Reflection for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

hear

I rejoice in my
…suffering

Brothers and sisters: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God

Is Paul saying that Jesus’ sufferings were not enough to save us? We might misunderstand him that way, but what Paul really means is that Jesus’ suffering does not deliver us from having to suffer.

Paul was the perfect example of the fact that Christ’s people have to endure suffering so His word might be prclaimed. Paul labored, was beaten many times, continually faced death, and was imprisoned. He had been lashed, shipwrecked, had been put in danger from Jews and Gentiles alike, was threatened in the city and the country; went hungry, thirsty, cold, and exposed. Besides all this, he had the daily pressure of the Churches; he was weakened by every weak member, and was intensely concerned with every Christian who fell led into sin.

We might think that Jesus endured pain and anguish so that our lives would be easy and painless, but Paul says the opposite. Jesus didn’t die and rise to rescue us from the messy inconvenience of dying and rising. Jesus died and rose so that we could share in His death and resurrection. So too with His afflictions: The Head suffered so that the Body and each member can participate in His sufferings.

Paul didn’t think that his sufferings had any innate value. Rather he rejoiced in the fact that his suffering, all the afflictions he endured were for the sake of the Church. They resulted in spreading Jesus’ gospel far and wide. He was bringing the world what Mary longed for – the ability to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His word.

Some people deal with trouble and pain in twisted ways. Some boast of their pain. The reason is not hard to find. When you’ve lost your health, and your marriage, and your kids, and your dignity, and your job, and your friends – when you have nothing else, at least you have your pain. You can still cling doggedly to your loss. Pain sometimes seems to be the only thing we can call our own. Paul won’t let us have that.

Whatever we suffer, Jesus has claimed that too. It all belongs to Him. Jesus doesn’t just want the best parts of us, the strong and healthy members. Jesus claims every last bit of us, even – especially – our weaknesses. Let us give our all to Him and proclaim Him even in our afflictions. Let others sit at our feat to hear His word in our good and bad times.

The role of faith, family, and friends to listen and bring healing

Looking at the truth of some young lives in Schenectady is challenging. It can make us pause, question, and regret or it can spur us to action. Our faith offers that secure place if we open our hearts and parish home to offer the gifts of faith, family, and friendship. Our small church on a small street offers that big and caring heart that will listen.

Congratulations to Prince Sprauve and the students who took the risk to tell the story.

From WTEN: Schenectady High School students share stories of struggle, triumph in ‘Fast Life’ film

SCHENECTADY – Schenectady High School students take to the big screen to get their real-life stories of struggle, triumph and loss out to the public.

“Fast Life” sheds light on the hardships young people face growing up in dangerous Schenectady neighborhoods. The movie was filmed entirely in Schenectady on a budget of just $1,000. The cast is comprised of SHS students. “Fast Life” was written and directed by school district Multimedia Specialist Prince Sprauve.

“This movie is going to be difficult for some people to watch. It’s a story of molestation– you have gangs, you have violence, you have poverty. It’s real life for some of these students. And sometimes life doesn’t have a happy ending,” says Sprauve.

The student cast believes the film is an opportunity for adults to see the role they play in how young people grow up, through hard-hitting, no-holds-barred dialogue and a plot based on true life stories.

“Fast Life” opens at Proctors in Schenectady April 25th at 7pm.

http://WTEN.images.worldnow.com/interface/js/WNVideo.js?rnd=184818;hostDomain=www.news10.com;playerWidth=540;playerHeight=304;isShowIcon=true;clipId=8811756;flvUri=;partnerclipid=;adTag=News;advertisingZone=;enableAds=false;landingPage=;islandingPageoverride=false;playerType=STANDARD_EMBEDDEDscript;controlsType=overlayNEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Reflection for Good Shepherd Sunday

His Sheep hear His voice

I can’t hear you.
Just turn it down a little.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.

Spending time with Jesus is a wonderful experience. Over the past few weeks we listened to the Gospels that tell us of the times the disciples spent with Jesus after the resurrection: Time on the road to Emmaus, time in the locked room, and time at the beach. The Acts of the Apostles tell us that: To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. That plus the three years they had spent with Him during the time of His public ministry was a gift.

In spending time with and listening to Jesus we come to a more robust understanding of the kingdom of God just like the disciples of those days.

I had a priest friend who told me that he spent at least one hour every night praying and listening before the Blessed Sacrament. He noted that to most people the time would seem to leave little remaining for accomplishing tasks during the day. What he found was that he actually had more time, was more productive, and did better ministry.

If we look at the cartoon below (thank you Facebook friends), we see a sheep lounging, with iPod headphones on, the radio going, a magazine, computer, and a television. He is so busy, so distracted, that he cannot hear the Shepherd’s voice. He wonders to himself why he hasn’t heard from the Shepherd.

I can't hear the ShepherdJesus tells us, My sheep hear my voice. This isn’t something that magically happens. We don’t have an automatic turn-off switch that kicks in when Jesus wants to say something to us. We have to make an active listening effort. We need to set aside the distractions AND the worries and seek Jesus’ voice.

Let’s consider our lives like a radio that needs to have its station tuner adjusted every-so-often. We need to re-tune ourselves. That effort starts every Sunday morning in church. We need to set time apart to tune ourselves in to God’s word and the amazing graces He offers us through the sacraments of penance, His word, and the Eucharist. From there we need to make an active effort to fine tune ourselves each day in prayer, or scripture reading, or some other spiritual exercise (including shutting everything off and sitting down, saying to Jesus, ‘Here I am Lord, ready to listen.’)

If we make this effort we will receive the eternal life Jesus promised, in even greater abundance right here and now, and nothing will keep us from Him.

Reflection for the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Can I have my zebra? Ummmm, ooops!

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Moriah was two and was on a cross-country flight home. She wanted her zebra, her favorite stuffed animal and comfort. Mom and dad packed it away. It was in the cargo hold of the plane, unreachable. Moriah cried and complained. Dad explained and explained. No use, the crying got worse. Everyone was looking. Then dad listened. He couldn’t get zebra, but could offer her the next best thing — a father’s comfort. “You wish you had zebra now,” he said to her. “Yeah,” she said sadly.

Moraish’s dad was able, in the midst of all the turmoil, with all the passengers looking at his crying child, to do something very important. He stopped, took a breath, and listened to his child. Listening, he understood what she needed.

Like Samuel, like Moriah’s dad, we need to stop, take a breath, and listen to God who speaks to us daily.

For our part, we need to — as is commonly said to young people — put on our listening ears. God has been speaking to us for eons. Centuries of His word are with us. When we are fearful or confronted by difficult decisions we need to know that we are not alone. God knows us and is with us. He is not an absent, far away father. He is our Father, and He is present to us. He knows the deepest desires we carry within us, as individuals and as a parish community. All we need to do is listen.

His words give us the keys to successful Christianity: Live as a community. Love one another. Don’t be the boss; rather serve all. Welcome the stranger. Speak His word. Offer Jesus to all who seek Him.

We cannot do any of this alone. That is what the Holy Polish National Catholic Church is about. It is ultimately about building a community in each place to listen to Jesus and follow Him.