Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Invitation to Believe

This coming Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, was designated by the late John Paul II as Sunday of Divine Mercy.  In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear the story of how Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus first appeared to them.  Thomas indicates he will not believe this unless he can see and touch the wounds of Jesus.  When Jesus appears again, this time with Thomas present, Jesus invites him to do just that. Upon seeing Jesus, the Gospel of John records Thomas as responding, “My Lord, and my God.” It makes no mention as to whether Thomas is so bold as to actually try to touch the wounds of Jesus. (I tend to think not.) Jesus then has a powerful, yet gentle response to Thomas.  He doesn’t accuse or condemn, but in his mercy poses a question which will force Thomas to reflect on and evaluate the strength of his relationship with Christ. “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?”
This story each year affords us the chance to engage in more serious reflection. The question becomes not, “Do I need to touch Jesus?”  Rather, the focus changes to, “Have I let Jesus touch me? How have I allowed grace to act in my life that I may consciously act out that belief?”
This weekend, too, the church offers us two popes as examples of the light, hope, and mercy of our faith.  John XXIII and John Paul II will both be canonized. Both opened themselves to God’s touch.  John XXIII, simple man with a sense of humor and who cared deeply for people, allowed himself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and convoked the Second Vatican Council, which in turn provided the church the opportunity to reevaluate how to carry out its mission. John Paul II became the great missionary of the church, carrying the Gospel to all corners of the earth through his travels and preaching. Without a doubt, it is in attempting to follow their example that we will come to know truly the mercy of God and His peace.

Jim Gase

Development and Social Ministries

Sunday, April 6, 2014

10 Things To Think About As We Near the End of Lent

As we approach Holy Week, it might be good to think about how our Lenten time is progressing…

The following is an excerpt from Bishop David Ricken’s “Journey to the Foot of the Cross – 10 Things to Remember for Lent.”  Bishop Ricken is the bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin and the Chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the USCCB.

  1. Remember the Formula…Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving
  2. It’s a time of prayer.  Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread out over 40 days. One that hopefully brings us closer to Christ and leaves us changed by the encounter with him
  3. It’s a time to fast.  It’s almost a game for some of us, but fasting is actually a form of penance, which helps us turn away from sin and toward Christ.
  4. It’s a time to work on discipline.  Instead of giving something up, it can be doing something positive.
  5. It’s about dying to yourself.  The more serious side of Lenten discipline is that it’s about more than self-control – it’s about finding aspects of yourself that are less than Christ-like and letting them die.
  6. Don’t do too much.  We spend our entire lives growing closer to God.  Don’t try to cram it all in one Lent.  That’s a recipe for failure.
  7. Lent reminds us of our weakness.  This can be painful, but recognizing how helpless we are makes us seek God’s help with renewed urgency and sincerity.
  8. Be patient with yourself.  God is calling us to be patient and see ourselves as he does, with unconditional love.
  9. Reach out in charity.  Almsgiving…it’s about more than throwing a few extra dollars in the collection plate; it’s about reaching out to others and helping them without question as a way of sharing the experience of God’s unconditional love.
  10. Learn to love like Christ.  Lent is a journey through the desert to the foot of the cross on Good Friday, as we seek him out, ask his help, join in his suffering, and learn to love like him.
-Robin Swank

St. Michael's News Connection - Week of April 6th