Pastor's Note - September 8, 2013

From the Pastor’s Desk:

           I remember that when I was ordained a priest in April of 2007, just a few months later, I began my time at Camp Ekon.  As a new priest, I was still nervous when presiding at Mass, not wanting to forget to say some of the prayers.  In the first week of working at Ekon, we had a gospel reading that was either the same as this week’s or similar.  I was nervous and many of the children were homesick, and the Lord was speaking words like, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate their father and mother, spouse and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even their life itself, cannot be my disciple.”  The children’s eyes looked confused and mine probably appeared panicked.  The last thing I wanted was the sounds of sobs emanating from the chapel!  Sometimes when we are trying to convince others of a certain idea or position, we can sometimes use strong or exaggerated words.  In a way, I think that the Lord is doing just this.  The Lord who reveals to us that God is a God of love and mercy, certainly does not want us to hate anyone, nor to even have hate in our hearts.  And so his words to us this week cannot be about hate, but perhaps they are leading us to dwell more deeply in a passionate love.

           If one is asked what they think about when they think about religion or faith, they often speak about such things, as going to Mass and morality.  When they are reminded about the centrality of love in our faith, there can sometimes be a sense of let down, of taking the easy way.  And yet I can think of nothing else that is as difficult as committing ourselves to be loving. It is this loving that may be the Cross which Jesus speaks of.

           In the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, there is an image that is used to describe how we are tempted into sinfulness.  Ignatius says that the Evil One sends out his demons to each of us, and, as if they are poking at the walls of a fort, they seek our weak spots.  When our weaknesses are discovered, then we are attacked.  Every one of us has our “weak spots,” those parts of us that want to limit our loving.  It may be an insecurity about our lovability; it may be a fear of disappointing others; it may be a concern that as we age we are not as valuable as before; it may be an excessive competitiveness that sees others as better; it may be a hurt from the words of another; or, it may be loneliness seeing the joy of the world as passing me by.  These are temptations and lies!  We are created to love and to be loved.  And the Evil One wants us to give-up on love, to give-up on God and ourselves.  But we are followers of the Lord.  We see him carrying his Cross and we bend low to collect our own.  With each step he takes, he proclaims that the love of the Father isn’t going anywhere; it is always given and shared with us.  Our focus is not our infidelity, but is God’s fidelity to us.  With each step we take, we proclaim that love is real, that we know it in our hearts and, that, we will seek to love with every thought, every word and every action.  We are not made to hate, we are not made to be victims of our “weak spots.”  We are made by a God who is love and mercy, we are made to love and be loved.  With sounds of joy, let us pick up our Cross and love.

God Bless & Take Care,

 Fr. John

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