Dear Faith Family,
I don’t know about you, in my worst moments, I tend to think that I don’t have an issue with humility. During this frustrating pandemic, it has been so easy to see the faults in others. There is something about being cooped in in our homes for so long, that a lot of us have built a habit of being more critical of others. When I see others messing up, I compare myself to them, knowing that I haven’t been caught in some crazy scandal. This is not very healthy and most definitely not an exercise of humility.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ declaration of “the first shall be the last” is something that has been tattooed into our brains. Like many good things that we hear, sometimes we take it for granted. We obviously are great people, but Jesus gives us clear instruction on how to strengthen the kingdom — through humility.
How can we truly believe Jesus’ declaration and truly live it out? Servant leadership and the willingness to sacrifice themselves for their neighbors. I think this is what true humility looks like.
Although we may not have arguments spoken out loud about why we are the holiest or the greatest examples, we can seldom fall into that trap of thinking it without saying it aloud. When we judge others improperly, it is roundabout way of “peacocking” our holy feathers.
So does this mean we infringe on others to implore them to live their lives more fully? No. But the only way we can help others onto a righteous path is through humility.
Must we deny our own talents for the sake of humility? No. Years ago, Father Patrick told me that true humility is actually knowing your talents and using them for the betterment of others.
So don’t let Jesus’ message in the gospel make you feel that you are to never speak up. It is not a cautionary gospel to let us know to stay out of each other’s business, but rather, within this same gospel he gives us an example of how to love; the willingness to die for others.
Through Christ’s death and Resurrection, comes true humility. The willingness to die for the sake of others is so centrally Christian, that it is necessary for us to do so. If we want to bring others closer to God, we must be willing to sacrifice ourselves for them.
Dear friends on the journey,
Throughout my younger years, I spent a lot of time living out my faith. I had wonderful examples in my grandparents, parents, teachers, and mentors so it was natural for me to become an altar server, a weekly mass goer, teen peer leader, summer camp leader, Eucharistic minister, fundraiser, catechist for preschoolers, teens, adults including parents baptizing children, a parish secretary and later a business manager. I was doing a lot of disciple’s work in God’s vineyard.
But about seven years ago, I realized I was “doing” but without really “being” … being in relationship with God, at least not in the way that I thought possible. So I embarked on a journey to change this. I learned about different spiritualities, forms of prayers, engaged in spiritual direction, went on retreats, had thoughtful conversations about faith, and through these I began and continue to deepen my relationship with God. I encountered Jesus for the first time. Don’t get me wrong, I had strong faith. I was a believer. But my eyes, mind and heart were opened to what it means to be in relationship with God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit.
I don’t say all that to toot my own horn but to echo the message in today’s second reading from James.
Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
We need both faith and works. When we are rooted in relationship with God, when we love God and rest in God’s love for us, the automatic response then is to give that love to others. In loving others, it is necessary to return inward to be nourished and guided by God. Faith is rhythmic, that ebbs and flows, inhaling and exhaling, receiving and living.
Today begins our three-week ministry fair where we showcase the ministries that support that rhythm. Not only those ministries where you live out your discipleship and “do” for God and others like James affirms, but also those ministries that feed and support you spiritually, pastorally and to just “be” with God. You know the analogy of the airplane oxygen mask: put yours on first then help others.
Perhaps you need to care for yourself first, or maybe you’re ready to give.
Wherever you are in your faith rhythm, I invite you to come and see after all morning Masses.Are you in a place of needing to breathe in,wanting to give, or desiring both?
Faith Life Minister
1930 - 2021
Monday, September 20, 2021
Padre Serra Parish
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Padre Serra Parish
I got up early that day and made my way to the gazebo nestled against the hills where cars can be seen but not heard. I sat down by myself to ponder the beauty of God’s creation around me. I listened and watched with a smile as a single quail graced a corner beam repeating a most beautiful sound. Soon, two hummingbirds approached the quail in what seemed to be a choreographed dance only they can do while the melody continued. I sat in awe watching for some time until the birds (all three of them) flew away in the same direction and together. I spent the rest of the weekend pondering what I had just witnessed. What was God saying to me? Had He just invited me to be opened, to truly listen?
In our Gospel this weekend, we read of a deaf man who is cured of his affliction at the hands of Jesus and his spoken word, “Ephphatha” meaning “Be opened.” By doing so, Jesus tore down the barriers that kept the man from living life to the fullest. I suspect this is at least one of the lessons for me as I continue to reflect on what I witnessed that morning.
Each of us is provided opportunities throughout our lifetime to be opened to God’s message of love and life. The fact that we all have a chance to witness His message differently shows the perfection in this great plan. For you, perhaps you will become more open when looking through the eyes of a loved one, in serving the poor and oppressed, or while participating in many of Padre Serra’s Ministries. Great news is that you do not have to limit yourself to just one such event.