“Do not touch anything in this store.” “Hands in your pockets. I mean it.” “No. No. Don’t touch.” Seems we are constantly on our children about keeping their hands to themselves, especially in certain stores where if they break something, it becomes ours. Touching can lead to ownership. Simple.
Today as Fr. Mark read the Gospel about Jesus healing the leper and referred to yesterday’s reading of the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law, he commented on the importance of Jesus’ touch. He could have just said the words and they would have been healed but instead He touched them. My mind immediately went to the idea of telling my children a million times not to touch things that did not belong to them. But these people, people everywhere, kept coming to Jesus because they wanted to belong to Him. Jesus owned up to the power to heal the sick and the lost and they bought into all He had to offer. Who wouldn’t?
Many times I have thought before giving money to a street person, “If I give it to him, he will expect it every time I see him.” If I touch him now, he’s mine. I’ve bought into his misery and his need. Well, so what! So what if I have to give him a little something every time I see him. Maybe it’s time for me to get my hands out of my pockets and touch someone. I certainly cannot heal with these hands but God can work through them some other way. We’re all so worried about breaking something. Well, it’s already broken so let’s work together to fix it. Let’s touch someone today and maybe tomorrow and who knows, maybe all week. Let’s not worry about what others think and start making a difference. Let’s buy into these Gospel messages and own up to our beliefs. It’s not easy. People we touch may rely on us again and again. And then again, that may be just the ticket we need.
Funny how things happen. I fully intended on using this picture of the display in St. Mary’s for a blog about my book, Visiting Mary, because quite frankly the summer is a great time to take the opportunity while on vacation to visit the many Shrines and Grottoes that we have in the U.S. But I became immediately distracted with the idea that the picture I took was just too busy looking, too distracting. Which, coupled with the Gospel readings this week, prompted me to realize how easily we are distracted by the busy background of our lives. If you’re like me, you may take the readings from Scripture and try to focus on sharing God’s message throughout your day, whether to your family or your friends or your co-workers or complete strangers. We try to take what we believe His message is for the day and live it out, shine the light, not leaving it “under a bushel basket”. We try to live the Commandments and the Beatitudes. We may leave our morning prayer time or morning Mass and think, “I’ve got this. I can do this all day long. I am focused and today I will simply be kind to everyone I meet. I will love God and my neighbor.” Then, bam. Life causes distractions. Our focus is blurred by the busy background. We can no longer see what’s really important. The next morning we start all over again. And the next morning, again. And little by little we realize that life is just busy. The times when we cannot see Jesus or His Mother against all the background “stuff” is the time when we probably need them the most. The times when we cannot hear Jesus or His Mother against all the noise is the time when they probably should be heard the loudest. If we stay focused, we can see light. If we listen, we can speak truth. If we keep Him in our hearts all day, we can truly love. The ways of this world keep us hopping from one “thing” to the next. The ways of God keep us centered on what’s important.
P.S.The OT reading today was Elijah trying to find God in the wind and the earthquakes but only finding Him in a whisper. At some point today, or maybe all day, may we quiet ourselves enough to hear His message in the whispers. And the message before the Gospel reading,
” Alleluia, alleluia. Shine like lights on the world, as you hold on to the word of life. Alleluia, alleluia.” AMEN.
I believe it is fitting on this Feast Day of St. Therese not to over think what Jesus expects of us, how we are to act and to react, what we are to do and how we are to live. “To live out of love means to banish all fear, every memory of past faults. I see no mark of my sins, in a moment love burnt everything.” St. Therese makes us think about simple acts of love. She makes us contemplate true acts of Mercy. She lived love.
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us to go out, “Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.” I have to think that He is speaking directly to us on the heels of the messages of Pope Francis, at the nearing of the Year of Mercy, on the Feast Day of St. Therese, reminding us all to simply love one another. Each day, we are asked to go out. Each day we are asked to carry nothing from the day before, to start fresh and new, to hold no grudges, to be reminded of no bitterness, no anger. Each day we are asked not simply to greet people, not simply to keep passing them by with hardly an acknowledgement. Each day we are to have an encounter. We are to look into the eyes of those we have worked with for years and see them. We are to be open to a conversation. We are to see inside the panhandler, the cranky secretary, the obnoxious partner, the overbearing spouse, the annoying sibling. Every day, just as St. Therese in her own community, we are to be love to those in our family and in our community and in our workplace. Some will accept love and some will not. Some days we may feel like we could get eaten alive by the harshness of this world. Jesus tells us to shake it off and keep moving. He tells us not to bounce around from one to another but to stay focused. Love. Each day. Banish fear. Erase the past. Be Merciful. May we all strive to be the Body of Christ, the work of His hands and the love of Heart.
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”
Jesus’ reminder today from the Law speaks volumes. Taken one little section at a time, we have much work to do. First and foremost, we most do. We are called to action. We are asked to put ourselves in motion. And, not for ourselves but for others. Jesus does not stop with merely getting us going and telling us to be there for one another and physically do something but here’s the big word in the statement…whatever. So, here we go. We are not to pick and choose what we are going to do today. Jesus puts people, tasks in our paths and tells us to do…for others. What is it Lord that you want us to do for these people you have put in our lives? And He is clear. “What is it that you would want them to do for you?”
As humans, we love for people to serve us in some way, shape or form. It’s natural to love being cared for. Who wouldn’t want to be served meals and have our work load made lighter and our feet rubbed. All these things and more that we love as simply being human beings are all the things we are asked to do for others. Whatever. Do we think in this manner? Do we stop in our day and think “Man, I would love a cup of coffee but before I get myself something, I wonder if anyone else in my path might need a drink?” I really have never thought about it. Oh sure, if someone comes along and asks me for something, I am more than willing to do something about it but I have to say, I have rarely thought to do something for them that I would want for myself. That is a much taller order.
I also would like to think today about all of those along my daily walk who do for me. I have an entire crew around me each day that help make me a better person, that comfort me and help me through the day and I am not really sure they know how grateful I am. They help me carry my daily crosses as well as bring me simple joys. They set themselves aside and do for me. Most times, whatever.
Today I have plenty to think and pray about. I have those whom Jesus sets before me to do whatever for and I have those to be grateful for as they do for me. Take time. Do. Whatever. And be grateful for those who help us in our daily walk. With. Whatever.
I worked for several years putting together a little daily meditation, Jesus At My Side, published by Our Sunday Visitor. I gathered all the words in Scripture that were spoken by Jesus and meditated on how they pertain to today. I am no Scripture scholar and do not pretend to be. No, these are not interpretations of what I believe Jesus was trying to tell us. The book is merely what I believe Jesus wants me to do with His words. Each year as I meditate on these words, I hear something new. The idea of the book is that readers would take His words and use them in their own ways, meditate on what He is saying to them today. My meditations are merely an idea of what I have heard from Him. Today and many times, Jesus words are right in sync with the Gospel reading for the day. Again, we hear about “a year acceptable to the Lord”. Again, I shall try to make this year acceptable.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”Luke 4:18,19
A year acceptable to the Lord! As we walk around or watch television , we can easily see how unacceptable our world is today. In our communities, we see children who cannot play together and neighbors who squabble over property lines and adults talking bad about one another, slandering names. In our cities we see violence and poverty and stealing and cheating. In our countries we see war and death and destruction. Unacceptable. Prayer is the answer. Prayer changes things.Mary has delivered the message more than once to pray the rosary for peace; for our neighborhoods, for our cities, for our countries.
Jesus tells us that He has come to clear up all these problems. He is right here in our midst day in and day out and He was sent to free the world of our own misery. To bring glad tidings.To liberate.To recover. To free. We must believe in Jesus’ power to save our neighborhoods and our cities and our countries. He is sent to free us from our blindness and to open our eyes to the gifts He offers. Through Him, we can make a change. Listen to His words. Help make this a year acceptable to the Lord. Pray.
“He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick-no food, no sack, no money in their belts.” Today’s Gospel message from Mark instructs us to let it all go. As we are fast approaching the 40 days of Lent, we hear from Jesus that we will not need anything as we walk with Him. He is our all in all. We can leave the technology and the grind of every day life that we tend to overload on our own accord and we can trust Him. We can strip away all the anxiety and all the fear and we can simply walk. Jesus calls us to simplify our lives. He calls us to chill out. We tend to make more out of this life than necessary. The Scripture messages are for us today. Leave all our “stuff” behind and for 40 days, journey with Him. We will not be disappointed.