Items filtered by date: July 2022


(21st Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-13; Luke 12:22-30)

In recent weeks we have reflected on some challenging readings, and today seems to be no exception. In Hebrews we are told to accept trials as a form of discipline. In the gospel, Jesus tells us to enter by the narrow gate.

Fortunately, this is not the whole picture. Discipline “brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness,” and Jesus concludes, “People will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.”

The first reading reflects this more optimistic view. God declares, “I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.”

This reminds us of an American hymn composed 40 years ago. Its title is Here in this Place, but it is also commonly called “Gather us in,” from a recurring phrase in the text. (We apologize for using a source unfamiliar to many. We hope it will remind the readers of our French, Spanish or Polish editions of similar hymns in your own language.)

“Gather us in, the lost and forsaken/Gather us in, the blind and the lame.” We may feel the weight of our sins, like the famous ghost of Marley in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, who dragged behind him a ponderous chain forged by selfish greed.

Still, we hope to be admitted to the grand assembly. The next two lines read: “Call to us now and we shall awaken/We shall arise at the sound of our name.”

The first pilgrim to La Salette was the Blessed Virgin. She called two children to herself. That was the beginning. Since then, many hundreds of thousands have walked the mountain paths or driven the steep and winding roads so as to stand where she stood, and hear her words in the very place where she spoke.

Here the words of the second reading take on a new resonance: “So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.”

The first line of the hymn we have quoted is: “Here in this place new light is streaming.” How could we not think of the light emanating from the Beautiful Lady’s crucifix? La Salette Laity, Missionaries, and Sisters in all the world can reflect that light, gathering others in.

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

Published in MISSION (EN)

Radical Faith

(20th Ordinary Sunday: Jeremiah 38:4-10; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53)

Jeremiah, committed to his prophetic ministry, was deeply disliked. His enemies, in the first reading, accused him of demoralizing the people.

The message of La Salette has a strong prophetic character. It is not surprising, then, that La Salette is less well known, less popular than other Apparitions.

Jesus encountered opposition on many sides. One of his Apostles betrayed him. In today’s gospel he tells his disciples to expect the same, even from their own family.

The second reading does not minimize the struggle we face. The last verse even raises the prospect of shedding blood. But it reminds us that Jesus “endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart,” and exhorts us, “Let us persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”

We cannot be expected to enjoy conflict. In fact, in many social situations it is considered bad form to discuss politics or religion; it is too unpleasant, too divisive; it causes too many arguments, too many hurt feelings.

It pains us, as people dedicated to the cause of reconciliation, to see so much dissension. It can be so overwhelming that we are tempted to look away. But then we would not be true to our vocation.

Every time we hear Jesus’ words, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division,” it comes as a shock. After all, at every Mass we hear his other saying, from John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” Can both of these sayings be true? Yes. External conflict need not exclude inner peace.

We need to understand and accept just how radical it is to believe in God and to seek to do his will. Is our faith on fire? Is it blazing with love for God? Do we have that most precious of gifts from the Holy Spirit—a proper fear of the Lord?

We must not be lukewarm in our faith. Nor may we be belligerent. But imitating the Beautiful Lady’s gentle approach, “Come closer, don’t be afraid,” we may, like her, offer Christ’s peace to the world.

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

Published in MISSION (EN)

Ready for the Pilgrimage?

(19th Ordinary Sunday: Wisdom 18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48)

Brothers and sisters, are we ready?

Have you ever planned to leave home at a certain time for a special event, only to have last-minute delays? These can be due to unforeseen causes, or to our own procrastination.

As indicated in today’s first reading, the Hebrews in Egypt knew that their deliverance was at hand as they celebrated the first Passover meal. In Exodus 12, they were told to eat in haste, with staff in hand, sandals on their feet, and dressed for travel. They had to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. They were about to become a pilgrim people. Their hope was in God.

The Beautiful Lady of La Salette came to renew her people’s hope in the midst of a desperate situation. She didn’t just say, “Everything will be all right.” Rather, her message is that of today’s Psalm: “See, the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.”

In the Gospel Jesus tells his disciples, “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.” This is not about Christ’s second coming, but about our availability to respond when he calls.

This same spirit appears in our second reading. Abraham’s faith is presented as a model. At La Salette, Mary came to revive her people’s faith.

At the beginning of today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples: “Sell your belongings and give alms... For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” He is speaking of charity. This term has two meanings. In ordinary usage, it means kindness, especially to the poor. In theological language, however, it refers to holy love, the greatest of all virtues, poured into our hearts by God. It is our inexhaustible treasure.

Mary did not speak of charity in her Apparition. Rather, she demonstrated holy love in her words, in her tears, her tenderness toward the children.

We can join our efforts to hers. For example, when we recite the rosary, we can offer a portion of it for an increase of faith, hope and charity, in ourselves first, and in all with whom we walk our pilgrim way.

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

Published in MISSION (EN)
Sunday, 10 July 2022 07:24

Rosary - July 2022

Published in LAY ASSOCIATES (EN)

What Matters to God

(18th Ordinary Sunday: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21)

Ecclesiastes, from which the first reading is drawn, makes the famous statement, “Vanity of vanities!” In Hebrew this mode of expression is used as a superlative, as in Holy of Holies, and King of Kings.

The text continues, “All things are vanity!” The author insists on this thought. Jesus, In the Gospel, says much the same in his parable, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”

In a limited, more specific way, Mary at La Salette twice notes the futility of human efforts: “You will never be able to recompense the pains I have taken for you,” and “If you have wheat, you must not sow it.”

Paul writes to the Christians of Colossae, who seem to be struggling with their own vanities. “Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another.”

He calls them to continued conversion: “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” This parallels the conclusion of today’s Gospel, where Jesus warns us not to be like “all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

Reflecting on all this, one could get discouraged. Don’t we have the right to work in view of improving our situation? Is everything we do meaningless?

That cannot be. In another letter, in fact, Paul reminded the Thessalonians: “We instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.”

So, we are not insinuating that one must not labor. But we have a responsibility to be prudent stewards, properly directing or redirecting our labors, our lives back to the one who created us and called us to his service.

Here let us remember the Beautiful Lady’s injunction to pray well. In the morning we can offer our day’s work to God, and at night give thanks for what we have been able to accomplish, and, during the day, say a prayer before we begin any work. All things are vanity only if we fail to do them for the glory of God.

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

Published in MISSION (EN)

Powerful Prayer

(17th Ordinary Sunday: Genesis 18:20-32; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13)

Today the obvious theme of the first reading and the Gospel is prayer. The Psalm, too, always a prayer in itself, acknowledges, “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.”

When we say God answers prayer, we usually mean that he gives us what we ask, as Jesus promises. But the parable in the Gospel shows that we may need to ask repeatedly. Abraham, in the first reading, understood this. He kept returning to the same subject. At La Salette, Mary said, “If I want my Son not to abandon you, I am obliged to plead with him constantly.”

God tells Abraham of the “outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah.” There is an echo here of Genesis 4:10, where God says to Cain: “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!” God cannot ignore the gravity of the sin. The time has come to act.

When the Beautiful Lady speaks of the heavy arm of her Son, she implies a similar outcry. The situation warrants an urgent response.

What is the outcry today? What should be at the heart of our prayer? Where are we called to bring our charism to bear?

Abraham hoped his prayer would be heard because he had a special relationship with God. Even more so, the Blessed Virgin, as the “Queen Mother,” could rely on a favorable hearing from her Son, but she needed a response from her people as well: submission, conversion, trust.

Jesus encourages us to pray with confidence. This does not mean we are entitled to everything we ask the Lord for. God, whom Jesus compares to a caring parent, knows what is best for us.

That said, God takes the initiative, as St. Paul writes: “Even when you were dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; obliterating the bond against us.”

In fact, through the trials of life, God may actually be guiding us to prayer, whether we are immediately aware of it or not, so that he may communicate with us and direct us toward his plan for our lives. Let us therefore persist in prayer and in living out our faith.

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

Published in MISSION (EN)
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