“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us rid ourselves of every burden and thing that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1,2).
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
There is an advertisement which we hear or see often and the celebrity or other spokesperson questions, “What’s in your wallet?” This is the crux of the secular world; that all we are is measured by what is in our wallet. What is the richness we have; how many things do we have; how big is our house; how expensive is our house, etc.
Jesus speaks to us from a different perspective, “What’s in your heart?” He talks about the measurement of our soul, our ability to focus on God. The largeness of our house is the openness of all our hearts, all our understanding, and all our strength to live as a dwelling place of God. The wealth we accumulate is not the amount of money; rather, it is the number of encounters with people in which we bring forth God’s holy love.
St. Paul speaks to the Hebrews about this, exhorting them and us to rid ourselves of every burden and thing that clings to us so that our entire focus is God. The temptations of the world will not deliver the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth. Our hope is to follow Jesus and to bring His compassion, His divine love to the people we meet.
You might say, “Bishop, I do that. I love my family. I have good neighbors and we get along well.” But Jesus and His prophets and disciples are saying that our delivery of God’s Kingdom goes beyond our inner circle. It means that when we listen to or watch the news, that we drop our judgement of the people about whom the news speaks, whether a politician or a representative of an organization, or someone accused of committing a crime. Instead, we are called to leave the judgement to God and pray for these people that they may receive God’s blessing and conversion. We are called to look into our own heart and rid ourselves of any disability to love God so that as people encounter us, they can experience God by our words, thoughts, and actions.
The Gospel is about joy. Jesus’ living is to bring joy to the people; not criticism or deprivation. His ministry points to this joy and loves us by His death on the Cross, to bring us life everlasting. How glorious is this gift for our sake! Our Blessed Mother also proclaims this joy as she carried Jesus in her womb and lives as our Advocate and Intercessor. In her humility she shows us how to love fully and, like her Son, our perfect model of life-giving joy. Pope Francis said, “Let us relive the moments in which we have experienced His presence and Mary’s intercession. May she help us treasure the signs of God’s presence in our lives.”
By living God’s love, we will find disruption, for letting go of earthly matters will be counter-cultural and may not allow favor with our friends or family. When someone is disparaging another, it may be difficult to offer a prayer or even speak out loud, “Let us pray for him/her that he/she finds God’s Peace.” Forgiveness must be the utterance of our tongue and the core of our being, no matter the situation.
Remember Jesus asks if any of us are sinless, and no one is able to come forward to condemn. What are we doing about this? Are we participating in the celebration of Mass to receive the Eucharist that we might be fortified to live purely? Do we take time for prayer each day? Do we speak about God with each other, and not assume that there is knowledge? Do we know what we believe? Do we seek the Sacrament of Penance so that we might be renewed in God’s holy grace?
On August 10, our children returned to school. Let us pray for them, their families, faculty and staff, and guide them to know God. God gives us blessing after blessing to be His prophets, His disciples, to teach and bring others to know God. Let us take what God gives to us and multiply His blessing, fixing our eyes on Jesus. What’s in your heart?