Every year as we begin the season of Lent, someone will ask me the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” I could always remember from a very young age looking at Lent as a time in which you “gave something up.” What confused me, especially as I grew older, was why I would give something up that was not good for me and then, after 40 days, go back to it?
As a kid growing up, my parents instilled in me that all I needed to do to be happy and successful was to be myself. I could remember early in my life, especially in school, times in which I needed to be something else or “imitate” someone else to get attention, prestige or acclamations.
This year, St. Peter Claver Church celebrates its 100th year of establishment. The founding pastor, Servant of God Msgr. Bernard J. Quinn founded this church in honor of St. Peter Claver. This Jesuit missionary priest ministered to the Black slaves who were in Colombia. He dedicated his priestly ministry to ultimately become a slave among the slaves.
My parish has a custom of which I am very fond. When the time comes for the announcements at Sunday Mass, the commentator begins by welcoming those who are worshipping with us for the first time.
“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed!” What might happen if a latter-day Jonah were to stroll down Flatbush Avenue shouting something like that about Brooklyn?
God is going to call you. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, God is going to call you. Of that, faith gives me confidence. As for how or when or through whom, though, I don’t know!
That is the mystery with which the Gospel reading for this solemnity presents us. Mark’s Gospel tells us how “John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” and how people “of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.”
Because St. John’s is a Catholic university, every undergraduate student is required to take courses in theology and philosophy, no matter what their major might be. Whether they are biology majors aspiring to careers in medicine, or business majors aiming to be leaders in the corporate world, their theology courses aim to help them understand the teachings and traditions that make a Catholic university distinctive and to ground them in values that can guide them along life’s journey.
I used to visit my grandmother when I was a child during school vacations. Grandma Dorothy suffered from undiagnosed diabetes for many years. They thought she had a bad case of eczema that caused her left shin area to break into a really big horrific-looking sore. We would often help her clean the open wound morning and late afternoon to prevent further infection and hopefully help it to heal.
We begin our Scripture reflection this weekend with David feeling conscious of the fact that he was comfortably staying in a lavish house while the Ark of the Covenant, where the Lord dwells, was inside a humble tent.