July 25th: Today, on the Feast of Saint James, Marlene Etienne shares a Gospel reflection with us. Take a look at her beautiful thoughts on the greatness to which God calls us:

A reflection on Matthew 20:20-28

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” (Matthew 20:28)

The world tells us that if you are great at something – being an athlete, being a talented singer, or being good in business – you are not like every else. You are to be admired, and everyone should be wanting to serve you and celebrate you.

Yet, Jesus tells us that the greatest shall be the servant.

Is Jesus telling us that the ones with the greater abilities should put them at the service of the ones with the least? I think that’s true. He also means that we don’t need to be super talented to be great in His eyes. We only need enough love in our hearts to reach out to those around us whenever the need or opportunity presents itself.

The best example of the greatness one shows by being a servant to others was shown to us by The Blessed Virgin Mary. Upon learning that she was to be the mother of Christ, the second person of the Trinity, she hastened to offer herself in the service of her cousin Elizabeth. Her greatness was her humility.

There are so many ways we can imitate Mary and be found great in the sight of God. For example, my friend’s sister was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago. When her sister told her, my friend responded, “I am going to be with you every step of the way.” True to her words, she accompanied her sister to every doctor’s appointment, sat through tests, spoke words of encouragement while awaiting test results, and was there for every treatment. She cooked her sister’s favorite foods and provided comfort and emotional support.

My friend and her sister were always family, but they emerged from this experience with a deeper appreciation for each other. They became deeper friends and grew in their ability to love – the greatest gift of all. 

Go be a Servant today. Jesus is asking you to. He will put you in Great company: His Mother.

-Marlene Etienne (emarle1977@yahoo.com)

 

— PAST REFLECTIONS —

July 17th: Take a look at Rob Harrigan’s thoughts on today’s daily Gospel reading. Rob, a parishioner for many years, has recently gotten more involved at the parish!

A reflection on Matthew 11: 25-27:

“Today’s reading is challenging to understand without the context of what Jesus said before and after this passage. 

In Mt 11:20-24, Jesus rebukes the towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida. In spite of witnessing his Word and the miracles he performed, Chorazin and Bethsaida rejected Him, not believing nor repenting. He illustrates the consequences of not following God’s revelation: ‘But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.’

Harsh words.

In today’s passage, Jesus teaches who the Father reveals himself to: those with a humble and childlike disposition: ‘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 the childlike.’

He is teaching us to give great praise to God like he praises God. And, to know that if we know Jesus like the childlike do, we will know the Father. 

Finally, in Matthew 28-30 Jesus invites us to put our trust in Him: ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.’

Takeaway? Trust in Jesus, humbly and meekly, and he will take care of us.”

 – Rob Harrigan (robharrigan@yahoo.com)

July 10th: This post-vacation week, we gave our parishioners a break and took a reflection from another voice within our Church: (now Saint) John Paul II.

Take this chance to sit and pray with his reflection on the Kingdom of God, which Jesus commissions in today’s Gospel reading from Matthew

“The kingdom of God cannot be detached either from Christ or from the Church. Christ not only proclaimed the kingdom, but in him the kingdom itself became present and was fulfilled… The kingdom of God is not a concept, a doctrine, or a program subject to free interpretation, but it is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God. If the kingdom is separated from Jesus, it is no longer the kingdom of God which he revealed. The result is a distortion of the meaning of the kingdom, which runs the risk of being transformed into a purely human or ideological goal, and a distortion of the identity of Christ, who no longer appears as the Lord to whom everything must one day be subjected (cf. 1 Cor 15:27).

Likewise, one may not separate the kingdom from the Church… Christ endowed the Church, his body, with the fullness of the benefits and means of salvation. The Holy Spirit dwells in her, enlivens her with his gifts and charisms, sanctifies, guides and constantly renews her. The result is a unique and special relationship which… confers upon her a specific and necessary role.

…This is seen especially in her preaching, which is a call to conversion. Preaching constitutes the Church’s first and fundamental way of serving the coming of the kingdom in individuals and in human society…

Finally, the Church serves the kingdom by her intercession, since the kingdom by its very nature is God’s gift and work, as we are reminded by the gospel parables and by the prayer which Jesus taught us. We must ask for the kingdom, welcome it and make it grow within us; but we must also work together so that it will be welcomed and will grow among all people, until the time when Christ “delivers the kingdom to God the Father” and “God will be everything to everyone” (cf. 1 Cor 15:24, 28).

– Saint John Paul II served as pope from 1978 until 2005. 

 

July 3rd: We hear from Mary Beth Zurat on today’s Gospel reading (the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle). Mary Beth, a parishioner for years, has recently joined our parish staff.

A reflection on: John 20:24-29

Poor Thomas – he is the only apostle to be branded with an epithet. We don’t refer to Peter as Cowardly Peter for denying Christ or to Judas as Traitorous Judas, but Thomas is forever known as Doubting Thomas. I have always loved this Bible passage and felt a connection to Thomas beginning with the fact that he was absent when Jesus first appeared: Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 

This would have been my luck. Where was he? I’ve often wondered: Running late? Did he oversleep? Stuck in Jerusalem rush-hour traffic? Out picking up lunch for everybody? I imagine his initial reaction to hearing the incredible news as something along the lines of “Seriously guys?! You have got to be kidding me!” before issuing his unabashed ultimatum.

Why wasn’t he there and why did Jesus choose that specific time to appear? Surely He knew Thomas would be absent, just as He knew Thomas would be present a week later when He appeared again. Was it a test? If so, Thomas failed, as we all too often do. But instead of condemning Thomas for his lack of faith, Jesus exhibits a pity and patience for him that should humble us and quell any inclinations to question God’s mercy. Ultimately it was Thomas out of all the disciples who experienced the most intimate interaction with Christ by touching his wounds. It was then that Doubting Didymus became Trusting Thomas. Christ speaks to all of us when he says to Thomas, Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.

We live at a time of immediate substantiation with a pics or it didn’t happen mentality. We seek truth and signs seemingly either to prove or disprove God’s existence: if things are going well we trust He is there with us; if trials befall us we question whether He truly cares about us. And yet, there is irrefutable proof every day of God’s magnificence and profound love for us that we fail to recognize. In his poem “Pied Beauty,” 19th-century English convert and Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins writes of these simple splendors, 

Glory be to God for dappled things –

   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow…

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)…

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.

There are countless opportunities and sacred moments every day to trust like Thomas and be awed by Christ’s love for us. The summit of which is, of course, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. There is no greater manifestation of Christ’s love for us or reason for us to exclaim with infinite gratitude, reverence and adoration, My Lord and My God!

– Mary Beth Zurat (marybeth.olschurch@gmail.com)