Monday, August 14, 2017

The Real Life Challenges of the Gospel


I could no help but think when leaving Mass yesterday that inside the Church the congregation was very much in the presence of Jesus, but upon leaving the doors we were cast out upon the waves much like the disciples in the day's Gospel.  Even more profound was the focus of the Mass by the visiting Fr. Lawrence who always provides opportunity to reflect on events, today being the tragic outcomes in Charlottesville Saturday. He really zoomed in on the idea that we all have fears and prejudices, some don't manifest themselves as outwardly as what occurred in Virginia, but if we allow them to manifest they can rise their ugly head in manners that may seem inconceivable.

As a history teacher I see the events that unfolded as a pattern of increased hate towards those who are different whether by skin color, belief, sexual preference and religion.  It seems that we are taking a turn for the worst as some people becoming increasingly intolerant of any thing that might threaten their security. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I see this as an opportunity to embrace the teachings of Christ even more.


Father Lawrence took us a journey during the homily as he recounted a visit to Auschwitz some years ago. He told us of his interaction with a group of youths from Israel as they entered the ghostly gas chambers where uncounted number of Jews were killed and the ensuing despair and sorrow that encompassed the group as they remained momentarily in the unit. "We know what happened there." he stated, but what brought people to this point was his question. Labels and proclaimed superiority was the answer. His message was clear, this can happen again if we allow it, maybe not on the same level of the Holocaust, but such events as Charlottesville are a wakeup call for us to truly live the Gospel message of love. This means even in the face of tragedy we are called to love those who incite hate and promote violence.

And if this message is not reminder, it is no coincidence that we celebrate the memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. Yes God does speak to us, especially as Catholics when we remember the lives of saints who so valiantly live out the Gospel even in the most dire of circumstances. Furthermore in today's first reading, Moses implores the Hebrews to respond the message to love and serve the Lord for the Lord has no favorites. The Lord befriends the alien so the people must do the same and likewise for the orphans and widows.


As Father Lawrence reminded yesterday, living the Gospel is not easy especially in times where it is much easier let the ugly face of hate to simmer. I would like to think that I bear no ill feelings towards people and I can be quite adept on putting on that face, but upon a thorough examination and with a prayerful attitude I find otherwise. So what are my steps to rid myself of these sentiments. I have found that among those who blog here there have been some wonderful tips on using the Rosary. It has been mentioned that in praying the Rosary that each bead one prayers for a person. In this case I might pray for all those who I bear ill feelings. Another tip that I just recently used was in praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet each bead was dedicated to those people in the news who have exemplified actions of hate. It is amazing how quickly these beads are filled with those people. I only hope that with these actions and the actions of those who truly live out the Gospel that we can begin to repair the polarized state of our nation. Holy Mary Pray for us.

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