Over the recent Corpus Christi weekend, I had an opportunity to accompany a buddy of mine on a whirlwind, three- and-a-half-day trip to Istanbul, Turkey, where the wonderful beauty, charm, culture, and friendly, pious people that make up this ancient city, famously once known and established by Roman emperor Constantine the Great as Constantinople, left a lasting impression on me — the over 900 photos and six videos in my phone from Istanbul lay claim to this.
Back in January, Pope Francis asked that this Sunday be observed as World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, since July 26th is the feast of Saints Joachim & Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
In my last article, I wrote about the Gospel’s special place in my heart as the reading at my ordination. Today’s Gospel holds a similar place in my heart, but for a very different reason. I was ordained June 7th, and on August 4th, the memorial of St. John Vianney, patron of priests, my first pastor died.
You are still chosen. You are worthwhile. You may not be aware of it, or you may be wondering what specific purpose God has for you. You might even believe that you have squandered it by your sinfulness, but (spoiler alert) even Darth Vader had some good in him. Now is not too late.
As a student in our college seminary, I often walked by a Department of Sanitation depot located on the way to the nearest bus stop. I began my priestly formation in the fall of the year 2000, and a year later, terrified with the rest of my city, sought hope. Oddly enough it was the Department of Sanitation that provided me with a phrase I had never heard before but instantly loved: “Freedom isn’t free.”
A year of lost hugs! Virtual hugs aren’t the same, just as watching the Food Network on television won’t ever be as satisfying as the first bite of a crisp, juicy apple. A hug shared with a grandparent, a handshake with a friend, even an elbow bump with a neighbor: how powerful a simple touch can be!
Awesome as this surely is, God’s definitive answer to Job and to all the raging storms of human suffering is the most paradoxical display of divine might, of power that is made perfect in weakness. It is about this power that Paul writes to the Corinthians in Sunday’s second reading.
Yes, like the mustard seed, the kingdom of God starts small. So too does the Church, the community of those who put their trust in Jesus, which began as the smallest of seeds, through God’s abundant grace now puts forth large branches under whose generous shade many can take shelter.
Among the perks that come with teaching, researching, and writing about the Bible (in addition to the surpassing blessing that is the study of the Word of God), is the opportunity to learn from and with so many brilliant colleagues in biblical studies and theology. I deeply appreciate the scholarship of fellow Catholics, Christians from many other faith communities, and Jewish colleagues as well.
We celebrate this weekend one of the greatest mysteries of our Christian faith. There have been many theologians who tried to give eloquent explanations about the Blessed Trinity. But like the saying goes, “answers lead to more questions.” We can only really appreciate this with the “eyes of faith.”