Please pray for the pastor of our parish family as he gets to enjoy a little R&R over the next few weeks. This is a man who gives his all for the church and is much deserving of a “holiday”.
Does today’s gospel from Matthew sound a bit familiar? It should, we had the same story proclaimed to us on July 1st only it was Mark’s account of the hemorrhaging woman and the young girl “sleeping”. I can only think that the importance of faith is being stressed here by Mother Church. A woman’s faith is so strong that she knows all she needs to do is merely touch the cloak of Jesus and she will be healed – made clean in the eyes of her society. So she forged her way to Christ touching his tassel. He immediately knew she had done this and turned to her and said “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” And from that hour the woman was cured. It was also the faith of the synagogue official that saved his daughter’s life. “My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.”
This is in stark contrast to yesterday’s Gospel that was proclaimed from Mark…
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Every Sunday following the 7:30AM Mass, Sarah and I have the privilege of having breakfast at the Kolache Factory directly across the street from STMM. Many times we are blessed to share the meal with Fr. Siefert or Msgr. Ramacciotti or Deacon Priess and sometimes all three. Yesterday Msgr. joined us for breakfast, along with a former seminarian from Omaha who was in town visiting. After listening to the Gospel, I had an idea as to why Jesus was not able to perform any “might deeds” in Nazareth, but I asked Msgr. Ramacciotti for an explanation. His simple answer was that in order for “mighty deeds” (miracles) to be performed one must have faith, one must believe in the power of God and Christ. Msgr. said it was “relational” act between us and God. If we don’t have faith that might deed can’t be done. That thought has been on my mind since hearing it proclaimed yesterday and confirmed again at breakfast.
My thoughts have been thinking about people’s lack of faith, doubt and sometimes bitterness towards God. My thoughts have been how miracles are happening around us everyday but can’t be seen by some because they don’t believe. But miracles aren’t my only thoughts from yesterday’s readings. I started the blog today asking for prayers for Fr. Siefert. He and all of the priests have been in my thoughts, especially after yesterday’s readings.
The first reading from yesterday talks to us about a prophet, Ezekiel, being sent to the Israelite’s and proclaim to them “THUS SAYS THE LORD GOD”. God knew they were a “stubborn people” and some would listen and some would not.
The second reading speaks of Paul’s thorn, an angel of Satan, that he requested God to take from him. But that wasn’t the Lords will; God’s grace was sufficient. So Paul proclaimed to all…I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
So what is it that I’ve been thinking about? Why do I ask for prayers for Fr. Siefert? I think God put’s prophets in front of us everyday in the bodies of our priests. Our priests stand before us everyday and preach the life of the Gospel to people who can be somewhat headstrong and stubborn. How often do we sit in church and hear the Word proclaimed to us, explained to us by our fellow priests and then leave church and continue on living the same life and making the same mistakes. Are we not the Israelite’s God is referring to in the first reading?
As for the thorn in Fr. Siefert’s side, that angel of Satan? I believe that to be his daily fight with diabetes. I can only imagine how many times he asked for that not to be a part of his life. I can only imagine how many times his parents have asked God the same thing. But I also believe that Fr. Siefert has come to understand what God talks about in the second reading. God’s grace is sufficient. In Fr. Jack’s weakness, he has come to trust completely in God and this is what makes him strong; it is Fr. Siefert’s total reliance on God that makes us all strong. There was a time in my life when I would host a pity party for myself because of all I do and how tired I am and I deserve a break today (Heck, McDonald’s based an old jingle on me – You deserve a break today…). I don’t feel that way anymore. I see the schedule Fr. Siefert maintains, I see the love he has for his “flock”, I witness the love he has for Christ and the Church and it inspires me. I love the fact that I am exhausted now. I try and do all I can – everyday – for the greater glory of God and if that means getting up at 3 or 4 AM, so be it. If that means spending more time away from home than at home because of commitments to STMM – so be it. I do have a family and I know its a delicate balance between personal family and church family, but I also know that i love my kids and I’m pretty sure they support everything Sarah and I do.
And now my final thoughts on the Gospel…a bit of a twist here. Jesus goes home to the Nazareth, His native place. I can imagine the excitement He must have felt going back home to his family and childhood friends. I think at first they were excited to have Him back home too but how quickly did that change. Here are my thoughts now about what happens in the Gospel. Ever wonder why most ordained priests are never assigned to the parishes they grew up in? I do and yesterday’s Gospel may be a good clue as to why this doesn’t happen. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. How hard it would be going to the place where you grew up and them taking offense at you? One quick example of this was when Msgr. Morris was assigned to STMM; it was the parish he grew up in but many in the parish who “knew Msgr. when” did not appreciate what he had become and quite frankly, took offense to him when he “came home”. Sarah and I didn’t know him when and appreciated fully his love of the Mass; my boys today still maintain contact with him. So, this is why I believe our priests are assigned elsewhere than their home parish. Sometimes the people closest to you remember you for what you were and not what you’ve become.
I’ve rambled on long enough. Do something great for our Lord today, support your parish priest.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.