My first experience with the Maryknoll Missionary Fathers was in 2011, when I traveled to China to participate in the centennial celebration of their mission there. This trip was truly a missionary experience.
Our journey to holiness is a life-long one that requires constant attentiveness to our human weaknesses. Humility is a key part of our spiritual life. It is through his gift of God that we recognize our failings and begin to perfect the imperfect.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Beautiful and the Damned” is the story of a young socialite couple that lives recklessly in pursuit of happiness. Their story turns tragic as their marriage disintegrates under the weight of their expectations, jealousy, and aimlessness.
Occasionally, people ask me whether priestly celibacy leads to loneliness. Sometimes, they even quote that same passage: “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Without entering into the theological discussions of celibacy and the century of church teachings on the issue, I reply to them, quite honestly, that I have never felt alone as a priest.
Our Gospel reading this weekend continues to address the mistaken and divisive understanding of what greatness means among Jesus’ disciples.
Immediately after being ordained as a deacon, my classmates and I were sent on a missionary experience to the Dominican Republic in a village about two hours away outside the city of San Juan. It was an exciting and somewhat intimidating experience since it was an unfamiliar environment with its own unique challenges. However, we were looking forward to exercising our ministry just weeks after taking our promises to serve the Church.
As we prepare for the upcoming Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, our Gospel reading this Sunday helps us go deeper in our understanding of who Jesus is and the salvation we received through His sacrifice on the Cross. It is Christ’s love willing to endure great suffering in order to restore humanity back to the dignity prior to our fall that saved us. This is also the love that we are asked to live by in order to bring life or something good to others.
Growing up in an open adoption allowed me to spend time with my natural family who lived not too far away from our house. When school was out, I would sometimes stay with my birth family and get to know my three brothers.
Asked how he came up with the name for his jeans apparel company “True Religion,” founder Jeff Lubell said in a Los Angeles Times article, “To me, it meant there’s many religions in the world, but there’s only one real religion — and that’s people. And all the people in the world wear jeans” (“His Jeans have a Cult Following,” Andrea Chang, February 1, 2009). No offense, Mr. Lubell, but that’s not that accurate.
Playing the keyboard and organ in churches for over a decade before finally taking the leap and entering the seminary, I always made it a point to slow down and accentuate the last few lines of the hymn, “Look Beyond,” so as to capture the potency, and sadness, of the request Jesus makes of His disciples to not abandon Him, as others had done, as He reveals Himself — and doesn’t speak metaphorically — to be the very Bread of Life that is going to feed them as they journey to eternal life.