Did Jesus ever take a vacation? Certainly, He kept the Sabbath and rested on that day, plus He did regularly withdraw to pray, including a 40-day “prayer vacation” in the desert …while fasting. And Jesus to his Apostles after they “reported all they had done and taught… said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’” (Mark 6:30–31) I write this since I just was on vacation, which is a bit more difficult during this pandemic, but blessedly I did find a quiet semi-deserted place (by a lake) to get away to spend a week.
In this Sunday’s first reading from the First Book of Kings, Elijah is to encounter God, but God does not speak to him through the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Instead, God speaks in a “tiny whispering sound” or as other translations say, a “still small voice.”
In the Gospel, Peter walks on water toward Jesus…"But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”
Since we enter into the month of August and draw nearer to the beginning of a new school year (we pray), I thought I’d talk about math. Did you know the Bible is full of math? This Sunday’s gospel is one example; Jesus multiplies 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to feed 5000 men, not counting women and children, with 12 baskets left over. Maybe since my background before becoming a priest was in engineering, I always wonder about the exact math here (nerd alert!).
Time flies! Our summer is moving along quickly as this is the last weekend of July. I can’t believe that by the time this article is published I will have been at Prince of Peace already 25 days (of course I have to write this about a week earlier though). I am thinking now it is past time for me to reassess where we are at with re-opening. As of this moment writing this, I do not have all the answers, but I use this column to hone my thoughts on the principles involved.
Lots of parables! In last week’s Sunday gospel we had the parable of the sower and soils. This week we have the parables of the weeds in the field, the mustard seed, and yeast mixed into dough. And next week we receive the parables of the hidden treasure, pearl of great price, and the fishing net.
I thought I’d summarize some of my first homily into this column (so this was from last Sunday). What are my expectations as the new pastor of Prince of Peace? They say in the business world that setting expectations is crucial for leadership. Plus, it is clear that God has certain expectations of us (we could call them commandments). As a priest and pastor, my identity has to be that of a spiritual father. What should a spiritual father expect of his spiritual children? What should be expected of me?
There is such a thing as a good death, a death that, however sad, leaves behind a sense of peace. I have witnessed many of these types of deaths and I have seen many that are not at all peaceful. I think we would enjoy the former over the latter.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus gives a long farewell speech at the Last Supper. Those around him are understandably shaken, afraid, and not prepared to accept the reality of his impending death. He tries to calm them and give them something to cling to with these words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” John 14:27.
This weekend, as we celebrate fathers, two men who are fathers in our parish will be ordained to the Permanent Diaconate. Congratulations to Jason Imlay and Justin Reuter.
As I prepare to leave Prince of Peace for yet another priestly assignment, it is good for me and us to reflect on the priesthood and the Eucharist. Reflecting much over the past three months on both of these as we live through this pandemic, I have come to more greatly appreciate how the two are even more strangely connected in my experience and belief.
Sometimes our Catholic theology can be intense. Many times in trying to explain our beliefs we need to have knowledge that should propel us to know and find out more. Similar to other animal instincts, we humans - imprinted with the divine nature, should seek to know more about God and how we fit into His plan. If we are truly the glory of God and the highlight of His creation, why would we not desire to know and experience God more throughout our lives?