Today we celebrate the feast of St Paul Miki and his companions. It always takes me back to the second homily I ever gave at St. Meinrad….all about blood.
Today we celebrate St Agatha, who died in 251. She died a tortuous death. She fought against her attackers with all she had. A group of men wanted their way with her. She resisted with everything. They cut off her breasts. This woman suffered so much, and never left Jesus. So many people today–and probably then, too–have to suffer so little…and in the face of that, leave Jesus in a heartbeat. May St Agatha inspire us all.
Today’s first reading resonates with a lot of folks. “Job spoke, saying: Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?” Job wonders…why are we here? I eat, sleep, work. Eat. Sleep. Work. Eat. Sleep. Work. And so on.
Lots of young folks start to ask that question as they grow up. Why are we here? We go to school, so we can go to more school, and more school….and then a job, and another job. What’s the point? Why???
What gives it all meaning is love….and God is love. Love is in the midst of it all. When Jesus is there, love is part of everything. He’s part of the school. Part of the work. Part of the family. Part of what otherwise would just be drudgery.
Can you imagine life without God? A life without love? (Remember…God = love). My gosh it’s depressing. It’s drudgery and nothing more.
But with God, with love…the life is worth it
That’s why people search for Jesus so naturally. We need to know there is more. We know we were made of something more. And we discover that “more” in our Jesus.
Look at our Gospel. I love this: “When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door.”
They bring the sick, the searching and sorrowful to Jesus, and it turns out that’s everybody: the whole town shows up at his door. Because we’re all looking for Jesus….because without Jesus life is meaningless! Which is another way of saying, with love, life is meaningless! There’s no joy, no love, no nothing…just Eat. Sleep. Work. Eat. Sleep. Work.
Praise Jesus now and forever….for all he gives us….for giving us himself!
Today we celebrate the Presentation of Jesus–how Jesus was brought by Mary and Joseph into the temple 40 days after his birth. Jesus, who is the Light, entered into that temple…and light filled the whole place. This is why we have the beautiful tradition of a procession into the church today. We are meant to carry candles with us wherever we go. To fill the world with light.
“If you become Christ’s you will stumble upon wonder upon wonder, and every one of them true.”
— St. Brendan of Birr
Today we see that David is sorry for having taken a census. What’s wrong with keeping count? Well, perhaps it is this: a human is more than a number. We tend to value ourselves on numbers–test scores, rebounds or goals in a game, weight, income, etc. Even I as a priest value myself on numbers–how many confessions are there, how many people are at Mass or youth group or this or that. There is a tendency to reduce things to numbers. But we are more than numbers. St John Bosco’s feast is today. This man is patron of young men because he worked tirelessly to raise up boys into good men. He knew their names, their stories, and he loved them in their uniqueness. That’s how Jesus loves us too. No matter the numbers.
Here’s this from Vigils today, from the pen of St John Bosco:
Let us regard those boys over whom we have some authority as our own sons. Let us place ourselves in their service. Let us be ashamed to assume an attitude of superiority. Let us not rule over them except for the purpose of serving them better.
This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized, and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so he bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.
They are our sons, and so in correcting their mistakes we must lay aside all anger and restrain it so firmly that it is extinguished entirely.
David was an old man, and his sons began to wonder: who will be the next king? They all wanted the post. Absolom, the third eldest son, starts to kill the competition. Then he decides: better to kill the king, my dad….then the kingdom will be mine. He sets out and the funny thing happens that his hair gets stuck in the tree, and his horse keeps going while he just hangs there from the tree. You can’t make this stuff up. David’s army hears he’s there and goes and kills him. David cries when he hears this, so much did he love his son. He loved him even though he knew he wanted to kill him. There are folks out to get all of us. No one is universally liked. People even call me and whine about things and yell at me. The trick is: we love them in the midst of it. We love people even when we see the ugliest side of humanity–greed, addiction, anger, instability, racism, violence. There is never an excuse not to love. Jesus sees some ugly sides of humankind in the Gospel…and he loves it all away.