Journey * Trek * Trip * Voyage * Excursion * Walk
This Sunday’s first reading (Numbers 21:4b-9) begins “With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained …” Nelson Mandela’s autobiography is “Long Walk to Freedom”. Whatever name we give it, the process of a person or a people moving to freedom is indeed long and our patience can grow thin. It always includes a testing or 2 or 3 or 4…….
The second reading is from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 2:6-11. Paul describes how Jesus became obedient, even to death on the cross. It is hard to be obedient when one is worn out.
The gospel from John 3:3-17 says that God, out of love for the world, became human, so that we might believe and thus have eternal life. We must trade our puny and limited but precious life for an eternal life we cannot comprehend.
We have all heard this journey of life and faith stuff before. We have heard about being obedient and picking up our cross. We have heard that death leads to eternal life. Yet, I, for one, find myself at moments when my feet are blistered, my aging knees are aching, trail food tastes like sugared cardboard and my companions are annoying me. I feel burdened already with crosses. Patience has worn thin. Or, I look about me and see others who are struggling with illness, financial woes, crushing loneliness, teens who feel they do not belong anywhere and young adults tired of waiting for doors to open.
Questions arise. If we desire a faith that joyfully embodies eternal life, a faith that carries us through times of pain and testing must we always be obedient? Must we always pick up the cross? Well…..yes. But maybe not as we imagine.
Archbishop Hunthausen spoke that obedience comes from the Latin word “obidare” which means “to hear all that is being said.” It is not blindly following but carefully listening and responding to the whole message. We are called to hear the voice of God wherever and whenever it is spoken. There are many many voices. As Bishop Eusebio said last Sunday, each of us is a prophet.
What about picking up our cross? Erik Law, Episcopal priest and writer, describes a model of the constant “journey” of cross and resurrection. Imagine you are standing at one end of an ellipse. At one end is the the Holy Cross and at the other end the Empty Tomb. The cross is a time or place of suffering, it is a place of death. It could be death of a dream, a relationship, a way of life, a future etc. we have all been there. The Empty Tomb is the place where life is eternal and all is possible. It is hope, success, birth, new relationships, life is eternal and we have amazing strength. We have been there too. When we are on the cross it is a time to come off the cross (or be taken off), to be comforted, and protected and invited to rest. We do not need to pick up our cross as we are already there. When we are at the empty tomb (i.e. the Resurrection) it is time to pick up our cross. We have the means and disposition to carry our cross for the good of all.
As individuals, as a parish, a nation or community our lives have both Empty Tombs and the Holy Cross. This is life: journey, trek, voyage, trip, excursion, walk……. The one constant is faith that God is always with us because as we say in the St Mary’s prayer:
We believe in God who creates the universe and gives us life.
We believe in a God of love and therefore we believe In the power of love.
We believe in Jesus Christ who showed by his life, death, and resurrection God’s love for us and for each individual person.
We believe in Jesus who listened to the poor, who, during his Journey, walked and talked with the powerless so that they might have life and live it to the fullest.
We believe that each human being is called to greatness in Christ.
We believe that we are called to build up this kingdom of Christ- this kingdom of equality and love, of justice and mercy.
We believe that together, as Christ’s body, we can form community.
We believe in the Spirit, the Spirit who re-creates us every day.
We believe in the Spirit who binds us together with all who are suffering and with all who are yearning to hear the liberating message of Christ.
We believe in the Spirit who frees us from racism, from sexism, from the powerful whose actions speak against the kingdom.
We believe in the Spirit who indeed binds all of us together as brothers and sisters. God gives life, God renews life, God is life.
We celebrate and proclaim the life within us, We commit ourselves to share this life with others. Amen.
St Mary’s news
Bishop Eusebio will return to work on Monday, September 15. All the weekend Masses at St Mary’s will be covered by a visiting priest.
Sunday school meeting for all parents after 9:30 Mass this Sunday sept 14 in Fr Tony Parish Center. Please be prepared to register your child, including $15.00 registration fee (for materials) for each of first 2 children and $10.00 for all subsequent children.
Compassion and justice committee will meet after 9:30 mass in day chapel. Further discussion of the migrant children at the border and other topics will be discussed.
Finance council with Bishop Eusebio 5:30pm Monday Sept. 15.
Liturgy committee meeting with Bishop Eusebio 5:30pm Wednesday Sept. 17.
Confirmation registration for adults and teens is still open ( gatherings begin Monday Sept. 29 6:30-8:30pm). Please contact Nick Reynolds or Tricia Wittmann-Todd. Forms are available in the back of the church.