We hear in the proclamation of the gospel today:
“Whoever has my commandments and observes themis the one who loves me.”
As we look towards Pentecost, awaiting the promised Spirit and the gifts that God’s Holy Spirit bestows, we wonder what the world could look like. Imagine the world, today’s world, if leadership—from heads of household to president, prime minister, and pope—were leading with “the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, and the spirit of knowledge and reverence…the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.” (Rite of Confirmation). Indeed all of the above would claim to be doing his or her best so as to lead and shepherd exercising such God-given skills and talents, but, alas, this side of heaven, there remains the human condition with all its weakness and frailty. This is no cause to lose hope, however, because we were “sealed” with the gift of the Holy Spirit; the Spirit is always there waiting be retrieved. (I almost wrote, “retrieved and re-purposed,” but it is not the Spirit that needs re-purposing, is it, it is our very self that often needs to be re-purposed—redirected.)
Peter, with his occasional arrogance and lying, well understands the dynamic of needing to “re-purpose.” In today’s passage from his own writing we can perceive his reliance once again on the Holy Spirit as he instructs those first to be called “Christian,”—and instructs us—”Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks for a reason for your hope” [and note that he adds], “but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear . . . .” In other words, check your “attitude” at the door! Obviously a person with a soul sanctified in Christ and a heart filled with hope is a person who is attractive, not repulsive—a person ready to evangelize!
Truly, in today’s readings we are being duped and tricked into, well, living a much better, more peace-filled, more satisfying life. We are being “brain washed” in a most acceptable way, to keeping Jesus’ commandments to put love of God and neighbor on an equal plane, and to love one another as he loved us. But like the prophet Jeremiah we say, “I was duped—and I let myself be duped,” because oftentimes disappointment sets in, or things simply do not go our way. This translates as having been taken in by Jesus. That is when we have to step back and remember Jesus’ declaration: “The world does not see as God sees.”
It is God’s own Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, that hands us a pair of glasses with the right prescription. Now we see with the eyes of the Redeemer and the result is inner peace and abiding joy. We allow ourselves to surrender to that which we know can save our families, our country, our world, and yes, even our Church! After all, we have no hope if our souls are not constantly being sanctified in Christ along life’s journey—on the path “to the throne of God in Exultation—indeed, the throne of Divine Mercy. BRING IT ON!
SPECIAL NOTE: Parable of “The Good Samaritan”
While I think there will be no more “special notes” about the Church’s ministry to refugees, migrants and immigrants, in this bulletin (because I choose not to continue to hit myself in the head with a hammer, because when I quit, it feels so good), I conclude with a challenge to everyone to read the parable of “The Good Samaritan.” Read it three times, then a good commentary by a reputable biblical scholar, and then go to the Lord in prayer. I know that sounds like “stay warm and well fed,” but honestly I have no better recommendation. Jesus’ teaching is saving and redeeming.
“Father, it’s not fair that people should get a “home free” card, when others have waited, perhaps, 20 years to get into the country legally.” I agree. I feel the same way. But isn’t that the same as saying, “It’s not fair that a person can go his or her whole life being a good God-fearing practicing Christian, and then another person can go through life being a sinful jerk and then have a death-bed conversion and receive the sacraments”? We do not see as God sees, folks, and that is why a Christian knows well, “Judge not…”
Lastly, I have had more than one person tell me something like, “The Church doesn’t even admit that Jesus himself obeyed the law and recognized the legitimacy of the law when he said “render to Caesar,” not bothering to add “and to God what belongs to God.” Well, in truth, it all belongs to God! Caesar can have his taxes. I’m afraid that over the past three weeks, I have seen and heard more evidence of “The World does not see as God sees,” than I have of people who have read and taken to heart Jesus’ teachings. When I was a prison chaplain for 6 years for the State of California, I got a personal and close-up experience of what “separation of church and state” means. The State rendered to criminals what was their due (most of the time), and I rendered to them the Church—Divine Mercy—yes, even to criminals.
P.S. A lady approached me after Mass last Sunday who was promoting the gathering at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish (which I drew to your attention in my letter: IMMIGRATION Q & A, Wednesday, May 31st, 7 – 9 PM); I only found out afterwards that she was the lawyer from KAASS Law, who will be presenting at that event. Having just talked to her on the phone as of this writing, I understand now that the event is primarily to counsel immigrants as to their status and how to proceed LEGALLY. She told me that any who would come not needing the counsel for themselves, but with questions about why the Church is supporting their work, would be welcome. Since I cannot myself be there, I have asked a couple of people to attend to be my eyes and ears. I encourage attendance because of the resource that is offered, the opportunity for Q & A, and the convenient location.