In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to the need to put the Lord first in our lives. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Jesus is saying that a casual relationship with the Lord is not good enough; it will not sustain us, but it is a right start, a new beginning. We are called to open our hearts to the Lord each day of our lives. We are to love God first, and through that love, all other relationships will come into proper alignment and perspective.
The Gospel of Matthew speaks about a new beginning of life founded on love and mercy, but above all, in the person of Jesus himself. Today, Jesus claims the most special place in our own lives and hearts, more important than even our dearest loved ones. American spiritual writer Henry Nouwen captures the essence of what Jesus is asking us to do in today’s gospel when he writes: It is not the right question: “Am I strong enough to be the proclaimer of the gospel?” The right question is, “Am I sufficiently weak?” It means that I am at home enough with my own weaknesses, boundaries, with my own fragility. Do I accept them? Can I live with my imperfection? Do I bear my crosses with Jesus’ help?
Henry Nouwen writes about the power of ministry comes from embracing our own imperfection, weakness, and frailty as he described true discipleship: “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” In other words, the more the disciples are connected to Jesus, the more others will believe them.
As Jesus said, “He who sees me, sees the Father,” also applies to you and I as disciples: “He who sees us (the community of Holy Family) sees Jesus.” Walking with Jesus means leaving old patterns, being here and now with what is now. What patterns are Jesus asking us to change? God loves me like I am, whole – with fragility, weaknesses, failures. How am I at peace with my own weaknesses, boundaries, fragility? How much can I become one with them and become more loving of myself? We are called to mediate Jesus in everything we do and live. Where can we help people, like Jesus, so that God will be able to embrace the people around me? God of love, you speak when we allow ourselves to be weak. Thank you for loving me like I am, my whole, my shadow and sunshine self.
As many of you know by now, I will begin a new parish assignment at St. Mary of the Woods Parish as a pastor. I leave Holy Family with a huge feeling of thankfulness to the Knights of Columbus for modeling for me true discipleship in their brotherhood and service to the Holy Family parish and community at large, to Mimi Ferlita who played such a pivotal roll in the Pastoral Care and Funeral Ministry through her sharing of compassion, love, and support to all who were dealing with loss, grief, and suffering. I am also so grateful to Fr. Terry Keehan, Deacon Dennis Brown, and the pastoral and support staff, and the people of Holy Family community for their vibrant faith and deep love for the Lord. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives for the past three years. It has been a privilege and a blessing to walk this journey with you through so many of life’s ups and downs. It has been my great privilege to accompany you on your spiritual journey, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist and administration of the Sacraments. I will especially miss seeing so many friendly and familiar faces at the 9:00am daily mass. Please know you and your intentions will always be in my prayers. Thank you and may God pour out His love on you, your families and your friends! May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts always! God bless!
St. Mary of the Woods Parish
7033 N. Moselle Ave
Chicago Il. 60646