Just imagine that you’re going up north on vacation, and on the way you see a blind beggar on the side of the road. You stop to help the man, and he tells you something about yourself that not even your family members can see. This describes the Gospel passage for Oct. 25.
Nearly six years ago, a young man from California shocked the sports world. At 23 years old, his story made headlines in newspapers all across America. After playing just three years in the minor leagues, this young man, one of the Oakland Athletics’ top prospects on the verge of being called up to the major leagues, retired from professional baseball to study for the priesthood with the Norbertine Order of in Silverado, California.
If you have any exposure at all to social or news media, you cannot escape the relentless public discourse about sin — even if the “s” word isn’t used. Behaviors that used to be whispered about in private, especially if committed by public figures, are now analyzed, condemned, applauded and endlessly commented upon for all to see. Following scandals through the news cycle has become a popular pastime.
I’ve known Mack since he was 11 years old — that’s 44 years. He grew up in a faithful, practicing Catholic family, much younger than his four older brothers and sisters. He was a young teenager when things started unraveling at home, largely due to alcoholism in the family.
We all desire to be free and to truly live our lives as we are meant to live them. We can try to achieve this in different ways. We can see that the Scots tried to achieve political freedom through fighting a war against the English. Moses tells Israel to observe the Lord’s statutes and decrees “that [they] may live and may enter in and take possession of the land” that God gives them. But more than land and space to live, the first reading for Aug. 30 shows us that God and his law bring true freedom.
In the readings this weekend, we arrive at a very pivotal moment in the great bread of life discourse. Until now, Jesus has only required belief in him as the one sent by the father, a belief difficult enough in itself. He has done many things to merit our belief, like feeding the 5,000 and walking on water. But in the Scripture for Aug. 16, he challenges us to put our belief into action in a very unpalatable way: to eat his body and drink his blood.
Living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it’s easy to place our confidence in a well-stocked pantry, or ultimately, a healthy bank account. It is easy to place our confidence in the things we have, rather than in God, who has given them to us.
The Sea of Galilee is below sea level, within a bowl of hills, and very subject to unpredictable storms. After a hard day’s preaching, Jesus, who governs the universe, is stretched out, asleep in a boat during a violent storm. The apostles’ maritime skills were not enough to endure the waves, so as a last resort, they turn to Jesus to calm the sea.
“Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory, of His Flesh, the mystery sing; of the Blood, all price exceeding, shed by our Immortal King, destined, for the world’s redemption, from a noble Womb to spring” (Hymn Pange Lingua, St. Thomas Aquinas).