Establishing a Relationship With Our Savior

Here we are well into May, entering the sixth week of our Easter season which this year, encapsulates Ascension Thursday (more properly named the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord). In our diocese (as with most U.S. dioceses) however, this solemnity will be transferred forward and celebrated next Sunday in place of the Seventh Sunday of Easter.

In our Gospel today, we heard it told that when Peter arrived, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet worshiping him, well-aware of Peter’s recent healing miracles. However, we are also told of Peter’s humble response, exhorting Cornelius to cease his kneeling and stand back up, explaining that he (Peter) was but a mere mortal. I recall Billy Graham also making a similar comment, relating that “People put me on a pedestal I do not deserve.” That brings to mind the attempted humble response by a young priest, who had just received a compliment regarding the homily he had preached, relating ”Oh, but that was due to the influence of the Holy Spirit!” The quick reply from the elderly parishioner was ”Oh, No, No. I didn’t think it was that good.” Certainly, it was meant as a compliment, and yes, we need to have good preaching, but we must be realists…we are only men or women.

It is fundamental for a Christian to realize that his or her faith is fundamentally a relationship with Jesus Christ and not with the pope, with the Church or with a priest. It is a relationship with Jesus; with the Suffering and Resurrected Christ, the teacher and the healer. Jesus is the one who is alive in the world today. Jesus has to become central to our life and our faith. We spoke last week about his real body and blood presence in The Holy Eucharist. Jesus wants to be intertwined in our lives and become more central in our lives and our faith. A quiet prayerful hour alone with him each week would certainly be a positive response to His fervently expressed desire.

So how do we “make contact”, so to speak, with Our Savior? We can establish a relationship with Him through his Word, His Sacraments, and through people…especially the people who make up the “Community of Believers” (the Church). Our “contact’ may well occur by a single line read from Scripture, or from a homily, such as the four words we heard Jesus speak to his disciples… “You are my friends…”. So, let us reflectively draw these words deeply into our hearts and our minds.

“You are my friends if you do what I command,” were the words that Jesus preached in today’s Gospel. Friendship has been called the most necessary form of love. Now this might sound a bit odd at first, as we consider that surely the love of a man and woman (the very foundation of the family and new life) is more fundamental than friendship. Certainly, life does go on when we lose each other to death or as the faithful would put it, “life goes on when one close to us returns to God”.

When the “final passage” of our own lives arrives, we might find ourselves alone, and very much in need of friends. Today, in our healthcare facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement centers, our beloved (our friends), should never be treated, or thought of, as a customer, a client, or a mere number. Those of us who are called to the noble vocation of “caregiver” (in whatever capacity), are indeed called to be “friends“. And this implies being compassionate and caring friends to the people to whom we are privileged to minister. The lack of this friendship, or intimacy with anyone, can be terrible.

While death is certainly imminent for us all, life is never-the-less very precious…to be given and taken, only by God. Our present-day culture has been inundated with moral erosion in a multitude of aspects, and most of them have to do with the sanctity of a moral life, lived within the parameters of our God-given guidelines for a moral life. While the prospects for ending legalized abortion have never been better, it still continues-on as a gaping moral wound for our nation. The confusing, erroneous and evil ideologies regarding marriage, birth control, homosexuality, and euthanasia that are being promulgated by the liberal media and activists, appear to be rapidly gaining prevalence and acceptance. We need to reassess our concern and commitment to become vocal and active in defense of morality in our lives and speak out against these evils. We are all called to be “care-givers” to our neighbors as well as our family. Let us become more outspoken and outraged by the rapidly spreading legal mandates to terminate the life of the non-contributing elderly and children.

What just took place in England with Alfie Evans, virtually replicated the lost battle here in the U.S. for the life of Teri Schiavo. We need a more heightened awareness of the growing disrespect for life in our country and a renewed commitment by each of us to do all we can to preserve and enhance the protection afforded all citizens, at every stage of life. A great start would be to join our parish Respect Life Ministry. Please call or let me know you would like to consider joining us.

Yours in defense of all life,