Fr. René Butler MS - 21st Ordinary Sunday - The...
The Key (21st Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 22:19-23; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20) As usual, there is a clear connection between the first reading and the Gospel. It lies in the symbolism of keys. Eliakim will be given Shebna’s keys; Jesus entrusts the... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 20th Ordinary Sunday - A...
A Universal Message (20th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 56:1-7; Romans 11:13-32; Matthew 15:21-28) For reasons that are not immediately clear, Jesus’ mission did not include the gentiles, though he did respond to the prayer of a Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13)... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 19th Ordinary Sunday - I...
I will Hear (19th Ordinary Sunday: 1 Kings 19:9-13; Romans 9:1-5;  Matthew 14:22-33) The story of Elijah in the cave almost gives the impression that it came as a surprise that God would come to him in “a tiny whispering sound.” After all,... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 17th Ordinary Sunday -...
Share the Wealth (17th Ordinary Sunday: 1 Kings 3:5-12; Romans 8:28-30;  Matthew 13:44-52) When we say we love something—a favorite food or sport or music—it is simply a way of saying we take special delight in it. It is not quite the... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 18th Ordinary Sunday -...
Come, Listen, Live (18th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 55:1-3; Romans 8:35-39;  Matthew 14:13-21) “Come, without paying and without cost,” says Isaiah as he promises an abundance of food and drink. What could be more appealing?  At La... Czytaj więcej
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Items filtered by date: May 2020

Manna in the Desert

(Body and Blood of Christ: Deuteronomy 2:8-16; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58) 

Moses tells his people that God deliberately tested them with afflictions. To modern ears, this is perhaps more shocking than Jesus’ telling his disciples, in the Gospel, to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

Every age has its time of testing: persecution, disease, economic collapse, famine, etc. How are we to make sense of this? 

Let us read Moses’ words more attentively. God’s purpose was twofold: to “find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments,” and “to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.” 

At La Salette the Blessed Virgin was very much aware of her people’s affliction. She came to beg them to honor God’s commandments. While acknowledging their hunger, she regretted their failure to seek the Bread of Life. “In the summer,” she declares, “only a few elderly women go to Mass. The rest work on Sundays all summer long. In the winter, when they don't know what to do, they go to Mass just to make fun of religion.”

Let us return to Moses, and hear his words in a broader context. Before mentioning the afflictions, he says: “Remember how for forty years now the Lord, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert.”

Thus, along with the afflictions of hunger, thirst and serpents, God provided manna, water from the rock, and the bronze serpent.

St. Paul reminds us: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” He wrote this in a time of testing: there were many divisions in the Christian Community of Corinth, and his point was that our sharing in the cup and in the bread makes us one. 

The Mass is not just an obligation. It is a precious gift. When we forget this, we forget precisely what Jesus meant when he said, “Do this in memory of me.” He invites us to his table, that we may receive life from the Living Bread, and sustenance in our times of affliction.

Wayne Vanasse and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Published in MISSION (EN)

Be with us, Lord

(Trinity Sunday: Exodus 34:4-6 & 8-9; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18) 

“If I want my Son not to abandon you, I am obliged to plead with him constantly.” The Beautiful Lady’s words reflect the situation of Moses in our first reading, from the book of Exodus.

This is not the first time he has pleaded with God not to abandon his people. Psalm 106 sums up the situation: “Then he [God] spoke of exterminating them, but Moses, his chosen one, withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath.”

We are not surprised to find that God continues, to this day, to forgive his people (with or without punishment). He chose Abraham and his descendants and made promises that he intends to keep. John puts it beautifully: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

Love and intimacy go together. Friends share secrets, each entering gradually into the mystery of the other. So it was with God and Moses. In Exodus 3, God revealed to Moses his mysterious Name—the Name which must never be taken in vain.

For Christians, the name of God in the Blessed Trinity is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We cannot adequately understand this mystery, but that does not prevent our entering into it. St. Paul writes: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

Moses prays for a similar blessing: “If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company.” This scene bears out what is written in the previous chapter (Exodus 33:11): “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a person speaks to a friend.” 

I have seen, in a tiny private chapel, a stained-glass window that presents a unique image of Our Lady of La Salette. She is kneeling before her Son Jesus. He is seated, holding a cross-shaped scepter in his left hand, while his right hand is raised in blessing. Her face is sad, his gaze is peaceful and loving. 

In this solemn yet simple encounter, we can imagine her prayer, very nearly in the words of Moses: “This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon their wickedness and sins, and receive them as your own.” 

Blessed Trinity, one true God, be with us always!

Wayne Vanasse and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Published in MISSION (EN)

The Gift of Tears

(Pentecost: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7 and 12-13; John 20:19-23) 

St. Paul writes: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit.” In the omitted verses (8-11) of the second reading, he gives examples and, later in this same chapter, he cautions individual Christians against thinking their own gifts are better than those of others.

If we look at many of the great spiritual writers over the centuries, however, there is one gift that is absent in Paul’s list: the gift of tears.

In the Bible, tears and weeping are most often presented as an outpouring of grief, remorse or supplication. However, universal experience teaches us that tears provide release for a great variety of other emotions as well, including joy, gratitude, awe. All of these have one thing in common: intensity of feeling.

We must keep this in mind when we think of our Weeping Mother. Think of her sorrow as she complained of her people’s ingratitude and confronted them with their sins, and especially when she said, “However much you pray, however much you do, you will never be able to recompense the pains I have taken for you.”

Her tears disclose also a Mother’s infinite tenderness, as she speaks of the death of children, of impending famine, of a widening rift between her people and her Son. 

Here let me mention some notable exceptions to what I wrote above about tears in the Bible. When Jacob and Esau met after years of alienation, we are told: “Esau [the offended party] ran to meet him, embraced him, and flinging himself on his neck, kissed him as he wept” (Gen. 33:4). The same language is used for the reunification of Joseph with his brothers (Gen. 45:14-15), and with his father (Gen. 46:29). 

In our reading from St. Paul, the Greek word for “gift” is charisma. We often say the La Salette “charism” is reconciliation. Today’s Gospel offers that very gift, in Jesus’ words to his Apostles: “Receive the Holy Spirit: Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.”

If Mary’s tears can lead us to rediscover her Son’s immense love for us, and his desire for reconciliation with us, and if we can respond in kind, then what a gift those tears are!

Wayne Vanasse and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Published in MISSION (EN)

Gone but not Absent

(7th Sun. of Easter: Acts 1:12-14; 1 Peter 4:13-16; John 17:1-11; OR Ascension: Acts 1:1-11; Ephesiens 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20) 

Depending on where you live, you are today celebrating either the Ascension or the Seventh Sunday of Easter. Today’s reflection includes both.

We see Jesus at the end of his earthly career. Acts describes the Ascension, Matthew implies it. In John, Jesus says, “Now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”

Another theme is glory. On the Seventh Sunday, Jesus says: “Father, the hour has come... Now glorify me with the glory that I had with you before the world began.” On Ascension, St. Paul writes: “May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.”

“Knowledge” occurs also on the Sunday: “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.”

And in both, Jesus speaks of his disciples. They have kept his word, he has been glorified in them, and will be empowered to become his witnesses, making disciples of all nations.

All this is reflected at La Salette. Mary appears in glory; she seeks to re-awaken her people to a knowledge of God. She commissions Mélanie and Maximin (and, later, La Salette Missionaries, Sisters and Laity) to spread her great news “to all my people.”

Jesus promised to be with his disciples, “until the end of the age.” The Beautiful Lady’s attentiveness to the details of the children’s lives shows that she is a faithful companion on our earthly pilgrimage.

As mentioned above, Acts describes the Ascension of Jesus: “He was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.”

I always smile at how the children described Mary’s disappearance at the end of the Apparition. “She melted like butter in a frying pan,” they said. Various sources have “in a pot on the fire,” or “in soup.”

They never saw her again, but she never lost sight of them, or of us. If only we could recognize this and remember.

Wayne Vanasse and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Published in MISSION (EN)
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