Recently I watched the movie “Hacksaw Ridge,” the true story of a man named Desmond Doss who enlisted in the army in World War II and refused to take up a rifle. At first, he is seen as a coward and a fool. Then he was categorized as a conscientious objector. His aim was to be a medic in the midst of violent battles with the enemy. Through his faith, courage, love for our servicemen, and determination, he singly saved the lives of many of the men he was with on the battlefield on the island of Okinawa by staying up all night alone on a battlefield full of dead bodies and wounded men, and then lowering those alive to safety and the opportunity for medical treatment. A man first thought to be a coward and a fool became a sign of hope to his fellow soldiers and received the Medal of Honor at the end of the war for his bravery and compassion for the wounded. Desmond Doss saw beyond the need to defeat the enemy to the need for those in peril to be treated for their wounds and given medical attention.READ MORE
In the past few weeks we have seen the destruction of human life and property through the power of nature. Our hearts go out to those victimized by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Not only do our hearts go out, we responded not just with pity and sympathy, but with monetary and practical donations of material goods. A lot of work needs to be done, but those suffering know they are not alone. We continue to pray for those suffering from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that they will find comfort and relief through our concern, love, assistance, and prayers.
Today’s Gospel presents us with instances of financial and self-inflicted suffering. In this familiar parable from Matthew 18:21-35, we see a man in great debt about to be sold into slavery along with his wife and children and his property also sold to pay off the debt. In desperation he cries out for mercy to his creditor, pleading for more time. The creditor is so good that he goes way beyond extending the time, he forgives the whole debt. What a relief! But as the parable continues we see the relief does not lead to humble gratitude. Instead the forgiven debtor confronts someone who owes him a much smaller amount and demands immediate repayment. When it is not forthcoming he has the one indebted to him imprisoned. Why? His attitude and actions are founded on selfishness. He is so wrapped up in himself that he does not see the forgiveness he has received as a gift nor does he see how powerful it is to be forgiven.READ MORE
Last week the second Beatitude came to mind in a few ways for me. “Blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) August 31st would have been the 96th birthday of my father who died nineteen years ago. I think of him and pray for him everyday. He was a good, humble, hard working man who knew who he was and who he wanted to be: a husband and father. I am comforted by his goodness, love, and humility and ask him to pray for me every day. I am also comforted by the fact that one day I will be with him forever in God’s Kingdom. These past two weeks we have seen the mourning of those who are suffering the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the other states. How sad to see the death, destruction, and great efforts needed to recover and rebuild. But how comforting to see the goodness in the hearts of all of us who are reaching out to them. Last weekend we took up a second collection as a practical way to say we care and we want to help. That is a comfort to them and to us. They see our love and concern and we have the privilege of responding with love to those in our country who are in great need at this time.READ MORE
“I wish I did not say that!” Sometimes we see the harm our words have done or the tension they bring between ourselves and others. When we regret something we should not have said in the first place, we put ourselves in the position of having to apologize and find a way to make peace. Then there are those times when we reveal what we think and how we feel about ourselves and others and later we regret putting such trust in those to whom the words were spoken. In last Sunday’s Gospel, we saw Jesus asking the disciples who they perceived Him to be: “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’” (Matthew 16:15-19) Not only does Jesus rejoice that Peter has given the right answer, He goes on to say that Peter will be a crucial and central part of the Church and gives him authority to speak and act in His name. Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday’s passage. Here we see Jesus disappointed at Peter’s response to further revelation: “From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, ‘God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.’ He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.’” (Matthew 16:21-23) Does Jesus regret what we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel? Peter speaks his mind about Jesus prediction of rejection and death. Things are going well, why fool with success? That is a very human reaction. But from experience, we know that one of the constants in life is change. The joyful reception and welcome Jesus receives from the crowds will turn into rejection, mockery, injustice, and crucifixion. Peter does not want that to happen. That is because he feels very comfortable and optimistic about the status quo. Notice that Jesus does not say to Peter that He can no longer trust him to be the foundation of the Church nor that He can trust him to speak and act in His name.READ MORE