This week is filled with opportunities to celebrate, give thanks and praise God for God’s goodness, while at the same time our week ends recalling, remembering and honoring those who gave their lives today 20 years ago. I will do my best to guide us through the second half of this week as we pause to reflect and give God praise and thanks.
We begin with a faithful and loving God again stepping into our existence to bring forth a transformation and restoration through the fullfilment of a promise. For centuries the prophets for told Him. In prepartion for the Messiah God chooses to bless two antient persons of faith. Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary the Mother of the of the Son of God, Jesus our Lord and Savior. Her birth becomes the doorway to hope, she will become the vessel for the new Ark of the Covenant, She the Theotokos, the God bearer. We honor her this week and thankful to God for the gift of her life brouht forth to us through her parents Joachim and Anne. This is God’s plan to use Mary to bring about His desire to bring salvation and the forgiveness of sins to all of creation, all of humanity is given the opportunity. Because of God’s blessing of Joachim and Anne to be the parents of Mary.
What does this do for us? Mary becomes the way by which all of Creation is renewed and transformed through her Son. Through Mary a new relationship is established between God and humanity. God unites Himself to us through her as the instrument for the living Son of God to save the world. Now all of creation, all that is moves in the direction and culminates in Christ Jesus our Lord. Mary’s birth is vital to God Salvific plan. This is our Cause for rejoicing.
Saint Arnold Janssen from Germany came to Style Holland and founded his mission house there. It was his vision that priests be formed to preach the gospel in those places that the Gospel had never been breached or insufficiently so. If with initially small band of men, like Mary, he trusts in God and not knowing the outcome steps out in faith and transforms the world through the largest missionary congregation in the Catholic Church. We Divine Word Missionaries serve in 84 countries around the world. We are often asked to go to the furtherest ends where the challenges are the greatest, simply entrusting ourselves to our Blessed Mother and empowered by the Divine Word made flesh in her.
What makes the SVD unique from many missionary institutes is that mission areas or regions are not the sole responsibility of individual provinces, but of the whole Society. The SVD generalate may appoint members from any country to any other country with priority given to those places which are most in need. This new form of mission is no longer depended upon a particular provice supporting a mission with missionaries and resources, but rather the entire international missionary congregation can be called upon to establish, support and enliven the missionary spirit around the word. This is what enables us to grow and reach all corners of the globe. Our Motto “The Word is our Parish.”
What an example we have in these three lives that we have briefly shared. Two simple parents bringing new life into the world, to give us the very author of life, namely Joachim and Anne. There witness and that of Mary’s is a complete and ultimate trust and reliance on God’s loving mercy and action in our lives. When we are open to allowing God to use us we see see that the very challenging world we live in can be shaped and transformed by one solitary life simply willing to say yes, I want to make a difference.
Today we are reminded that we still need women and men to stand up for goodness, peace, justice and the dignity of the human person. Those reading this article can remember where they were 20 years ago today. Although this most tragic attact of September 11, 2001 changed our nation drastically, it also, although briefly brought us together as Americans seeing in each other brothers and sisters. As we recall, honor, remember those who lost their lives, we can see in this day an opportunity for a renewed spirit of unity, common values and recognizing the dignity that all humans , citizens of this nation and all who seek the common good ought to experience. Heros worked hard to save lives and to rebuild after this tragic day. Let us never foget their sacrifice, nor the great loss of so many. Let us use this time as a moment to renew our commitment to do good, support and see in all that we encounter persons possessing great dignity and respect. Like them we must have the courage to stand against hatred and division and deception. Like them we must be brave enough to come out of ourselves and to help others.
What does this look like today? Taking a vaccine, or wearing a mask because not only is it good for you but helpful to others. What a difference we make if we actually were willing like the brave persons today, was willing to risk our being comfortable for the good and well being of others.
The Gospel today raises the question to Jesus closes disciples, who do you say that I am? Although Peter gets it right at first he fails to truly understand. How do you and I respond to this question of Jesus? What are the ramifications of seeing and acknowledging Him as the Messiah, the Christ? If we are able to accept Jesus for who is truly is, we are impelled to change our lives. We must like him come out of ourselves and seek the good, wellbeing and simply to good of the other. We must be women and men of peace, of healing, of inclusion and ultimately willing to stand with Jesus for greater equality and dignity of all human beings. Actually all of creation demands a respect for we are all woven together into a tapastry of life. We are linked to one anothers and share a common fraternity, united to a common destiny with all of creation. Let us see in this weekend an opportunity make our remembering, our tributes, our celebration of faith and our faithfilled past, must link us to actually caring for others and just ourselves. We reach past our personal preferences and see that the good of the other must take precident in our lives and those that we encounter.
Let us be willing to keep moving out of ourselves. So many are on the peripheries in our own communty and society. So many have no sense of belonging nor connection. Our reaching them, standing with them, serving them, building them up is how we must live the embracing of the cross. Our cross and helping them in their struggle each day. Can we pause in the midst of our own issues and concerns and think for a moment about the other. As I drive through our city I see so many opportunities to serve, the recognize the dignity of persons, small ways as well as significant systemic changes that we can bring about when we choose to leave our own comfort and opinions and see that others are in need of our help to stand with them, to lead them, speakup for them, guide them and ultimately simple be there for them. What a different community this can be when we are willing to be there for others.