St. Juliana Cancer Support Group
Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 17, 2019
At first glance, you might look at these readings and not have a warm, fuzzy feeling. They might not appear very consoling to you. "Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven...We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a disorderly way...There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place...You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death...You will be hated by all because of my name..."
Yes, it is actually, 'yipee.' At least it is 'yipee' to me, and not because I'm a masochist. I take consolation in these readings because they affirm to me how awesome Jesus was and how, once again, the most important thing is our soul and not any material object.
Take a look at our Lord's opening in this Gospel. People are gathered around remarking how beautiful the temple is. Does Jesus nod his head along with them? No! He says, "All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."
This fires me up when I read it. (Don't roll your eyes. Doesn't Malachi say in the first reading, "The day that is coming will set them on fire"?) It fires me up because Jesus is not afraid to be counter-cultural and to proclaim what is truth. The "culture" there was saying, "wealth and outer appearance is the standard for worth." Jesus says, "No, holiness and the heart is the standard for worth." The people who overheard Jesus might have shaken their heads in disapproval and walked away, but Jesus doesn't care. He isn't going to back down from proclaiming what is important.
So, there are two take-aways. First, Jesus is not a "yes-man." He says bluntly the Temple of Jerusalem, the most important building in the Jewish world, will be destroyed and it doesn't matter. Shocking and offensive. But it was true. When you pray and converse with our Lord, if you never feel him challenging you—if he's always your "yes-man"—you might not be praying to the true God.
Second, Jesus isn't too concerned about material objects, like buildings and stones and bank accounts and Chicago Bears wins-losses, etc. All that stuff is straw, to use a line from Saint Thomas Aquinas. Even if we're persecuted and lose our family and friends, it is okay, if we have our faith and our relationship to God. Hopefully it doesn't come to that, but it simply goes to emphasize how "the one thing necessary" is God.
If any thing in this world takes you away from our Lord for one second—be it a phone or a job—let it go. It's not important. Only God is the supreme fulfillment of the human heart.
The Pastoral Council is explopring Alpha Alpha "an 11-week course that creates a space where people are excited to bring their friends for a conversation about faith, life and God." The sessions of Alpha involve a meal, a short video, and discussion. If Alpha is something you might be interested in participating in please let me know. In addition to the small faith groups I am trying to form, we might also establish a small group or two that does Alpha, if we have enough interest. If you're curious to learn more about Alpha, please visit www.alpha.org.
Yours in Christ,