The King of Truth: Reflections on the Sunday Gospel (John 18:33b-37) by Father Steven LaBaire –

father steven labaireI am pleased to present this guest post from Father Steven LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA.

In preparation for mass this Sunday:

This weekend’s gospel reading presents us with two men: Pontius Pilate and Jesus.

Sheona Beaumont Station 5, Flickr Creative Commons
Sheona Beaumont Station 5, Flickr Creative Commons

Pilate has heard a lot about Jesus. He’s trying to figure out who Jesus is: Where does he get his power? What’s his appeal?

Jesus doesn’t have the dress or swagger of a king. He’s not accompanied by servants or protected by armies.

He brings no weapons.

And yet, this Jesus, dares to speak about his “kingdom.”

Pilate is confused. If this “Kingdom” belonging to Jesus is somewhere, it doesn’t seem to be much help right now.

Then Jesus says:

“Everyone who cares for the truth,
who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”

Now Pilate is really confused…

But hopefully we are not:

The Kingdom of Jesus exists wherever the truth is told.

Wherever and whenever truth and honesty triumph over lies, deception, falsehood, and cover-ups, Jesus reigns supreme.

Christ is the “King” of every human heart, committed to the truth.

So, who are the truth tellers of our generation? (In our families? In business? In the Church? In our culture?)

darylcheng Follow what is truth?, Flickr Creative Commons
darylcheng what is truth?, Flickr Creative Commons

Are we able to accept the “truth” about ourselves? (Are we honest enough to face-up to both the good and the bad within?)

Do we avoid the truth, when it sheds light on people or things we want to protect?

Are we willing to follow Christ our King, trusting that the “ truth,” sets us free to face both life and death without fear.

Pray that we will always be counted as citizens of this Kingdom.

Amen.

copyright 2015 by Steven Michael LaBaire

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Prayer for persecuted Christians

My thanks to Father Steven Labaire from Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA  for passing along this prayer for our brothers and sisters around the world facing persecution. Please join us in praying for them daily.

mary and jesus facesFather in Heaven, you make your sun shine on the good and bad alike. Your Son Jesus Christ died for us all and in his glorious resurrection he still retains the five wounds of his Passion. With his divine power he now sustains all those facing persecution and martydom for the sake of their fidelity to the faith of the Church. Merciful and mighty Father, do not allow Cain to return again to murder helpless Abel, innocent Abel. May persecuted Christians around the world remain, like Mary, their Mother, together at the foot of Christ the Martyr. Comfort those menaced by violence and those oppressed by uncertainty. May your Holy Spirit of love make fruitful the witness and blood of those who die forgiving.

Amen.

persecuted christian watch list

 

Living with deliberate intent: lessons from a loss and a blessing

donna marie downing anderson mdYesterday reminded me of how suddenly life can end. Rich and I attended the funeral of his cousin Donna who was killed suddenly in a car crash. Gone, just like that. She had just returned to Minnesota from Connecticut, having spent the weekend with her parents. Her mother was brought home from rehab after several weeks away; Donna and her sisters helped to settle their mother back into her routine.

Donna was a doctor, having first served in a pediatric practice for fifteen years, followed by time spent in an army hospital and then in clinics on Indian reservations. She was well aware of all that was going on with her parents and was able to contribute her expertise. She also contributed her special brand of humor and consolation to her mother, father and sisters. Donna was a healer who was very passionate about life. Her spirit was adventurous and free, her life lived with deliberate intent.

It therefore seemed exceedingly unfair that this woman in her prime should suddenly be taken from this life while traveling home from the airport after having called her mother to tell her she was “alright.” Unfair to her mother who is still quite frail. Unfair to her father, devastated at the loss of his little girl, the youngest of the sisters. Unfair to her sisters who depended upon Donna’s gift of life.

Like all of us who attended yesterday’s funeral, I was in need of consolation. Whenever I feel that need, I attend mass at Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA. While I love my own parish of St. Luke the Evangelist in Westboro, there is something special about Holy Family; being there consoles me. It was where I received my healing of my singing voice. St. Luke’s former pastoral associate, Fr. Steven LaBaire, is pastor of this magnificent cathedral:

 

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This morning at mass, I saw something else that reminded me of the need to live with deliberate intent. I remembered clearly the first time I witnessed it; I wept openly because I was so moved. I now want to share it with you:

Father Steve is breaking the bread which Catholics believe is the body of Christ. He then takes a piece and drops it in the chalice containing the wine which is the blood of Christ.

This is what I mean by deliberate intent.

Notice how the ritual and each little motion is done slowly, reverently, with love. By the deliberate intent of his motions, Father Steve allows us time to contemplate the mystery of the bread and wine. The breaking of that bread reminds us of Christ’s broken body on the cross and the mingling of the body with the blood which Catholics then receive as the eucharist during communion.

Christ shares himself with us through such humble means as bread and wine and in the most intimate way possible: by entering our bodies as food. This is what Catholics believe; it is what I believe.

Father Steve demonstrates living with deliberate intent by the way he celebrates this ritual which he has done endless times but never without thought.

Donna lived with deliberate intent, chasing her passions for medicine, helping others and wildlife photography while never forgetting her family. I’m told by my mother-in-law that Donna called her mother three days each day to check in.

Now she is gone but she leaves behind a legacy, not just of her love or her good works or her beautiful pictures. She leaves behind a legacy of living life with deliberate intent.

Father Steve reminded me of that today in his celebration of the mass, the most sacred of rituals.

Do we think about what we are doing? Do we pour every bit of ourselves into the present moment or do we waste time living in the past or anticipating the future?

What is our intention as we life each day?

Obituary for Donna Marie  Downing Anderson, M. D.

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My unexpected miracle healing (part two): openness to God’s way

Did you know that blessings multiply? If you are familiar with the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes then you know that when Jesus blessed the five loaves and two fishes, they multiplied enough to feed five thousand people.

Beginning with St. Blaise

from http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=28
from http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=28

This is how I would characterize my miracle healing. It began with a visit to church on the feast of St. Blaise where I received a blessing on my throat (see previous post for more on St, Blaise).

I entered the line out of habit. The wait was long because the priest chose to do the blessings himself. Fr. Stephen LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester takes his liturgical responsibilities seriously, loving every ritual with fidelity and reverence. Each throat blessed received his utmost attention.

Desire for healing?

As I waited, I wondered why I was there. Did I believe in healing? Did I even want a healing? You may ask why someone might not desire a healing but when you get accustomed to being a certain way, change is hard to imagine. I was used to my voice being gone. I had accepted it.

Still, I remained in line, deciding it couldn’t hurt. I left the door open for possibilities, for anything God wished to give me.

Unfolding of a blessing

After receiving the blessing, I left the church in tears. What could possibly come of this? A few days later, the blessing began to unfold.

It began with an emotional healing.

Loss not private

When I initially lost my voice, I thought I could mourn in private. I could resign from music ministry at my parish and that would be the end of it. I was wrong. My singing was not a private, individual affair. I had shared it with a community and my loss impacted people. There were the other musicians who had to pick up the slack when I resigned. And there were the people who had enjoyed my singing. I should have been grateful for the many kind inquiries and offers of concern but instead I found it to be an intrusion. I didn’t want to accept my loss and thus I pushed music away from me. The inquiries and offers of concern pushed it right back at me. I couldn’t get away from my pain.

Thomas and his loss

It made me think of Thomas. Poor doubting Thomas. He was the one disciple who was not there when Jesus appeared to the apostles after the resurrection. Filled with joy to overflowing, they told Thomas they had seen the Lord and he would not believe. Hidden in a locked room out of fear, Thomas hid from his pain as well. It hurt too much to face it; thus he pushed away any semblance of hope that Jesus had risen. Just as I had pushed away any connection, any reminder of my music: it hurt too much. Healing through the wounds Thomas demanded to touch Jesus’ wounds. It was the only way he would believe.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

A beautiful homily given by a newly ordained priest celebrating his first mass described what Jesus did for Thomas in response to his demands:

“‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Bring your hand and put it into my side. Hide yourself in me. Hide yourself from all that troubles you, from all you doubt, from all you fear. Hide yourself in a love more penetrating than a brush fire, more overwhelming than a deluge. Hide yourself in a love that will remake you entirely. Do not be afraid.’ Jesus invites Thomas to literally enter into his wounds of love, to pass so deeply into the reality of love incarnate as to move within it. To physically put himself into our Lord’s resurrected body, unconquered by everything that would seek to destroy love, to put to death all that smothered God’s life within him. To touch resurrection, to touch eternity. To hide himself in Christ’s love forever. But not to hide Christ’s love from the world. Not to remain behind locked doors. Not to continue in sadness and fear. Jesus fills Thomas with a love so transforming that he can proclaim without fear, without doubt, ‘My Lord and My God.’” Rev. Patrick E. Reidy, C.S.C., Basilica of the Sacred Heart, University of Notre Dame, April 27, 2014

Transformation through healing

Jesus transformed Thomas; he changed him from a man filled with fear, sadness and bitterness to a man who proclaimed his love for Jesus boldly throughout the world. He healed Thomas and Thomas embraced him. He healed me in the same way. Once at war with myself over the loss of my voice, I learned again to love music, to re-embrace my gift and to learn to use it in a new way.

Openness to God’s way

In the next post I will tell you how Jesus healed me. Like the loaves and fishes, it was a blessing that multiplied over and over. Remember when Jesus told the disciples to lower the net for another catch even though they had worked hard all night and caught nothing? The net was filled to overflowing.

That’s what happens when you leave the door open, just a bit, and let God have his way.

Rev. Patrick Reidy C.S.C.
Rev. Patrick Reidy C.S.C.

I highly recommend listening to the entire homily given by Fr. Reidy. You can download the video from iTunes; about 27 minutes in, you can hear his homily.

Click to Tweet & Share: My unexpected miracle healing (part two): openness to God’s way http://wp.me/p2D9hg-DO

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My unexpected miracle healing (part two): openness to God’s way

Did you know that blessings multiply? If you are familiar with the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes then you know that when Jesus blessed the five loaves and two fishes, they multiplied enough to feed five thousand people.

Beginning with St. Blaise

from http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=28
from http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=28

This is how I would characterize my miracle healing. It began with a visit to church on the feast of St. Blaise where I received a blessing on my throat (see previous post for more on St, Blaise).

I entered the line out of habit. The wait was long because the priest chose to do the blessings himself. Fr. Stephen LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester takes his liturgical responsibilities seriously, loving every ritual with fidelity and reverence. Each throat blessed received his utmost attention.

Desire for healing?

As I waited, I wondered why I was there. Did I believe in healing? Did I even want a healing? You may ask why someone might not desire a healing but when you get accustomed to being a certain way, change is hard to imagine. I was used to my voice being gone. I had accepted it.

Still, I remained in line, deciding it couldn’t hurt. I left the door open for possibilities, for anything God wished to give me.

Unfolding of a blessing

After receiving the blessing, I left the church in tears. What could possibly come of this? A few days later, the blessing began to unfold.

It began with an emotional healing.

Loss not private

When I initially lost my voice, I thought I could mourn in private. I could resign from music ministry at my parish and that would be the end of it. I was wrong. My singing was not a private, individual affair. I had shared it with a community and my loss impacted people. There were the other musicians who had to pick up the slack when I resigned. And there were the people who had enjoyed my singing. I should have been grateful for the many kind inquiries and offers of concern but instead I found it to be an intrusion. I didn’t want to accept my loss and thus I pushed music away from me. The inquiries and offers of concern pushed it right back at me. I couldn’t get away from my pain.

Thomas and his loss

It made me think of Thomas. Poor doubting Thomas. He was the one disciple who was not there when Jesus appeared to the apostles after the resurrection. Filled with joy to overflowing, they told Thomas they had seen the Lord and he would not believe. Hidden in a locked room out of fear, Thomas hid from his pain as well. It hurt too much to face it; thus he pushed away any semblance of hope that Jesus had risen. Just as I had pushed away any connection, any reminder of my music: it hurt too much. Healing through the wounds Thomas demanded to touch Jesus’ wounds. It was the only way he would believe.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio

A beautiful homily given by a newly ordained priest celebrating his first mass described what Jesus did for Thomas in response to his demands:

“‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Bring your hand and put it into my side. Hide yourself in me. Hide yourself from all that troubles you, from all you doubt, from all you fear. Hide yourself in a love more penetrating than a brush fire, more overwhelming than a deluge. Hide yourself in a love that will remake you entirely. Do not be afraid.’ Jesus invites Thomas to literally enter into his wounds of love, to pass so deeply into the reality of love incarnate as to move within it. To physically put himself into our Lord’s resurrected body, unconquered by everything that would seek to destroy love, to put to death all that smothered God’s life within him. To touch resurrection, to touch eternity. To hide himself in Christ’s love forever. But not to hide Christ’s love from the world. Not to remain behind locked doors. Not to continue in sadness and fear. Jesus fills Thomas with a love so transforming that he can proclaim without fear, without doubt, ‘My Lord and My God.’” Rev. Patrick E. Reidy, C.S.C., Basilica of the Sacred Heart, University of Notre Dame, April 27, 2014

Transformation through healing

Jesus transformed Thomas; he changed him from a man filled with fear, sadness and bitterness to a man who proclaimed his love for Jesus boldly throughout the world. He healed Thomas and Thomas embraced him. He healed me in the same way. Once at war with myself over the loss of my voice, I learned again to love music, to re-embrace my gift and to learn to use it in a new way.

Openness to God’s way

In the next post I will tell you how Jesus healed me. Like the loaves and fishes, it was a blessing that multiplied over and over. Remember when Jesus told the disciples to lower the net for another catch even though they had worked hard all night and caught nothing? The net was filled to overflowing.

That’s what happens when you leave the door open, just a bit, and let God have his way.

Rev. Patrick Reidy C.S.C.
Rev. Patrick Reidy C.S.C.

I highly recommend listening to the entire homily given by Fr. Reidy. You can download the video from iTunes; about 27 minutes in, you can hear his homily.

Click to Tweet & Share: My unexpected miracle healing (part two): openness to God’s way http://wp.me/p2D9hg-DO

Join Susan’s Email List (special surprises just for you!)
Follow this blog by email and never miss a post!

At the top of the right hand column  just click on “Follow” under Follow this Blog via Email. You will receive an email every time Susan writes a new post.
Follow Susan on Facebook and Twitter
Listen to Susan’s music Read Susan’s blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion