I don't care if you can name all seven gifts of the Holy Spirit,” I told the classroom of 8th grade students preparing for Confirmation. “I care very much if you can tell me what it would look like to show fortitude in a high school hallway when you see someone getting bullied. What does fortitude, which is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, concretely look like?"
I am a cradle Catholic; baptized and raised in the Church and proud attender of 16 years of Catholic school, if you count the three years of Jesuit law school. In all that time, I was never once asked to “evangelize.” I first heard the word from our former pastor Fr.
What do you value? What is valuable to you? Take a moment and think about that—make a mental list. I imagine that our lists would vary in some ways, and in others be similar. For example, we might compare our valuables and find that one list has a lot of things on it, a lot of tangible “stuff”—the stuff of Life. Another list might include things tangible, like people—loved ones, family, co-workers—and less tangible, like relationships, feelings, belonging. Maybe your list includes the conceptual: freedom, integrity, compassion, purpose, resolve, vulnerability.
WHEN GOD’S MESSENGERS in the Old Covenant and the New wanted to explain the ways of the Lord to people, they looked around for objects and events familiar to them. Among the most familiar were the plants they lived with day by day and year after year. From the everyday experiences of sowing, plowing, watering, reaping, and storing the biblical authors created metaphors to explain the unseen realities of the spiritual realm.
A few years ago, a video went viral about a month before Mother’s Day called “The Unique Connection,” celebrating the special bond between a mother and child. In the video, six mothers stood in a line as one by one their children were led in, blindfolded. The “experiment” was to see whether the child could pick out his or her mother using their senses of touch and smell. The first child we see is a little girl. She leans forward to put her face against one woman’s face, then shakes her head no. The girl continues, feeling the face and hair of another woman, then another.
Back in December, I served as a substitute catechist for one of our religious education classes. For the session, I had prepared a seasonally-appropriate lesson on Advent. About five minutes into the lesson, a brave student raised his hand and asked, “Ms. Espinoza, how do we know that any of this is true?”
Peace be with you. Have you ever taken some time to reflect on what that statement means? When Jesus said these words to his disciples, he wanted to calm their fears. When I say it to another person, I am hoping that their conscious is clear. I hope that any troubles they bear will be relieved. I hope they are living a life of love. That is a lot of meaning in just four words.
We live in a world where words have an impact…
They don’t belong here.
I will never forgive him.
They deserve what’s coming to them.
She is ugly.
Today is Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. We gather to remember the passion of Jesus. We call this week the Holy Week. In Judaism, the cluster of holy days that includes Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is often called the “Days of Awe.” In that span of time Jews observe many of their most sacred festivals, quite similar to Holy Week. These are our days of awe. Nowhere else in the Christian calendar do we recall all the central mysteries of our faith in such a short period of time as we do this week.
In today's Gopsel by John, we have an interesting portrait of Jesus, showcasing his divinity but also his humanity. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were very close friends of Jesus. He visited them, ate with them and talked at length with them. Having heard while he was preaching on the road that Lazarus was extremely sick he proceeded to visit them. He then heard Lazarus died (after Jesus intentionally delayed his return to see Martha and Mary).
Today marks the half-way point of Lent. We are almost there, so it’s time to get a little excited. The Fourth Sunday of Lent was once called Laetare Sunday. The Latin word Laetare is translated to Rejoice! “Rejoice” is the very first word that is said at Mass in the Entrance Antiphon or Introit. You will hear the antiphon this week at the 11:15 a.m. Mass:
Rejoice, O Jerusalem; and gather round, all you who love her; rejoice in gladness, after having been in sorrow; exult and be replenished with the consolation flowing from her motherly bosom. -Isaiah 66:10-1