Appleton, WI

Jan 19: In Joy and Sorrow by Fr. Bill

Last Tuesday morning, my day was unfolding as usual. You need to know that I am a creature of habit. After my time in prayer with the Lord, with my cup of coffee and my half glass of pomegranate juice (or cranberry or V8 juice), I have my very predictable breakfast. This is always a hard-boiled egg, a half of bagel with cream cheese, a piece of fruit or fruit cup, and something sweet. My brother always encourages me to forget “the something sweet.” On Mondays, I treat myself to a Subway egg, bacon and cheese flatbread sandwich.

As I was just finishing my breakfast, and solved the Daily Jumble Puzzle, my doorbell started ringing frantically. I answered in my bathrobe, and one of our parish workers directed me to throw on some clothes and evacuate the house. Accidently, the gas meter was hit during the snow plowing of the driveway, and gas was hissing out. I quickly blew out my prayer candle (!) and got out. All was well.
Within a short time, repairs were made with the help of the Appleton Fire Department, WE Energies, and the gas company.

Coincidentally, the Gospel of Mark for the First Tuesday in Ordinary Time was the story of the Lord Jesus’ tender encounter with the man possessed by a demon. The demon mocked Jesus. Jesus, with compassion and power, demanded silence and cast the demon out of the man, with the command “Come out of him!” It was a wonderful example of the liberating power of Jesus. Archbishop Fulton
Sheen called attention to the “expulsive power” of Jesus. As I was asked to “come out” of my house, I reflected about Jesus’ desire to be at home at the center of our hearts. The challenge to grow in holiness is always about taking an honest inventory of what is in our hearts and what impedes
the flow of Jesus and His grace through our lives. What needs to come out of our lives so that Jesus can come into our lives more fully? It is always so that “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.” If we truly want Jesus to, he can speak the word that will begin the process of the healing of our hearts and lives. Jesus is able to perform miracles today!

Looking at the calendar for this week, January 22 marks an infamous day in our nation’s history; the day the US Supreme Court legalized abortion across our land. The taking of the lives of the Lord’s Beloved Little Ones while still in the wombs of their mothers is a grievous crime against the Lord and all of humankind. We must continue to go all out in supporting mothers who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, and many times caught in the grip of poverty and without health care. If we value unborn life, we must find ways to minister to those moms who feel they have no way out. Lowering the number of abortions across this land is something to work towards. Addressing poverty and universal health care will help with this goal. In the meantime, we must touch the hearts of women and men with the Lord’s marvelous love. Opening to that love will convict us that we cannot deny the right of life to our precious unborn little ones! Changing laws without changing hearts will not eliminate this grievous evil from our nation. Demonizing the opposite side will not help either.

Finally, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on January 18. Pope Francis will kickoff the week-long observance with Evening Prayer at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Last year, Pope Francis said: “It is easy to think that the spiritual grace granted us is our property, something to which we were due. The gifts we have received from God can blind us to the gifts given to other Christians. It is a grave sin to belittle or despise the gifts that the Lord has given our brothers and sisters, and to think that God somehow holds them in less esteem. When we entertain such thoughts, we allow the very grace we have received to become a source of pride, injustice, and division. And how can we then enter the promised kingdom?”

Let us pray this week for a greater respect for the preciousness of all human life – from the womb and all the way to the tomb! Let us pray for a greater love for all our Christian sisters and brothers that one day soon we may all be gathered around the one Table of the Eucharist! Thanks for taking the time to read this In Joy and Sorrow!

Father Bill +