On July 2, 1951 Fr. Tong Che-Tche disappeared. One month earlier, he had said this before the civil authorities: “I am a Chinese Catholic. I love my country; I also love my Church. I dissociate myself from everything that is opposed to the laws of my country, just as I dissociate myself from everything that is opposed to the laws of my Church, and above all things I dissociate myself from everything that can sow discord.”
Father James Wallace
Allow me to provide a brief "buildings and grounds" update. The main message to take away from this fourth installment is that nothing has changed or been definitely decided. A small group of parishioners and myself—an "exploratory building committee" of sorts—is looking into the back of the church and the ministry center projects. We have contacted a number of architects who will provide us with an idea of what we can do to improve our buildings.
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones”" (Matt 11:25).
We are arguably the most well-read and knowledgeable people in the history of mankind. Think of how many books exist, how much information there is on health, science, history, the environment, and so on. We watch documentaries and ‘how to’ YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, and read magazines. I don't know about you, but I am constantly reading, constantly researching. Is it out of curiosity that we want to know? Or is it out of desperation, as we subscribe subconsciously to the maxim, "knowledge is power"? Or some other reason we seek wisdom?
Our Lord's parables can be applied not just to the Kingdom of God at large, but to us individually. When we hear about the wheat and the weeds in the Gospel this Sunday (cf. Matt 13:24-30) there is a very personal message.
In the parable, the master tells the slave not to pull up the weeds. “Let them grow together until harvest,” he instructs. Sure, the parable informs us about the nature of the Church. The Church has “weeds”—flaws, sinners, and so forth. No field is perfect, and we should not grow too frustrated when confronted with this imperfection. The Church, though holy, will never be perfect.
“A sower went out to sow...” Our Lord tells us, in arguably his most well-known parable, there are four different types of landing spots for a seed: a path, rocky soil, a thorn bush, and rich soil. The seed, of course, stands for the Word of God and the landing spot is the person. Some of us are rocky soil, where Christ's message and his grace does not take root, while others of us are rich soil, where it does.
Just because we add something in life does not mean have to subtract from something else. Devotion to Jesus Christ is an addition to our lives, and it does not take away from anything else. In fact, the practice of our faith enhances all other parts of our life.
Jesus says in our Gospel today, “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt 10:39). Is it fair to wonder if some of us are afraid to truly enter into the full experience of Jesus because we are afraid of the demands he might make on us? Are we afraid we might lose something by coming to church every Sunday or praying every day or trying to live a holier life? I would challenge those of us who might have this (subconscious) thought. Remember, Jesus is a good God. He will never hurt you, but only enhance your life. “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward” (Matt 10:42).
If you could ask God any question, what would you ask him? Why is there war? Why did my husband die so young? Why did Jesus not make life, and especially the faith, less complicated? Why do I have this debility? Why am I a Bears fan? Maybe those last two are related.
Jesus says in the Gospel on this 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, “nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known” (Matt 10:26). We will ultimately receive the answers to these questions when we are with God in heaven. But it's still worth asking them now, and reflecting on the very nature of the inquiry.
We celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. We believe in a Triune God: three persons all co-equal as God. Though ‘three is one’ appears illogical, the Trinity can be reasoned out…somewhat. Instead of providing the theological rational of how Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all one God and not three Gods, what I’d like to do here is propose more of a ‘what if’ scenario.
We are completing this weekend the "quadfecta" of Sunday Feasts: Ascension, Pentecost, Holy Trinity, and now Corpus Christi. Today, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, we focus on the Eucharist. The crucial passage from John 6, which is our Gospel today, lays out the concept of the real presence. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (Jn 6:56). Saint Paul is fairly explicit as well: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16).
This painting is one of my favorite depictions of both the crucifixion and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I'm afraid I do not know the artist, nor the date it was painted. I came across the canvas in a small chapel in an Italian town in the mountains about a half hour outside of Rome, called Rocca di Papa. (The town is actually where the Pope has a summer residence.) It was about six years ago and I was a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. I was so struck by the image that I pulled out my phone and captured a shot.