Sunday, July 14, 2019

God's Creation: Visible and Invisible

Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jan Wijnants (1670)
 
(Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time-Year C; This homily was given on July 14, 2019 at St. Paul's Church in Cranston, R.I.; See Colossians 1:15-20 and Luke 10: 25-37)
 
Every Sunday we profess our faith in “one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”  We believe God made everything that is—the entire universe we live in—out of nothing.  He made “all things, visible and invisible.”
 
God created the entire visible world: he made the sea and the land, the mountains and the plains; God made the creatures dwelling across the face of the earth and in the depths of the ocean.  As the pinnacle of His creation He made you and I, man and woman, in His own image and likeness.  All of this creation can be seen and observed, appreciated and accepted with a sense of awe and wonder.

But God also created all things invisible.  What does that mean?  Each of us has a spiritual soul.  You cannot see it, yet it exists.  We are made of body and soul, and our spiritual soul is invisible. God made the angels. We cannot see them either, but they are constantly around us.  Each of us, we are taught, has at least one guardian angel (see Matthew 18:10).  If you were to count the heads in the Church this morning you would have to multiply by at least two, because that is how many beings—human and angelic—are present here right now. 

God created all of these, visible and invisible.  St. Paul, in the Letter to the Colossians this morning, explains it this way:

Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible.
—Colossians 1:15-16

 
Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God.  God is purely spiritual, and He cannot be seen.  He is the infinite and invisible God.  But suddenly He became visible when Christ was born in Bethlehem.  The God, “who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16) became visible to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, and then to some shepherds, and finally, to an entire host of angels.  He later became manifest in Galilee and healed the sick, and forgave broken people that the world had forgotten.  Thousands of people saw Him.  They watched Him suffer and witnessed His body fastened to the wood of the cross for the forgiveness of sins.  They saw the God of love pouring Himself out in agony, and they watched His body laid to rest in the tomb.  They saw Him after He had risen from the dead, and watched Him ascend into heaven.

St. Paul calls Him “the firstborn of all creation” and “the firstborn from the dead,” because He is the first one to rise from the dead, the first of many!  It is in Christ, says St. Paul, that all things were created, visible and invisible.

St. Thomas Aquinas, often referred to as the “Angelic Doctor” for his teachings on the angels,    along with many of the great teachers of the Catholic faith, speaks about what could be called a hierarchy of being.  While it is true that all men and women are created equal, not all beings are equal!  For instance, God is greater than all beings, whether visible or invisible. God has always existed, from all eternity.  There never was a time that God did not exist.  While everything and everyone came to be at some specific time, God simply is.  Before all things came to be, God is.

Angels are like God in that they are spiritual and invisible, but there was a time that they did not exist.  God created them, and they came into being.  They are greater than us, because they are purely spiritual, and are not limited physically like we are.

Next, of course, is humanity.  We are like the angels in our spiritual souls, but we also possess a  body.  In our corporality we are limited.  An angel can move from here to California in a moment. If you and I want to do that, we have to take a airplane or a really long road trip!  Jesus says that angels can always behold the face of His heavenly Father; we are not granted that amazing privilege here below.

The remarkable truth about our redemption in Christ, however, is that when God chose to save us and to open the gates to eternal life, He did not become an angel.  God did not descend one level down the hierarchy of being (that itself would have been a tremendous act of divine humility).  No, when God came to save us He descended two levels to become a man.  As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews expressed it, “But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering and death, so that by the grace of God he may taste death for every one” (Hebrews 2:9).

The breathtaking reality of our redemption is that Christ united Himself to our humanity, and then ascended into heaven, taking humanity with Him!  In the resurrection, we ascend with Christ and are united with God even above the angels.  This is the meaning of St. Paul’s bold assertion in 1 Corinthians 6:3: “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?”  What an amazing exchange, and it all takes place through the body of Jesus Christ!  The early Church Father, Tertullian, explains, “Caro salutis est cardo.”  The flesh, or body, is the hinge of salvation.  God has thrown open the gates to heaven, and He has used the body of Jesus Christ to do it!
 
Back down to earth, this amazing truth about our redemption reminds us that everybody, and literally every body, has the same value and dignity of God.  Every terminally ill patient being cared for by hospice has infinite value; every unborn child has the same dignity and value as Jesus Christ; every young person, every elderly person, every man and every woman, is as valuable as God’s own Son.  The tragedy in our Gospel this weekend is that the priest and the Levite have failed to recognize that; or having recognized it, they failed to act on it. 

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan the priest and the Levite come upon this unfortunate victim of robbers, a person left half-dead on the side of the road.  Not wanting to get involved and not willing to help him in his dire need, they both “passed by on the opposite side.”  How different, the response of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus says that he “was moved by compassion” when he saw that unfortunate man, and at length he helped him in practical and caring ways.
 
St. John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, says that the Parable of the Good Samaritan belongs to the Gospel of Mercy.  What an odd thing to say!  The word “Gospel” means “good news.”  How can there be “good news” in suffering?  The good news, of course, is that God has redeemed us, and He did it through the generosity of the cross.  His willingness to suffer and die for us reveals God’s great mercy towards suffering and sinful humanity.  The Parable of the Good Samaritan, by comparison, does the same.
 
There are two things that the Good Samaritan teaches us, says St. John Paul II, two essential responses that we must embrace when it comes to the suffering of others.  The first is that the Samaritan was moved to compassion.  The suffering that we witness everyday should move us, should motivate us; it should leave a deep impression on us because every body, every individual person, matters.  Secondly, not only compassion but also availability must be our response to those who are suffering (See Salvifici Doloris, #28).  The Good Samaritan made himself available to this man who had fallen victim to robbers.  He approached the man, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them; he brought that broken man to an inn, and paid for his convalescence (see Luke 10:34-35).

Salvifici Doloris offers a thorough theological explanation of suffering and highlights the central point that the cross is a mystery in our lives, not something that can be easily answered.  We do not know all of the reasons why we suffer.  One meaning that is essential for us as Christians, however, and something that communicates beautifully this compassion and availability that should motivate us to action, is the universal call to love.  St. John Paul says that suffering “is also present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one's "I" on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer (Salvifici Doloris, #29).  Those who perhaps would not ordinarily be willing to love are drawn to that generous gift of self in the face of suffering.
 
In my own family we see this mysterious reality at work on a regular basis.  My nephew suffers from a rare illness that caused him to go blind when he was still a small child.  He has difficulty walking, speaking and doing most things that children his age accomplish quite easily. Caring for him is challenging for my sister and her family.  But when they take him out to any of a number of local restaurants or shopping centers, it is often as if Taylor Swift just walked into the room!  People that have seen him before, those who have laughed and joked with him, cannot wait to come over and say hello.  They want to place their hand on his shoulder, and talk to him, listening to what he has to say.  These are often young people who ordinarily spend long hours staring into their smartphones, but suddenly they are drawn out of themselves in order to love and care for another person who is suffering.   Suffering is “present in order to unleash love in the human person.”  
 
Where is Christ calling us this week to show compassion for those who are suffering around us, and challenging us to be available as he draws us more deeply into love?  He has given each of us a soul that is invisible, and surrounded us with angels that we cannot see.  But we all have people in our lives right now that are suffering.  We can see them, and should see them, clear as day.  It could be a physical illness or setback; it might be a personal crisis or a financial one.  People that we know and love may be suffering from a mental illness, something that sadly remains somewhat of a stigma in our culture, only adding to the weight of that person’s cross.  Whatever it may be, God calls each of us to love in the midst of suffering, to be Good Samaritans is a world where the Gospel of Suffering continues to open hearts to the mystery of God’s healing grace. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Via Dolorosa, Road to Glory


Women Following Jesus on Via Dolorosa, Pietro Lorenzetti-1320


(Fifth Sunday of Easter-Year C; This homily was given on May 19, 2019 in Rome; See Acts 14:21-27, Revelation 21:1-5 and John 13: 31-35)


There is a powerful scene in the movie, The Passion of the Christ, when Jesus is carrying the cross on the way to Calvary.  The Blessed Virgin Mary is following Him closely, attending Him with great love and unfathomable sorrow.  Suddenly He falls beneath the weight of the cross.  The sight of her son falling to the ground brings Mary’s memory back to a similar incident when Jesus was a child.  The scene changes in the film to a much more peaceful moment—perhaps in Nazareth—but Mary experiences that same anxious concern as she sees her child fall to the ground with some force.  She runs to the little boy, who is somewhat shaken but otherwise perfectly well, and she embraces him with tenderness and relief.  

In the film, the scene then changes back to Jesus, struggling to get back up on the Via Dolorosa.  Mary has run over to Him, helpless to stop the agony of that present moment.  Jesus, as if sharing the same earlier memory with her, turns to her and affectionately says, “See, I make all things new.”

It is a strange scene in several ways, because that Scripture passage being referred to, this “making all things new,” is not technically from Jesus’ passion but is aligned more closely to the Resurrection.  It is found in the Book of Revelation, and we listened to it this morning on the Fifth Sunday of Easter.  Speaking about the new heavens and the new earth, the risen Jesus, seated on His glorious throne, says that God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.  In the triumph of the resurrection He announces, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).

Nonetheless, the scene from The Passion of the Christ is very fitting because it is only through the suffering of the cross that we are given the hope of a new heaven  and a new earth.  It is only through the Via Dolorosa that we find the road to glory.  The suffering of Christ has indeed made all things new.

This same paradoxical coupling of suffering and glory is found in the Gospel this weekend.  Jesus has gathered together with His disciples for the Last Supper, on the night before He will offer His life in sacrifice on the cross.  We hear that Judas Iscariot has just left to betray Him, and we know that the darkest moment of Jesus’s life has arrived.  Remarkably, Jesus says to them:

Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
—John 13:31

Now?  Really?  It would make sense to say “After this entire ordeal is over, then will the Son of Man be glorified,” or perhaps even “In spite of all this betrayal and suffering, God is still glorified.”  But Jesus says neither of those things.  “Now,” He says.  Now.  

St. John’s Gospel makes it very clear, many times, that the glory of God is revealed at the cross.  It is not the case, of course, that God is glorified in suffering.  Suffering is not glorious or valuable in any way, in and of itself.  The truth is that God is glorified in His generous outpouring of love in the midst of suffering.  In the cross of Jesus Christ the tremendous love of God is revealed.  The sacrifice of love on the altar of the cross is what makes all things new.

St. Paul and St. Barnabas, in the Acts of the Apostles this weekend, communicate this same difficult yet liberating reality.  We hear that they had preached the Gospel in a certain city, and “made a considerable number of disciples,” but chose to return to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch instead of remaining in that place.  Acts gives us two specific reasons for their decision: to strengthen the spirits of the disciples, and to exhort them to persevere in the faith.

They “strengthened the faith of the disciples” (Acts 14:22), of course because it had been weakened. It was flagging.  They were struggling, and Paul and Barnabas wanted to make sure their faith would endure.

Secondly, they “exhorted them to persevere in the faith” (Acts 14:22).  Apparently, they had become discouraged or were perhaps in danger of giving up.   Making sure that they did not mistake the trials they were facing with the notion that something had gone wrong or that God had forgotten them, Paul and Barnabas encourage them to persevere and help them to see the connection between suffering and eternal life, between the Via Dolorosa and the road to glory:

“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
—Acts 14:22

Are we sometimes tempted to see the trials and the crosses of our lives as a sign that something has gone wrong or that God is absent?  Do we become discouraged and weakened in our faith when we see the challenges before us or go through difficult moments?

In conclusion, there is an amazing species of trees found predominantly in the Western area of the United States and Canada called the Lodgepole Pine.  It is very much like other pines trees with one significant difference: its cones.  Year after year, the pine cones drop from those trees but they are unable to open under normal, natural circumstances.  They simply fall to the ground and eventually become covered over and forgotten.  The only thing that can open them is intense heat.  But when a wildfire devastates the forest in which they are located, destroying everything in its path, the cones of the Lodgepole Pine will open, and release the seeds that will become new trees able to provide the shade in which everything else can begin to grow again.


The trials of life are not easy to endure, and the way of the cross is hard.  This weekend we are reminded, though, that we are never alone in our suffering.  God is present and guiding us through all the trials of life.  “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22), but the Via Dolorosa will guide us surely on the road to the glory of God, to the place where God will make “all things new” (Revelation 21:5).

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Virtues of Family Life


The Holy Family, by Michelangelo

(Feast of the Holy Family-Year C; This homily was given on December 30, 2018 at St. Paul Church in Cranston, R.I.; See Luke 2: 41-52)


The opening prayer that we say at the beginning of each Mass, in liturgical terms, is called the “collect.”  It’s purpose is to “collect” or gather the congregation together around a central mystery or celebration.  For Christmas, the “collect” focused on the mystery of the Incarnation, God made flesh, and the celebration of the Child born in Bethlehem.  For our Mass this weekend and the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family, our collect includes not only Jesus, but the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, as well.  In fact, it even broadens to include each of us and our families!  At the beginning of this Mass we prayed:

O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life . . . 

The virtues of family life.  A great question we could ask, though, is “Which virtues?”  There are numerous virtues that we see at work in the lives of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the Sacred Scriptures.  

Certainly the virtue of courage is one obvious example.  What could have taken more courage than for a young girl to say, “Fiat! Yes!” and give birth to the Eternal Son of God?  In the same way, St. Joseph shows tremendous courage when he consents to take Mary and her child, Jesus, into his care.  Specifically, he is told by the angel of God in a dream that King Herod is seeking to destroy the child, and that he will have to flee to a foreign land with Mary and Jesus to avoid this peril.  

Likewise, the virtue of chastity is one we find beautifully embraced and wonderfully exercised in the life of the Holy Family.  Holy Mary remained a virgin, our faith teaches, before, during and after the birth of Christ (in ancient iconography, there are always three stars displayed above the Virgin Mary to express this great mystery).  Mary and Joseph lived together and loved each other deeply, but were never physically together as husband and wife; they lived in chastity and in a state of celibate love.  They teach us much today by their virtue and love for each other and for God.

The Holy Family would have also possessed what Aristotle called the “charioteer” of the virtues, prudence.  In their choices and their actions they were prudent, choosing the good in exactly the right measure and magnificently showing those around them the power of human freedom and the wonders of a virtuous life.

One could fill volumes describing the virtues lived out so gloriously in the life of the Holy Family.  But there are three specific virtues that they would have possessed in abundance, virtues that are central to our own families and to our own Christian lives.  These virtues are called the Theological Virtues, for they unite us most closely to the life of God Himself.  The Theological Virtues are faith, hope and love.  

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Theological Virtues form us “for participation in the divine nature...They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity” (CCC, #1812).

In other words, when we choose to believe in what God has revealed, when we choose to place our trust in the God who governs all things and to hope in Him, when we love in all the places where it may be difficult or daunting, when we practice these virtues, we participate more completely in the life of the Holy Trinity.  We begin to live more closely united to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  When we choose to act in faith, trust to hope, and will to love, we become more and more open to the power of God working in and through us.

In the Gospel passage for this weekend, the mysterious finding of the Child Jesus teaching in the Temple, we can see these Theological Virtues practiced and developed in the life of the Holy Family. 

The Catechism teaches us that FAITH is to believe in God and what He has revealed (CCC, #1814).  More than that, St. James teaches us in the New Testament that faith is not really faith, but remains just an empty sham virtue unless we act on it: "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:17).  The Holy Family believed all that God had revealed to them, and they acted on what they believed.  

St. Luke relates to us this weekend that “Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover” (Luke 2:41).  Why did they do that?  They went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover each year because God had revealed Himself to the people of Israel specifically through the Passover event.  In saving them from slavery and death in Egypt and bringing them into the Promised Land, God had commanded Moses to commemorate that salvation through a meal in which an innocent lamb was slain, its blood shed, and its flesh eaten.  He commanded that Israel observe a solemn feast of this saving event each year.  The Holy Family  believed what God had revealed and they gladly went to Jerusalem to celebrate it.  

But when they went there, faithfully observing all that God had revealed, they discovered suddenly that they had lost their child!  Recognising that Jesus was not with them in the caravan, they returned to Jerusalem and they sought for the child . . . for three days!  It must have been a harrowing search, indeed.  But they did not give up believing that they would find Him.  They believed all that God had revealed about this child, that He was to be the Saviour, and they acted in faith until they found Him.  They did not think that God had abandoned them or that they were alone in the world, even though they could not see Him and He seemed to be absent from their lives.

Do you and I have that same faith?  Do we also believe, when it seems like Jesus is not present in our families or in our personal lives in the way we had anticipated, that He is very real and very present?  There is one word that hovers over this Christmas Season and seeks to find a home in each of our hearts.  It is the word from the Prophet Isaiah that signals the coming of the Messiah: Emmanuel!  God is with us!  Do we believe that?  Do we act on that belief, everyday?

When it comes to the Theological Virtue of HOPE, our faith indicates that one of the central components is an abiding sense of trust, placing our present circumstances and our entire future in God’s promises, and not simply relying on ourselves.  The Catechism states that “hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit" (CCC, 1817).

When Mary and Joseph lost Christ, they did not give up or become despondent.  They trusted and hoped in God, believing that somehow, somewhere, they would find Him.  What ever gave them the sense that such a hope was well-founded and not just wishful thinking?  The great spiritual writers teach us that the Theological Virtue of hope is not so much rooted in what we desire to obtain in the future, as much as it is rooted in what has already happened in the past.  In other words, we can hold fast to hope, and trust in the promises of God, because He has already been so very faithful and kind of us in the past.  

God had revealed to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would conceive and bear a son, and that He would be the Saviour of the world.  She was perplexed by such an annunciation, and exclaimed, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” (Luke 1:34).  It was something that seemed impossible to her, and yet it all came to pass in a beautiful and mysterious way.  

Once the Child was born, Mary and Joseph were confronted with the overwhelming news that King Herod was seeking to destroy Him.  Joseph was instructed to take the Child and His mother and to flee to Egypt.  There would be no army accompanying them, no guide other than God Himself.  But God was faithful.  He brought them through.  It must have been extremely difficult to travel to a foreign land with a newborn child, but God had cared for them and brought them through that arduous trial.

Mary and Jospeh would have remembered these events while they were frantically searching for Christ.  Could the God who had brought them through such strange and frightening trials suddenly forget about them while they were looking for Jesus in Jerusalem?  Not a chance!  Mary and Joseph possessed the Theological Virtue of hope, trusting in the God who had always helped them in the past, and that he would be with them in their present difficulties.  Do we?  Is our hope founded on God?  Are our families founded on this same Theological Virtue of hope?

The final Theological Virtue, and perhaps the one our culture today most misunderstands, is the virtue of LOVE or charity.  The Catechism teaches that “Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love(CCC #1827).

Mary and Jospeh had great love, for God and for each other.  How painful and challenging for us this weekend, to see that love purified and raised up by God!  They believed that Jesus was in the caravan, and they trusted that He would be with everyone else when the group began to make their way home.  But Jesus, whom they cherished with love perhaps beyond our comprehension, was suddenly lost.  When they finally find Him, Mary expresses her anxious concern: “Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”

Jesus’ response is perplexing, at first: “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  But reflecting on this remarkable passage we can see that God was purifying their love and raising it to an entirely new level.  To love Jesus is to also love the Father, and the Holy Spirit.  To love in a human way is wonderful and necessary.  But let us not be at all surprised when, in 2019, God begins to purify that love and raise it “to the supernatural perfection of divine love.”  

The stronger these virtues are in us, then the greater we will possess the grace to dwell in relationship with God.  Importantly, the Catechism teaches us that these virtues are not acquired by working really hard for them and they are not the reward of something earned.  If we want an increase in the Theological Virtues, then we need to begin by asking God for them: “They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as His children and of meriting eternal life” (CCC, #1813).

With living faith, certain hope and a deep, abiding love, we pray once again that beautiful prayer from the opening collect:

O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Angels Among Us

St. Michael the Archangel, by Raffaello (1483-1520)

(Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time-Year B; This homily was given on November 18, 2018 at San Giuseppe del Monastero di Clausura, Rome; See Daniel 12:1-3 and Mark 13: 24-32)

Our readings for this weekend focus on the struggle between light and darkness, between the forces of evil and the power of God.  In the Gospel Jesus talks about the distress that will fall upon the earth in the end times, before He comes again:

In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
—Mark 13: 24-25

But the words of Christ are not words without hope.  He notes how the angels of God will be sent out at that time, to “gather together His elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky” (Mark 13:27).

This same mystery is described by the prophet Daniel in our first reading.  He also speaks about “a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time” (Daniel 12:1), truly a period of darkness and suffering.  Yet, Daniel is encouraged by the announcement that he will not be alone in the fight: “At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people” (Daniel 12:1).

God never abandons us.  He will always remain true to His promises, and He never leaves us without the protection and care of His holy angels.  We thank God this weekend for the myriad of angels that stand ready to follow God’s every command, and who do more for us than we will ever comprehend on this side of heaven.  

Throughout Sacred Scripture, we find three central activities or functions that occupy the angels of God.  Firstly, the angels worship God.  From the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation, constantly we see the angels worshipping God in heaven and singing aloud His praises.

Secondly, the angels carry messages.  The word “angel” is taken from the Greek word for “messenger.”  The Archangel Gabriel carried the message of the Messiah to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Archangel Michael will carry the message of peace to Daniel when he is tired and weary.  The angels bring us God’s message of encouragement and love in those places where we need to hear it the most.

But thirdly, and there is no denying it, the angels of God are fully engaged in one final cosmic activity: they fight!  They go to battle for the people of God against the powers of darkness, to protect us and to guide us in the paths of peace.   They will stop at nothing to bring us into the eternal light that God is calling us to.  They do not tire and will never cease to defend us and watch over us on our journey home to God.

St. Teresa of Avila, in her autobiography, tries to discourage any attempts to live a spiritual life as if we were already in heaven.  She writes, “We are not angels but we have a body.  To desire to be angels while we are on earth—and as much on earth as I was—is foolishness” (The Book of Her Life, Ch. 22, #10).  Nonetheless, we know very well how she also imitated the angels in the way she lived her life in the body, especially in these three activities we find in Sacred Scripture.  How is God calling us this weekend, not to be angels, but to imitate the angels by the way we live our Christian lives?  

Because we, too, worship God in this place.  Along with the angels, we sing His praises and adore the Lord.  We worship God who comes to us here in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, and we receive that “Bread of Angels,” strengthened for the work that God has called us to.

Secondly, we also carry God’s message of hope and salvation to a broken world.  By the way that we live and by the way that we love, we carry the message of the Gospel to those around us.  There are so very many people who long to hear that message.

Finally, we follow the example of the angels when we fight for those who cannot speak for themselves, for those who have been marginalized or who are suffering and in great need.  Only at the end of time will we know how much good was done by our fidelity to our Catholic faith and by the fruitfulness of prayer.  The greatest gift we can bring to those around us is to keep living our vocation well, to stay in the fight, and let God do what He wills by the power of His grace.

“We are not angels but we have a body.”  True enough!  But in our bodies, we pray for the grace to imitate the heavenly messengers, and to trust that God is doing great things in our midst.