There is no
going back.

Elijah went over to Elisha and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.” Elijah answered, “Go back! Have I done anything to you?” Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

God tells Elijah to call Elisha as his apprentice. Elijah anoints Elisha in a unique way, by placing his mantle – or cloak – around him.

This is definitely not as dramatic or exotic as the calling of the other prophets. There are no dramatic visions, as Ezekiel had, no cherubim and seraphim like Isaiah had, and no burning bush.

Elisha is uniquely called into apprenticeship and he will exhibit no prophetic ministry until after Elijah is taken up into heaven. Elisha’s call is much like that of Jesus’ disciples – to come and serve, to come and learn.

Elisha, plowing in the fields seems to understand the significance of Elijah’s call and anointing, but also questions. His internal questions are not recounted. Rather, they are made evident in the fact he wanted to go back to his parents to wish the goodbye. He wanted to take his time. Elijah is not amused.

There is no going back. Elisha cannot go back to his former way of life. Elijah prompts Elisha to think about this: “Go back, for what have I done to you?”

Indeed, what has any man or woman done to or for one who is called to follow God’s will? Recognize that God told Elijah what he was to do. God chose Elisha. Elijah was just an instrument to convey God’s message. He didn’t do anything – God did. Think about that Elisha!

Elisha had to provide a real answer to God’s call. What claim does this call make on his life? What ties must he leave behind? When Elisha slaughters the oxen that had previously provided his livelihood, he makes a powerful statement of vocational commitment. He lives his call by offering his life to God and his livelihood for his people.

Jesus isn’t as subtle as Elijah was. No sarcasm in Him. To those who felt the call to follow Him He says, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

As we close out this month of special prayer for priestly and diaconal vocations let us keep Jesus’ call before us. He has called each of us. We are His choice. No man or woman has called us to faith – God has. That call is so powerful and it frees us. Let us set our eyes forward and burn away anything that holds us back.

All children of one
God and model.

Brothers and sisters: Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s children, heirs according to the promise.

This beautiful text from Paul’s letter to the Church at Galatia calls to the forefront the new model we live in Jesus. It reminds us that we are changed and have become children of One God and Father when we have clothed ourselves in Christ.

In putting on Jesus in baptism we take on the new man, the new person. We take up a privileged position with and in Christ. In fact this new union is Paul’s main emphasis in each verse By faith in Christ Jesus, and being baptized into Christ… we are clothed… with Christ, one in Christ Jesus, and belong to Christ. Since Jesus is the Son of God, all who by faith are in Christ are now also sons of God; co-heirs in Him to heaven’s promise and all being children of One Father.

The positive privileges of union with Christ far outweigh and greatly surpass the old set of relationships under the old Law, Jews were the children of God and Gentiles were sinners. But now we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

This must have been a shocking declaration for a Jew to hear. In Jewish literature, “sons of God” was a title of highest honor, used only for the members of righteous Israel, destined to inherit the blessings promised at the end of time. But now all are called “sons of God.” All are equal. All have the same privilege and rank under One Father.

The wonderful day we gained heaven was the day we came to Him, as Paul tells us: through faith and baptism in Christ Jesus. Let us think kindly on that day for in it we were blessed to grab hold of our Heavenly Father, we clung to Him and felt His loving embrace as our Father.

As baptism pictures the initial union with Christ by faith, being clothed with Christ portrays our participation in the moral perfection of Christ. The title sons of God and the two ceremonies of baptism and being clothed with Christ point to the reality of our new relationship with God. We are literally changed and our way of living is opened to perfection. Our new relationship with our Father results in a new relationship with one another.

As we reflect on this Father’s Day, let us think of that man, or those men, in our lives brought us to our Heavenly Father, who gave us the privilege of not just being sons and daughters of men, but true children of God.

The cost of sin.
The reward of love.

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love.”

This example of true repentance, of forgiveness, and of reconciliation is so powerful. Jesus’ shows this power today.

Jesus didn’t just happen unto situations. He knew that in going to the house of the Pharisee He would find the Pharisee’s life laid out before Him. He would see what kind of man he was. The situation was heighted when this “sinful” woman, indeed a prostitute, was waiting there to meet Him. Now the Pharisee would be really tested.

We might have different perspectives on this. Was the real problem the Pharisee’s judgmentalism? Was it his lack of hospitality? Was it his lack of love?

At he core of the lesson is one of love. It is exemplified in the dichotomy between the sinful woman’s love and the kind of love the Pharisee exercised.

It was not that the Pharisee was without love – he certainly loved his family and all those who thought and acted like he did. It was that his love was out of tune with the way God exhibits love. The Pharisee, as a teacher of God’s Law, failed to find the connection between the Law and love.

More than this, Jesus took this opportunity to show the fullness of God’s love. His love. Those with Him were amazed. He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

The fullness of God’s love is exhibited in the perfection of His forgiveness. The love that gives full forgiveness, which allows for a God who would sacrifice Himself completely to bring forgiveness to His people, regardless of sin, is real love.

The cost of sin is separateness, distance, loneliness, and heartache. The woman at the Pharisee’s house knew this. She was completely alone but knew there was only one way to find connection to God once more. Jesus gave this woman the perfection of forgiveness only God can offer. It is the perfection found in only the words God can offer: “Your sins are forgiven.” Let us pay attention and realize that in His forgiveness we have the reward of love. Let us faith in His forgiveness.

This week’s memory verse: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”2 Corinthians 1:3

Pray the week: Lord of all joy and comfort, come to me and show me your peace. Take away all weeping and help me to delight in You.

Do not weep.
Be comforted.

As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.”

Both the Old and New Testament lay out a scenes we see all too often in our city and country. A young man has died. His friends bear his body away. The mourners are there. The mother is weeping. In both scenes there is a powerful encounter with God who comforts and changes things, a glimpse of the after Jesus time. All that is now ours since His redemption.

Elijah seems mad at God – here I am, staying with this woman who is sheltering me, and You let her son die? Fix this. God listens and really does intervene. He raises the young man and Elijah returns him to his mother.

In our Gospel story we see the only son of a widow, her sole support, has died. He is carried out and the procession encounters Jesus. He will not let this situation stand. He intervenes and raises the widow’s son.

These are happy endings to very sad stories. We can relate to these situations. We, who are faithful, are not able to escape tragedy. We ask God – why do You let these things happen? Let us recognize our new truth.

This new after Jesus truth is powerful. It comes in understanding what we have in these after Jesus times – the promise we now hold. That truth is illustrated for us by St. Paul.

In Galatians, Paul recounts the fact that while he was smart, knowledgeable, powerful even – he was a jerk. Yet God would not let that stand. God intervenes and introduces Paul to Jesus. He took what was broken and wrong in Paul and redeemed it. He took Paul and showed him the power of this new day, this new after Jesus time, this time of grace.

If we see difficulty, death, and sorrows in our old ways, in unredeemed ways, we are left with weeping. If we see difficulty, death, and sorrows in after Jesus ways we have powerful comfort, we find the depth of the peace we own. We can think like Paul. For all the bad we encounter in our lives, we have been changed by faith in Jesus. We have a new power and comfort.

Paul saw with new eyes, eyes focused on God’s grace. The old ways of life, the old sorrows no longer mattered. In the after Jesus time we have become truly invincible, saved, redeemed – we are made new by faith. We have God with us, His promise is ours. What we have is incomparable joy and assurance – we own heaven as our inheritance and no difficulty, death, or sorrow can take that from us. We live in the after Jesus time. He changed life for us. This is the after Jesus time. Do not weep.

Still on the early newsletter streak – only hours early, but still…

Thus Joseph who was surnamed by the apostles Barnabas (which means, Son of encouragement)” St. Barnabas’ life is modeled on Jesus, the ultimate Son of Encouragement. Barnabas’ goodness, faith, big heartedness, courage, generosity, humbleness, self-sacrifice, open-mindedness, boldness and the fact that he was full of the Holy Spirit – were also stamped on the believers that he encountered. As today’s sons of encouragement, alive in the Spirit, or willing to be, are we working so that the gifts of the Lord are stamped on our families, community, and the world? Let us focus our efforts on being positive sons of encouragement, lifting up all we encounter – helping them to know the power of Jesus.

Also in our newsletter, the Matsiko Orphan Choir is coming to Holy Name of Jesus. Thank you to all who helped make Memorial Day so special. Like bread? – check out our table at PolishFest. Our Bible study is growing, special Holy Masses this month for healing (June 20th) and on the Commemoration of St, Anthony (June 13th). Considering the priesthood? Praying for dads and vocations. A great and comprehensive list of summer activities and so much more…

You may view and download a copy of our June 2016 Newsletter right here.

Memory verse for this week: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” — John 6:35

Pray the week: Body and Blood of Jesus, fill me and satisfy my hunger for You. Grant me the grace to witness to You in every way.

Fed by what is
simple.

Brothers and sisters, I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you…

A little girl asked her mother, “Why do you cut the ends off the meat before you cook it?” Her mother told her that she thought the meat absorbed the spices better if you did that. “Maybe check with grandpa, because he taught me to cook.” The little girl went to her grandfather and asked the same question. He told her that he believed the meat absorbed cooking juices better if you cut the ends off. “It keeps the meat tender.” He told her that to be really sure she should ask her great-grandmother because she taught him to cook.

The little girl, determined to know why, went ahead and called great-grandma and asked her the same question. Great-grandma told her very simply, “My cooking pot was too small.” Simple answers.

Some of us are newer to the communion table and others have been approaching for years. We seem to all have our reasons and understandings.

We could go into a long theological discussion on the Eucharistic moment, and our encounter with the Divine in communion. We could consider the Church as a single body fed by the Lord. Those are great lines of thought that should be pursued as time and prayer allow. But there is something much simpler.

We can liken God to the deepest lake or the highest mountain. Just by gazing and encountering Him, standing in His presence, we instinctively know and feel His majesty. God speaks to our hearts by His mere presence. We are here in His house, in His presence in a very special way, and we can simply know that we are with Him. That is beautiful, but there is more.

A theologian or philosopher would want to not only scale the mountain or dive into lake, they would want to explore its every nook and cranny. That is wonderful, but we don’t have to go that far. God provides an answer.

The wonderful thing about God is that He is not wiling to just be looked at. He wants a full-on encounter with us at the deepest level. While some of us might be uncomfortable climbing a mountain or diving into a lake to experience it full on, God does not wait for us to do so. He brings the refreshment of the lake, the depth of His love and care, and the majesty of His being and goodness right into our lives. He does not stand apart, separated from us. He is with us.

God answers our most basic need – to be fed, to be strengthened, to be made complete, and to fully experience Him. He comes to us in the Eucharistic moment – giving us His eternity – for which we proclaim our thanks and then He simply feeds our every need. He is simply and completely with us.

This week’s memory verse: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy SpiritMatthew 28:19

Pray the week: Holy Trinity, fill me with Your mutual love. Grant me the grace to love as You do.

Is the Trinity
practical?

“But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

Sometimes we think of the Trinity as three gods who get along really well and never argue or disagree. Of course, that would be incorrect – there is but one God, not three. We believe in One God in three different Persons.

Neither is the Trinity just three manifestations of God; God showing up in different costumes. This is modalism. Modalism says that there is one God and He appears as the Father and then as the Son and now as the Spirit. Rather, God is three Divine, Eternal and Distinct Persons.

The Trinity is also uncreated and eternal. The Father did not create the Son or Spirit. The Father is not “the main God” and the Son or Spirit some inferior god or that the Father created the Son and Spirit before anything else.

So the truth of the Trinity is not saying there are three different gods or three different manifestations of God or that God the Father created some lesser, inferior gods. Scripture and Church Tradition are consistent in teaching that there is One God existing in Three Eternal Persons, One God in unity, eternally existing in three Persons, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit – equal in nature, distinct in person, and subordinate in duties.

Beyond the technical explanation of what the Holy Trinity is or is not, what is the practical application of the Trinity for us?

St. John states: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. John identified himself in his writing as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He knew that when we begin to understand God’s love, like he did, when we see God in the way He really is, we experience life differently and we live differently.

When we come to understand the unity in Trinity of the Father, Son and Spirit we can better appreciate and understand what it really means. He did not need us, but created us as an outpouring of His love. He wants only that in knowing Him we come to pour out that kind of love each day. The mutuality, love, unity, self-subordination, and perfection of God flowing from love is not just a fact of the Trinity but more so a call to us. Knowing is not enough. The Trinity calls us to compassion for those who don’t know love and a desire to share that love and life. It is our living life in the Trinity.