Bishop Noonan reflects on the “now” of God

“For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

Luke 6:38

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

In the Gospel of St. Luke proclaimed on the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus explains what His true love is; what He means when He says, “love one another as I have loved you.” But, His words are not easy to hear; certainly, they were life changing for those who first heard them. They are life changing for us, and their simplicity is perhaps, complex, because of our own human weaknesses.

Pope Francis said that Jesus reveals the now of God, Who comes to meet us and calls us to take part in His now—to offer “a merciful love that does not wait for ideal or perfect situations to show itself, nor does it accept excuses for its appearance. It is God’s time, that makes every situation and place both right and proper.”

When do we do this?  From the moment of our Baptism until our death, we take part in His now if we are willing. Many of us have excuses—some of which might include a disagreement with a family member that becomes an obstacle or selfishness or prioritizing things and not people. You know them in your heart. We have the best of intentions and things take us away from God.

Jesus knew that He would not always be on this earth in the physical sense.  He showed us what true love is and then He left us Himself in the Eucharist—the bread of heaven. Father Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932-1996), one of the most widely read Catholic authors of his day, believed that the Eucharistic ritual revealed the mysterious nature of God’s love for humanity: “It is the story of God who wants to come close to us, so close that we can see Him with our own eyes, touch Him with our own hands; so close that there is nothing between us and Him, nothing that separates, nothing that divides, nothing that creates distance.”

As Catholics, we uniquely have this gift of the Eucharist—the gift of Real Presence—offered to us every day if we are willing to participate in the celebration of Mass. From that heavenly table, we enter God’s earth and create its celestial being as best as we are able. The lives of the saints are examples of their own participation in this creation, despite their weaknesses. There are many people given to us who also help—our parents, siblings, friends, teachers, spouses. Sometimes it is the stranger who becomes an inspiration for us to turn back to God. We must not tarry in this pursuit, the now of God is needed quite frankly, NOW! A close and everyday God demands that we be concerned with our surroundings, everyday affairs, and fraternity. Fed by the Eucharist, we have a heart to accompany, to feel tenderness and devotion, to show mercy and treat others with respect, sensitivity and understanding. We have a heart to embrace one another.

Where is your heart? Is it struggling with anger and disappointment? Perhaps some of that is directed at me for something you perceive I did or did not do. I am sorry for your disappointment. This week, February 21 – 24, our Holy Father has gathered the presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of ‘protection of minors.’ Let us pray together for those who are participating that God’s love will be a source of unification and that our collective heart will repent and forgive our sinfulness. I personally pray that no matter the conversation or results of the conversation, that each one of us will be filled with joy that such an extraordinary gathering is possible and that we pray with gratitude for the willingness of such a serious topic to be considered; that we celebrate change in God’s people.

In his World Youth Day opening speech, Pope Francis said, “To go forward, not to create a parallel Church that would be more ‘fun’ or ‘cool’ thanks to a fancy youth event, as if that were all you needed or wanted. That way of thinking would not respect either you or everything that the Spirit is saying through you. Not at all!  We encourage each other to keep walking and to bear witness by proclaiming the Lord through service to our brothers and sisters.”

May we, through our living faith, reveal the now of God.

Bishop Noonan
Diocese of Orlando
February 2019