Isaiah 43:16-21; Ps 126:1-6; Phil 3:8-14; John 8:1-11
If we have seen anything on TV or the papers, God is certainly doing something new in this last month. And it will continue as the Holy Spirit guides the whole Church in this "new springtime," quoting Blessed John Paul II. EWTN and the major news networks have been giving us excellent coverage. No other faith or denomination gets this kind of coverage. I think most everyone was shocked. There are many firsts with Pope Francis. He is the first pope from Argentina and our hemisphere; the first Jesuit and the first to take the name Francis. This was the first time thousands from all over the world picked a cardinal to pray for during the conclave. Look how quickly the results came. On the fifth vote they elected an archbishop who tried to live simply with and for the poor ones.
At his Mass Wednesday with the Cardinals in the Sistine chapel Pope Francis spoke spontaneously to them and us all in Italian. He spoke of journeying with Christ crucified and risen together to bring His Good News to a waiting world. Saturday Pope Francis reminded the news media and us that Christ is the center of our faith and not the pope. Christ is the reason why we exist and we are lead by the Holy Spirit. We want to know the true nature of the Church with its strengths and weaknesses. To know the work of the Church takes study, experience and care. He chose the name of St. Francis of Assisi who was a man anointed with the fire of Christ’s love to bring Christ especially to the poor with joy, service and love. We can sense now a new direction of more concern for the poor of the world and the proper use of the beauty of God’s creation.
The readings this Sunday of Lent, (St. Patrick’s day, yet not celebrated since it is Sunday), move us beyond the things God did in the past to look forward to what the Holy Spirit wants to do in and through us today. St. Paul speaks about being grasped by Christ. We have the seeds and beginnings of our faith but the question is: how are we yielding our lives to what God wants to do in us and through us to help Him change the world to be a better place to live in for all? We begin with own deeper daily conversion and then reach out to help others. Jesus speaks in the gospel today about forgiveness of others. God has already forgiven us in Christ when Jesus died on the cross. As we receive His forgiveness then we must reach out to forgive all who have injured us. Or we may loose the forgiveness of our own sins.
I offer a few thoughts below of that great saint of Ireland, Patrick. I have a great sense that what God did through Patrick and countless others, God wants to do in and through us in our country so we can help Him bring a new earth for our country. I stumbled across the CPAC conference on Saturday afternoon to hear Dr. Ben Carlson’s short 25-minute talk on our "future work" to help save our nation from destruction. It is a great talk. It will bless you to hear or read it. Since I am part Irish, here is a blessing.
May God in His great wisdom and infinite lovelook down on you always from heaven above.May He send you good fortune, contentment and peace.And may all your blessings forever increase, I pray in Jesus Name.
St. Patrick, Bishop and Patron of Ireland, 385-461. Much of his history is shrouded in myth and legend. Much of what we know comes from his
short autobiography, Confession and the Letter. He was born in 385 of a Christian family at Bannavem Taberniae. His father was a magistrate of the town on the Western shores of Britain (Wales, Britain or Scotland). Patrick describes a wayward youth. At 16 he was kidnapped by raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland where for 6 years he was a shepherd. A vision directed him to escape and travel some 200 miles to a ship bound for France. He studied for the priesthood in Wales and Auxere, France, where he was ordained a priest and spent 15 years in ministry. At the age of 40 Patrick was ordained a bishop by St. Germain and sent to evangelize Ireland. Patrick went to local tribal leaders for permission to teach about Jesus Christ and to build churches. He successfully adapted the Gospel to the Irish culture and ordained some 3,000 priests and 370 bishops. With all this help Ireland was mostly converted without anyone being killed. He reformed confession, now called the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Sins were confessed privately to a priest granting Christ’s forgiveness. It also involved some spiritual direction to help the penitent live a better Christian life. That new form of confession eventually spread all over the world and is still used today. It is believed he died peacefully and was buried at Down, now called Down-Patrick. So he is known for more than shamrocks and "green beer.")
Have a productive week. + Fr. Bob Hilz.