tell them what to do. The prophets had to tell the people what God wanted and how God wanted them to live, and they didn’t find that welcome at all.  It can be difficult to stand up for what’s right.  So for Jeremiah, things are getting dangerous: people disliked what he was saying so much that they wanted him dead.  The same is true for Jesus in today’s Gospel reading.  Jesus now is rapidly approaching the cross; it’s almost the hour for him to give his life.

And so the psalm today is kind of the prayer of both of them, and really all of those who are suffering at the hands of an enemy.  King David in the psalm finds that his enemies are pursuing him to the point of death, like the waters of the deep overwhelming a drowning man.

But all of them find their refuge in God: God never leaves us alone in our troubles.  Jeremiah writes, “For he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!”  King David takes consolation in the fact that “From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.”  And for Jesus, well, his time was coming close, but it had not yet come.

When we are provoked like they were, how do we respond?  Is our first thought to take refuge in God, or do we try to solve the problem on our own? Or maybe we even try to get back at those who are attacking us. Those last two options never ever work.  If we don’t turn to God, we will sooner or later find those waves overwhelming us, because there is always a limit to our own power, a limit to what we can do all by ourselves. 

But God never expects us to do the right thing all alone.  He knows that it’s hard for us to stand up for what’s right, to do the right thing when everyone seems to be doing something else, to speak up for those who are struggling when everyone else is making fun of them.  God always expects us to do the right thing, of course: that’s what he made us for.  But he doesn’t expect us to do the right thing on our own.  He will give us the power to stand strong in the midst of trouble – we just have to ask.  If we do things on our own, we have no one to turn to when things go wrong or when things get tough.  But if we turn to God, even if things don’t improve on our own timetable, we will always find refuge and safety in our God: there will be strength to get through, and we will never be alone.

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I don’t think most of us need to think real hard about what it means to suffer.  We have all had, and will have, more than our share of it.  Whether it’s the illness and even death of loved ones, or our own illnesses, or unemployment, underemployment, and difficulties at our job, or strife in our families, or any one of many other issues, we have all encountered suffering at some level, at some point in our lives.  When we are going through it, it can be hard to find meaning in that suffering.  Why would God let us suffer, or let our loved ones suffer, as they do, and not intervene? What purpose does our pain and sadness serve?

 The reality of suffering is something of a mystery for us.  Today we hear it in our first reading: Job, the innocent man, has been the victim of Satan’s testing: he has lost his family and riches, and has been afflicted physically.  His friends have gathered around and given him all the stock answers as to why he is suffering: that he, or his ancestors, must have sinned and offended God, and so God allowed him to suffer in this way.  But Job rejects that thinking, as we all should: it is offensive.  Even if we accept that our sins have been great, this reduces God to a capricious child who throws away his toys when he tires of them.

 That’s not Job’s God and it’s not our God either.  And we still have that notion of suffering among us, I’m afraid.  Many people think they are being punished by God because of their sins when they are suffering.  And there is some logic to it: our sins do bring on sadness in this life.  Sin does have consequences, and while these consequences are not God’s will for us, they are a result of our poor choices.  But God does not penalize us in this way by willing our suffering.

 In fact, God has such a distaste for our suffering, that he sent his only Son to come and redeem us.  Jesus was one who suffered too, remember: being nailed to the cross, dying for our sins – but even before that, weeping with those who wept for loved ones, lamenting the hardness of heart of the children of Israel, being tempted by the devil in the desert, even understanding the hungry crowd and miraculously providing a meal for them out of five loaves and a couple of fish.  Jesus felt our affliction and suffering personally, and never abandoned anyone engaged in it.

 In today’s Gospel, Jesus is found healing.  First Peter’s mother-in-law, and then those who came to him at sundown.  In this reading, Jesus is a sign of God’s desire to deal with suffering.  We do not deny the presence of suffering and the tragic in our lives, in fact, we do what we can to overcome it.  But while Jesus deals with suffering and cures illnesses in these stories, he doesn’t eliminate all pain from the world.  In the same way, somehow, we deal with the suffering that presents itself to us, and its causes as we can, and are left with the awesome mystery of what remains.

 But the key here is that our God is with us in our suffering, and so we are called to be there for others who are suffering.  Indeed, we are partners with them in their suffering.  That’s how this always works. When we pray, we open the door for our God to walk with us through suffering.  If it’s his will that we be cured or the situation would change, that will happen, but whatever happens, we are not alone in it.  And when others suffer, we are the hands and feet and voice of Jesus as he walks with them in their pain.

 This weekend we kick off our annual diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal which funds the various ministries of the diocese of Joliet.  We at Saint Mary’s depend on these ministries to help us: educating seminarians like Andrew, our new intern, and our weekend seminarian Matthew; and supporting the efforts of our school and religious education program.  In addition, through the efforts of Catholic Charities, housing is provided for those who are in need, and meals are served to the hungry.  We are blessed that we can come together as a diocese to provide these services, all for the Glory of God.

 We can’t make all of the suffering in the whole world go away.  But we can do the little things that make others’ suffering a little less, helping them to know the healing presence of Christ, together.

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Today’s readings

The saga between Saul and David continues. The Lord has rejected Saul, and given gifts and charisms to David, who God intends to anoint as king in Saul’s stead. This is obvious to Saul, and has driven him to madness. He is so enraged at this point that he mounts a large military campaign – three thousand of Israel’s best men – just to hunt down David. Insecure people do crazy things.

But, although he certainly could, and even though God said “Do with him as you see fit,” David will do no such thing. He recognizes that even though the king might be flawed – crazy, even – he is still the king, and action against the king is action against God as well.

This, friends, is the essence of the fourth of the Ten Commandments: respecting authority. People of integrity do not take advantage of others, or mount campaigns against them. Instead, they continue to do their work and live their calling as God has required of them. Remember that the Fourth Commandment is the only one that comes with a promise: “that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12)

God is faithful. It is up to disciples to be people of integrity and be faithful as well.

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