Reflections from the Shrine ...
MARY AT LASALETTE ACCOMPANIES US, ENCOURAGING US DAILY, TO DRAW CLOSER TO HER SON
The past few weeks have given us several examples of not only how important is the gift of our faith in God, but also how much we need to depend on one another. That helps us come through the very difficult moments that are part of the lives of each one of us.
The fierce rain storms and hurricanes in Texas and Florida as well as the tragic violence that occurred this past week at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital challenge many of us to slow down and ask: "Where is God in all of this?"
The message of Our Lady of La Salette can be such a good response to that question. That is because it shows that God is very close to us in those storms and events that seem to have no logical explanation. Through the tears of Mary, she displays God's own compassion for us, His forgiveness, calling us to "Come near, my children, do not be afraid. I am here to tell you great news."
But that requires constant transformation from doing our will to trying our best to do God's will; from not focusing only on the darkness but rather being aware of the light of love all around us, in God, and in our own families, friends and neighbors, as well as the splendor of nature's beauty.
The readings for the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette give us so much to reflect upon so that we can better understand the plan of God and our purpose in life. The Gospel shows us how Jesus instructs his own beloved mother to be with us, even as he himself is dying on the cross. He expresses it so simply, "Woman, there is your son." And to John, his beloved disciple, "There is your mother."
The reflection from the book of Genesis reminds us that God has an eternal covenant, like a marriage bond, between Him "and all living beings - all mortal creatures that are on the earth." Through Saint Paul, God gives us the timeless challenge: "that he has entrusted the message of reconciliation to us. This makes us ambassadors for Christ, God as it were appealing through us….."
So let us obey Mary with our whole being, to convey to others around us, by words and especially by our example: "Now, my children, you will please make this known to all my people."
We will have the last session on "Love in the Family" this coming Tuesday evening in the cafeteria from 6:00 to 7:30 PM. All are invited to participate. On Saturday September 30th, we will have a blessing of animals at 10:00 AM by the statue of Saint Joseph behind the cafeteria. This will be in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron of animals, as well as Pope Francis' Encyclical: "Caring for Our Common Home." Please bring your pets that transmit so much joy to our lives.
Father John Sullivan M.S.
THE WORK OF RECONCILIATION IS NOT JUST PERSONAL BUT COMMUNAL AS WELL
In this month of September when we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette, we have a powerful example of reconciliation, which is the main message of her Apparition, in today's Gospel. In the opening lines, Jesus instructs us: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone." Do not do it in public. That could humiliate him, but do it in private, and not in judgment, in love, with hopes that he will respond and listen.
The whole process of correction is done in such a spirit of love and patience. It is a process. If the person will not listen, we are told to go to the second level, to ask the help of two or three witnesses so that together, the three or four of you can give "testimony" of the person's error. Like any process of correcting another, this is difficult, and it can only be done, I repeat, in a spirit of love and truth.
It is surprising the depth of love that Jesus shows in this instruction. He goes to a third level if the person continues to not listen - to the Church or the whole community. This clearly demonstrates that a person that is disruptive in the Church can effect not just another person but the entire community. It is the responsibility of the whole community then, to respond, in love.
I recall how I painfully learned from my own experience at our Shrine in Attleboro, Massachusetts to be loving to my community and not judging. It was a situation of a member of the community who had special needs - for professional help. In my self-righteousness, I thought we could handle it if only we gave the person enough of our help and attention. I was mistaken and had nor respected the opinion of the Community. It took me some time to listen and discover the best solution to a difficult situation.
The La Salette Cross that is so much at the heart of the message of Our Lady reminds us that it is easier to grab the hammer in judgment of others instead of the pliers, to remove our hard nails of self-righteousness or indifference. Our Lady's tears remind us that compassion is at the heart of any solution.
We are also encouraged by the closing lines of today's Gospel. Our Lord is always present with us, whether we are alone or in the company of others. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
For our Shrine announcements, we have a second collection this weekend for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Also do not forget our triduum for the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette. Friday and Saturday, Mass and procession beginning at 6:30 PM. Sunday Mass and devotions begin at 11:00 AM. Today, September 10th, during the hospitality session after Mass, we will present information on the theme of our La Salette Laity program .
Father John Sullivan M.S.
DO NOT MISS THE BEST PART BECAUSE YOU ARE UPSET BY THE FIRST PART
There is a dramatic change in Jesus' attitude toward Peter from last week 's Gospel to this week. This past Sunday Jesus was saying: "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church." Today he is saying, "Get behind me, Satan . You are an obstacle to me." What happened? From calling him a "rock " to calling him "Satan" is quite a transformation.
Last week Peter was obedient, listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit in his heart. This week Peter is trying to take charge, to tell Jesus what to do. Like ourselves, he has gone from obedience to disobedience, from doing it God's way to trying to do it his way.
The words of Jesus are very important: "Get behind me….." Or, in other words, you are the disciple, follow me. I am the Messiah and I will lead you. "You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." Perhaps in the words of Jesus, he is saying that my idea of a Messiah is to suffer and die for my people to show them my love and not to dominate and kill their enemies who are the members of the Roman Empire.
That is still a very difficult lesson for us to learn, to try to think as God does and not as us human beings. Like Peter, we are shocked by the first things Jesus says: "that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed……."
We do not listen to the last part of his message; "and on the third day be raised." As it has been said countless times, we cannot arrive at Easter Sunday if we do not pass through Good Friday. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."
It is a walk in faith, no escaping it. However it is worth every sacrifice to lose our lives for Christ and then to discover those lives again with all their richness and love and joy, as if for the first time. We need to pray that God will teach us, even if we are slow learners. Like Peter, it is a gradual process that extends over our entire lives. But what an adventure, what a reward, what a meaningful life of love we can have if only we can get behind Jesus and let him show us the road ahead.
Because of the tragic flooding in Houston, Texas and the surrounding area, we will have a second collection next weekend. All the money collected will be sent to Catholic Relief Services to be used to help the flood victims. So please come with a little extra to share. You are reminded of the next presentation this Tuesday evening on "Love in the Family" in the cafeteria from 6:00 to 7:30 PM. You are also reminded of our triduum in this month of September in honor of Our Lady of La Salette on the 15th,16th and 17th. More information will be given next week.
Father John Sullivan M.S.