… it all started when a man and a woman said “I DO”… Well, it actually started a while before that but let’s skip to the really good part… Continue reading
… it all started when a man and a woman said “I DO”… Well, it actually started a while before that but let’s skip to the really good part… Continue reading
There has been a lot going on lately, and with the weather being quite nice here there seems to be so much needing to be done. There were many more, than usual, community and school events this last month, from a Mother’s Day tea at the school to community clean-up, a healing walk through the community, a 10 km walk down to 6 mile for a bbq, the kids from the school transplanting their classroom started veggies into the community garden, and a baby welcoming ceremony. We also had a farewell potluck and celebration for one of the RCMP families who are moving down to Smithers. Their post here had already been extended an extra year (3 years total) and so they had to go.
Josh has taken up an on-call position for driving the school bus, which has actually turned in to more of a full-time position as of late. As full time as it is, it is only 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon so it works out well. And it seems our children enjoy him driving the bus also.
We are blessed to be celebrating 10 years of marriage this year and so it was wonderful to be able to celebrate our once-a-month Mass close to our anniversary date, and on the feast of Pentecost. We were able to renew our vows and receive a blessing from Fr.Suresh. It was so wonderful to see the joy on the faces of the members of our church community!
We got to spend the next afternoon, Victoria Day, down at the river with our friends and despite it drizzling a wee bit, and being a tad windy we all had a blast!
With the snow finally gone there is always the pressure, and excitement, to get projects around the property completed. And with the help of some of the community it always makes the job a lot easier AND a lot more enjoyable:)
Our new wrap-around driveway was completed last June and so now it was time to run the fence down the property line next to the new driveway.
What a beautiful day it was on Sunday! Feels like summer is here with 25 degree celsius weather during the day and the warm breeze. Being a Sunday we of course gathered in worship as a Church community(which I will share a little bit more on further down) and once all of the visiting was done decided to head down to the beach, at old town, for some quality family time.
On the church side of things, it is always wonderful celebrating the Easter season. And on top of that we celebrate May as the month of Mary. So we had a ceremony for the crowning of Mary and we’re so sad we forgot to take pictures. But it involved the children processing with flowers up to the sanctuary, to the singing of Immaculate Mary, and placing their flowers at the feet of Our Lady. And then the rest of the congregation was able to come forward and do the same. We also placed a wreath of flowers on Mary’s head.
The Scripture readings from Sunday centred on the Golden rule: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15.12) A fairly repeated verse and one that we should all strive towards, but what does it really mean?!
For one, it means opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit. The 1st reading(Acts 10.25-48 and a little bit before to get the full context) really opens our eyes to this as we see Peter being led by the Spirit to a new way of thinking; really to see as God sees AND living from that. This isn’t always easy as we as usually tend to stay away from change! But it is from this that the early Church extends the scope of it’s mission from just the Jews to non-circumcised believers, in Peter’s words from a reformed view, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10.34-35)
Secondly, it means we have to abide in His love(John 15.9). There is nothing we can do to earn God’s love and He loves us all perfectly and equally. I think the key here is, also from this Gospel passage; “You did not choose me but I chose you.” (John 15.16a) It involves us giving up our control over our little story and surrendering to Gods’s love so as to be caught up in His great story.
Thirdly, and lastly, is the measure we are asked to give. In our society the word ‘love’ is used pretty loosely and lightly, but if we continue to look at this last weekend’s scripture passages we see it painted very clearly; “ In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4.10) And so the cross is what we measure our love against and by. We can say words, but they have no meaning until we put them into action; “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15.13) This is the measure to which we must love, laying down our lives, in other words sacrificing, for one another as Christ did for us!
SO, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15.12)
And in the closing lines of the Gospel passage we hear: “… I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” (John 15.16b)
Our very mission is TO love! And our individual mission which God has called us to, always takes the form of love, no matter what it is; it always takes the form of Him who first loved us. WE are chosen BY love, to BEAR love!
We encourage you today to abide in God’s love for you and to ponder your mission, to love, by asking yourself:
How am I to lay down my life for others?
How am I to make of my life a gift?
God is speaking to YOU, “I have chosen you to be a bearer of my love to the world!”
May the last two weeks of the Easter season be blessed for you 🙂
6th Sunday of Easter
Acts of the Apostles 10.25-26, 34-35, 44-48
1 John 4.7-10
Looking back it has already been close to 1 year since we last sent out an update. It has been a full year and one with a lot of adjustments, challenges and changes. This year, up to this point in our family life, has been one of the greatest struggle and growth, but also great blessing.
As always, we have enjoyed so much the time that we have had to spend with family and friends in the south. It has become so precious to us, as the distance makes our hearts long for the physical presence of our loved ones, which we have grown to cherish much more deeply than we ever have.
There has been a lot happening in the community this year. Joshua celebrated his third funeral service within a month and a half of each other, just last month, which is always a very moving opportunity and one he feels so honoured to be asked to celebrate. We believe that it is truly a comfort for the people here to have a presence at the church. It was reassuring, just recently when Joshua was asked to lead a funeral service they said, “We are thankful to have you here to do this for us.” We also finished up sacramental prep with the celebration of the Sacrament of First Holy Communion, back in May, a total of 8 children and their families attending. It has been an ongoing journey here in the ministry of presence, the more we are truly present the more we feel welcomed in; a school, where we are equals walking side by side and discovering what we can bring forth from eachother. A wonderful mystery! As we get to know people more there is a certain longing we have to go deeper and to encourage others to go deeper as well, in their faith, and so there has been some challenging pastoral moments.
We continue to host a family games nite every Friday night during the winter months, which is a highlight especially for the children. We had the help of some of the community members, and one of the other pastoral administrators, in relocating our shed from the front yard to the back and now have a lovely pull through driveway and extra parking; a huge transformation, and now the church is visible from the main road!!
At the kids’ Spring Break we were able to join both sides of our family, and were blessed with a prolonged visit(with Joshua’s side), albeit not under the most preferable of circumstances with Joshua being diagnosed with MS and facing a lot of uncertainty. Although at times we felt lost, and didn’t know what to do, we also felt so blessed and provided for and were showered with so many prayers and so much support. It was a big adjustment of our lifestyle, especially at first, but feel now that we have somewhat settled into this new reality.
In previous years Joshua has been a one-man show with getting our winter’s firewood; cutting the wood, hauling the wood, and splitting and stacking the wood. But this year from start to finish it was a team effort! Volunteers from the community, family, priests, seminarians, and even the Bishop lent us a huge helping hand! We were blessed to have 2 new priests arrive in the diocese, serving northern BC and the Yukon. So we were able to start having them come down to celebrate Mass twice a month, instead of the usual once a month, which it had been for the last 2.5 years.
One of the biggest highlights of the year was our time with family over the summer; celebrating both of our parents’ anniversaries (35th & 40th) as well as Joshua’s brother’s wedding. Our summer vacation finished up with our speaking(as the key-note speakers) at the Catholic Family Conference on Vancouver Island; a whole new experience for us. We were very humbled to see God work through us and touch the lives of those who attended. Joshua’s favorite moments were being able to talk to the men, sharing his story with them and encouraging them in their walks and also being surrounded by the support of our family while doing so. Denise’s favorite moment was being able to journey with a loved one back to the Catholic faith! At the beginning of the conference we had all our kids up there with us and did a short rap grace and introduction, which ended up being a great hit both with the kids and the crowd. It was great being able to incorporate our whole family into our sharing! It was very uplifting to be surrounded by so many other Catholic families, and also to have some of our extended family with us; Denise’s mom, brother, and sister-in-law, and Joshua’s parents, 3 siblings, and 3 cousins.
The kids had a good start to the school year, still enjoying the fact that there is an actual school bus that drives them to and from school. Kateri has moved in to the older grade, the Grade 3 – 5 class. Her favourite part of school is her Tahltan language class that she has every day. Isaiah started Kindergarten, joining his big sister Gianna in the K – 2 class. Isaiah is very quiet in class but loves recess and a program they do, called “Go-Noodle”! Gianna loves math and reading and enjoys helping Isaiah with these skills too! Aliz has been enjoying Headstart(preschool) but hasn’t had too many classmates. Being a social butterfly this has been difficult for her, so has been intermittent with her excitement in attending. Tobias has been into everything, whatever he can reach or get a chair to reach, and has been starting to say a few more words.
We wound down the fiscal year here with a trip to Whitehorse, for our Pastoral Advent Retreat on Church law, mainly highlighting the Sacraments with emphasis being on ways and ideas for being more pastorally present in our communities. As always it was good to be together with our northern family; the priests, other pastoral staff, the Maryhouse ladies, and our other friends. We always leave to come back home feeling so spiritually nourished, We also had our fill of fun, staying at our friends’ place and with their 6 kids, all around the same age as ours. Our God-son’s family with five kids live next door too, so it is always a party! This time around we were able to go to the pool, to the sledding hill for a pizza and hot chocolate party, and the Santa Claus parade and live Christmas tree light-up!
Our new year started out with a surprise bon fire in our back yard, which we found out about when we got a knock on the door at around 11pm, and were greeted by a caravan of vehicles in our driveway. It was SAFE! It was the brush pile that we had built back in the summer when we were clearing the front yard to move the shed and build the new driveway. That morning Joshua had taken some hot ash from the fireplace and emptied it on the pile, as he always does, and with there being a foot and a half of snow over the pile who thought it would flare up. Some 8 hours later it indeed did. So it worked out well with the very cold weather and added some excitement to everyone’s new year’s eve. A day later we were joined by our friends from Fraser Lake, a family with 6 kids, for a few days. It was so wonderful to have close friends with us to spend some of the holidays doing fun things together.
We recently had two seminarians, studying for the Diocese of Grouard- McLennan(Northern Alberta), from St.Joseph’s Seminary in Edmonton stay with us. They were here for around 3 weeks for their pastoral experience. It was a truly blessed time as they fit seamlessly into our family and community life. It was special for the community to see these young men who are studying to be priests and they even got a comment, “People still do that?” But they were received so openly be all in the community. It was wonderful having their hand for catechism classes and they were even each able to share a reflection at our Sunday Communion Service. Really, for us, it was like having family staying with us with the gracious amount of support they brought. The Lord continues to bless us with unique opportunities, like this, that give us a greater love for our universal Church and a greater appreciation for how He continues to work in and through our lives and the lives of those around us.
We wrapped up this last weekend with the Winter Carnival here in town, bookended with Gianna’s birthday(on Friday) and her party(on Monday). Although it was a lot of fun it definitely left us fairly exhausted. Life here in a small town usually doesn’t have this much going on at once 🙂
Well, we feel that there is so much more we could say and share however out of the hope of actually getting out this update to all of you we will have to leave it at that. And hopefully we will have time to write some more soon!
We hear this beautiful Psalm today (Psalm 23). It’s one I am sure many, if not all of you, are familiar with. It depicts our Lord and God as our Good Shepherd; one who provides for our needs so that “[we] shall not want” for anything. He is one who “comforts [us]” and “leads [us] in right paths.”
I find it interesting that, in the Gospel today, we are compared with sheep! I have heard that they are not very smart, hence why they need a shepherd. Truth be told (and I speak firstly of myself) we are not the brightest when it comes especially to spiritual matters. We continually go back to our same habits of sin as much as we try to turn from them, we get distracted by worries, and we stray awful close to cliffs of self-sufficiency and doubt among many other things. We are in need of being led by a shepherd who can bring us comfort and security, who knows our weaknesses and can lead us to green pastures and beside still waters.
Two lines in our Gospel today really spoke to me:
The first, “He calls his sheep by name… He goes ahead of them and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but run from him because they don’t know the voice of strangers.”
It is important then for us to be able to hear the voice of the shepherd so that we can follow it, otherwise it will be the voice of the stranger that will entice us in. In today’s world however there is so much noise. The biggest one I can think of is our televisions, but we also have our iPads, Tablets, iPods, telephones, e-mail, the news, the media; all these things that fill our heads with noise. How are we to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd? In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: “We are no longer able to hear God; there are to many frequencies filling our ears.” Now I am not saying to get rid of these things, although that would certainly make it a lot easier for us to hear God’s voice, but I know for myself this noise distracts and pulls our minds and hearts away from silence. As a family, we challenge ourselves on Sunday to pull away from the screens and the noise, to be in the silence of eachothers, and God’s, presence because this is where His voice is. So my challenge for you is this; think about the nose in your life, from the time you get up in the morning. This week(maybe even today) be conscious of even just one thing that creates noise in your life and take it out for a day. Spend that time in silence and allow the Shepherd to speak to you.
This leads us to the closing line of the Gospel, Jesus’ life’s vocation: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
“Sometimes in the media world we live in, I would say a post-Christian and anti-Catholic world for the most part, we get this message that the Church is oppressive, that God is a mean ogre in the sky who wants to squash our fun. Nothing could be further from the truth. What God gives us is this incredible plan of his that is all about helping us live the abundant life.” -Teresa Tomeo (from Opening the Word on FORMED.com).
Yes, these green pastures and still waters can be likened to heavenly paradise into which we can enter by Jesus, “the gate;” the way in. However Jesus not only leads us to life in heaven, but ‘abundant life’ here on earth if we follow in the paths he has made for us. Let’s go back to the words of St.Peter in the 2nd reading(1 Peter 2:21,23) for a moment: “Christ also suffered for you leaving an example, so that you should follow in his steps… When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.” So we have this Good Shepherd who leads us, by first walking the path that we too must walk, in order to have HIS abundant life in us.
I want to share a little story with you to go back to the behaviour of sheep. I have heard it said: “That when a lamb is particularly rambunctious or adventurous, repeatedly putting itself in danger, a shepherd will sometimes purposely break one of it’s legs. He then puts the lamb around his neck until it’s leg is healed. By that time, the little lamb has become attached to the shepherd, and it never again strays far from it’s masters protection and guidance.” Fr.John Bartunek (The Better Part, pg 895)
In my own life I can really relate to this lamb. I didn’t realize how self-sufficient I had become. Yes, I said I needed God but I feel that there wasn’t a deep realization of that need. So when I was hit with what started as a common cold and ended with me losing much of my balance and proper leg function I was for the first time in my life actually, physically in need of others to help me. I couldn’t do everything any more. Before all this had happened I had booked myself for a 2-day silent retreat. God had placed the need for this on my heart, even having to sacrifice time with my family who we were down to visit with. At the beginning of the retreat I remember the priest explaining the purpose of the silence, ”To create a space to hear the voice of the Lord speaking to us.” It hit me, and made so much sense. And it was such a time of grace for me. I realized, in my physical weakness how weak I was spiritually and how much I needed God. This time of intimacy in the silence gave me a new perspective and a new angle from which to see life. But I first needed to have my ‘leg broken’, so to speak, so that I could learn to remain close to Him, to rely on Him for my every need.
In closing, the Lord guides us, as a shepherd guides his sheep, if we are open and disposed to hearing his voice in the silence. He has an incredible plan for each one of us, to help us live the abundant life here and now and (God willing) eternal life with him in heaven. So let us not be timid or fearful but live whatever presents itself to us, because everything is a gift from our Good Shepherd for our own good and for our abundance!
With the closing line in today’s Gospel(Matt. 5:48) Jesus gives a challenge that carries a lot of weight, but offers us a way to true happiness, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” There is a lot packed in to this one line; “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Can we really be perfect? Yes, and according to Christ it is by love; “Love your enemies and pay for those who persecute you.” Our usual strategy might be to avoid our enemies, or to simply put up with them, but to actually love them?
What Jesus is trying to show us here is that love is not about feelings, or about loving those who love us, but rather desiring good for the other. To give an example, [to love a friend we could just do so because we know that we will receive something good in return, but when you love an enemy, who will not return in kind, you truly know that you are loving].
If you notice in the first reading(from the old law) we are told “love your neighbor as yourself,” but Jesus, in his ‘new commandment’(in fulfilling the old law by making himself its centre) tells us to love our neighbor as he loves us. This is really where the revolution of the heart is, because anyone can love those who love them, as even those who do not believe in Christ do, but we must “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us].” Can you imagine getting to heaven and the first person you meet is the one you liked the least on earth? It’s possible, after all, “[God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends his rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” God desires the good of all, and his love extends to all the same, saints and sinners alike, even to those with the worst intentions. For God IS love. And Jesus asks us to love as he loves us? But how can we possibly love like this? The truth is that we can’t love as we ought to on our own, but we can with Him and through Him.
By Christ’s death on the cross he took the Church(which is all of us) as his spouse(laying down his life for his bride) and gifted to her the Holy Spirit making us, each one of us, in a very personal way members of his body. As St.Paul says, the two became one flesh. In a tangible way this is the gift of the Eucharist to us, supernatural food for our Christian souls to supplement our weak efforts and keep us strong, united with Him, as we follow this difficult path. So we now share perfectly with Christ in his atonement(reparation for our sins), in his supernatural life(received through the sacraments), and in his triumph(through the resurrection-eternal life).We have the power, in and with Christ and the Holy Spirit, to overcome the world and the devil. We are promised perfection in him, provided we desire, cooperate, and ask for it!
We have this ideal, to “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” and we also have Jesus Christ, his Son, who shows us by his example this path that we must take, walking it ahead of us and beside us. He was betrayed and abandoned by his closest friends, tortured, humiliated, unjustly condemned, and put to death. He loves us as we are, that even while with our sins we keep acting as his enemies today. To see with the eyes of Christ on the cross; these are the eyes with which we need to gaze upon our enemies; If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also, if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well, if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them a second mile!
If you want to be perfect begin by loving your enemies! They will be your aid in reaching perfection. Today, think of one person you have a hard time getting along with, or someone whom you do not like being around. Start with saying a prayer for them and for the opportunity to see them with the eyes of Christ. Are you holding a grudge with anyone, or seeking vengeance, or not speaking with someone because of differences. Pray for Jesus to show you a way to love. Pay attention to the thoughts that cross your mind about others this week, and take those moments to offer a prayer. Instead of calculating your love (ie. I won’t do this for that person they did this to me; I won’t speak to them because they did or didn’t do this to/for me) open yourself to God’s love for you and look for opportunities and invitations to love those that are most difficult for you to love; start in little ways.
It is by our love that we are set apart from the world, and it is in our love that we have the opportunity to be like our God, to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.
Just stumbled upon a great idea today as we received an e-mail from HolyHeroes.com: to pray a novena to the Holy Spirit in preparation for Lent!
“We want to prepare our Lent in imitation of Jesus, who was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert of His Lent.
This Lent, rather than trying to change ourselves by penances and sacrifices of our choosing, we want to be led by the Spirit so that He can guide us in the ways He would like to transform us.”
You can find the article here.
Well, here is a long overdue recap of the last few months, by way of pictures. It will be short, in the way of writing, and sweet! Enjoy!!
We had a family photo shoot down at Glenora. We were able to enlist one of our friends, who enjoys photography, to spend some time with us to do this.
Now you may have noticed that we do not have too many pictures of the community. To explain, we are wanting to respect the people here that are a part of our church community, and wider community, by limiting the amount of photos we put of them on this blog. We hope you enjoy what you do see though and that it may give you a little snapshot of what is going on up here with us. We will share stories(hopefully), inspirations, and highlights as we feel prompted!
Blessings to you!
Well, it appears like we have blasted into the new year, and missed posting our pictures for most of the fall and into the tail end of 2016! With family life and ministry it seems that life has still happened and time has passed. Sometime soon we will post some highlights for you, but until then….
We ended up getting out to do a few fun things on the weekend.
On Saturday we visited with our friends, who just had a new baby goat born. Kateri was loving holding the animals, including the chickens. We went sledding at their place and stayed for a bit of a visit, warming up inside on hot chocolate!
Then on Sunday afternoon, after visiting with our Church community post Communion Service, we decided to hit the ‘ski hill’ for some more sledding. It has been nice here lately with temperatures dropping down to around 20 below at night but warming up to the mid teens during the day. It hasn’t snowed here in a while, so the hill was mainly ice(or really, crunchy snow), but we all had a blast!
Many blessings to you all!
I find that most people who claim themselves to be Christians do so because, in some way, Jesus has touched their lives and effected some kind of conversion in them. I don’t think I would be too far off to say that he has touched each of your own lives in some way, as he has mine. And so, if he has impacted us, should not our lives look different than everyone else’s, than people who are not Christians and who have not encountered the transformative power of the Gospel message. Mahatma Ghandi, a famous leader in India, once told a Christian friend, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” These words from Ghandi are both sad and powerful to reflect upon. He must not have encountered Christians living as salt & light, as we hear we should be!
In the Gospel reading today(Matthew 5:13-16) we are challenged by Christ’s words to his disciples, as they are just as relevant for us who are his followers today; “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.” Why would Jesus use these metaphors? Firstly salt. What is it used for? In Jesus’ time it was used to preserve, to cure meat so that it wouldn’t go bad. Salt is also used to bring out flavor in food. It brings out a fuller flavor, a richer taste, of the food to which it is added. Salt can also have an opposite effect, it can render infertile. Think of the Dead Sea, a body of water bordering Israel. It is so high in salt content that no plant or animal life can live in it or around it.
Now for light. Light illuminates. We can see the beauty of things when they are illuminated. We also need light so that we can see where we are going. It can guide us in the right direction towards something (think of commercial airliners landing at the airport. There is a special strip of lights at the end of the runway so that the pilots know if they are approaching at the right angle, both at night as well as during the day).
Notice that salt, as well as light, exist not for themselves but for something else. In and of themselves they hold no value, their value is in what they accomplish, or what change they effect. So how does this apply to our lives. We need to think of them in relation to our role as Christians! Our job, by our witness to Christ, is essentially to preserve, season, to bring out the richness of what is best in our society and culture. And also, on the other hand, to get in the way of what is dysfunctional in our society in order to render it infertile. We also are to bring the light of Christ to the world, to bring light where there is deep darkness, to illuminate all that is worth seeing while at the same time exposing all that is ugly. By the quality and integrity of our life we show what has value and reveal what doesn’t have value. By our actions others should be able to say, “That is what we are meant to be.”All of the saints embodied this, but I think of Saint Mother Theresa, in her example of bringing Christ to the neglected. It was never about her, but about bringing Christ’s face to others so that they would see Him. But at the same time it exposed the injustice that these people were neglected by society, dying on the streets. She brought value and dignity and richness to these lives, to these people whom she served. We may not be able to serve as Saint Mother Theresa did, but what we can do is bring the face of Christ to those we meet every day, to our own family members(that is usually where it is hardest), and even to our enemies.
Something I heard recently really inspired me in this manner, of what we are to be for the world, for others. Our own holiness, our own spiritual life, our relationship with Christ doesn’t merely exist for our own happiness and for our own salvation, but for the world’s happiness and the world’s salvation, for those who will encounter Christ in us and through us! So just as salt and light only have value in what they effect, so also, in a way, our own holiness has value in what it effects in others.
One final thought before I close: Jesus warns us, “If salt loses it’s taste… it is no longer good for anything.” Being a Christian and being salt and light are inseparable. This is our entire purpose, to be salt- to season and destroy, to be light- bringing direction and exposing the ugliness(of sin) which is to be avoided. If we lose sight of this we become useless, as salt that has lost it’s taste, “no longer good for anything.” The world needs vibrant Christians, otherwise it will lose it’s way. What would be guiding and giving taste otherwise.
We are, each one of us, a city built on a hill. We cannot be hidden! By your profession as a Christian you are being looked to, whether you realize it or not. How are you being salt? How are you being light? The world is in need of Christ, this great treasure that we bear, so do not lose your taste, do not hide under a bushel basket. Instead, let your light shine!
*Part of reflection adopted and paraphrased from Bishop Robert Barron’s homily, The responsibility of Christians during troubled times
We hear in the Gospel today the familiar sermon on the mount(Matthew 5.1-12), where Jesus instructs his disciples in the beatitudes. “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.” In the same way we come to this liturgy today, we come to Christ in the Eucharist, to remind ourselves that what the world has to offer will never truly satisy us, only God will!
I have found living up here in the north that people really focus on what the weather is or what the temperature is outside, especially during the colder months. This has come to make sense to me as I have found it can make all difference on whether you should go out for a drive somewhere or stay at home feeding wood to the furnace. The thermometer can be a very useful tool in surviving the elements, in knowing what to prepare for and what to do. Really it can help us make decisions that can be a matter of life or death. I would suggest that today, in the beatitudes, Jesus introduces us to the happinessometer; this would be his version of the thermometer for the spiritual life. A way of measuring where our spiritual temperature is at and how to prepare to receive true happiness.
I would like to focus on one of the beatitudes in particular for today. In understanding this particular one, I believe, we can get to the root of what the beatitudes are all about; “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” What do we “hunger and thirst” for? [We can think about it in the course of a day; we hunger and thirst for lots of things, but we’re going to go deeper than that. What do you hunger and thirst for in the deepest part of your life? If you look to your heart, what is the most powerful and abiding desire in you? Jesus teaches here that it must be for righteousness, meaning doing the will of God. We must hunger and thirst for doing God’s will. When you think about it, it’s not my will that matters in the end. It’s no my purposes, my plans, that truly matter, it’s God’s will, it’s righteousness. We will be happy, we will be filled, we will be satisfied, if we hunger and thirst for His will above all. The problem is that we hunger and thirst, with our hearts, for things that aren’t God, that aren’t His divine life, and that is why we are left unsatisfied.]*
So we can see it is really a matter of the heart; the beatitudes are a matter of the transformation of our hearts, seeing things from God’s perspective, and about growing His divine life in us. When we make ourselves available to Him then He begins to live His life in us and transform us; His grace and the power of his cross bring about in us this change, a greater poverty of spirit, detachment from the world, meekness, mercy and love, purity of heart, and peace, then we will experience true satisfaction, true happiness.
This sounds a lot like what Christ offers us in the Eucharist, but I think so often we grow complacent and He becomes someone we receive without knowing the full significance:
In the Eucharist we receive Jesus, in the appearance of a piece of bread, but in it’s substance his very self(body, blood, soul, and divinity). We receive his divine life in us, consumed into us, as Jesus said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” (John 6:56.) For Him to effect change in us we must accept this truth by faith; God’s offer of communion in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. And in cooperation with God’s grace our hearts and minds are transformed by this ‘communion’. In turn our faith in Him and our love for Him increase also, but only when we come prepared to receive Him.
In closing, where is your happinessometer at? Cold, maybe red-hot, or perhaps even luke warm. How blessed are we to have this great sacrament, the Eucharist, God coming to us in such a tangible way, wanting to give us his divine life! Are we hungering, are we thirsting, for that divine life, His will above ours? This will tell us exactly where our spiritual temperature is at!
* Excerpted from Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily, Blessed Are We (an excellent listen!)