Celebrate Sunday Mass - 7.18.21

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7/18/2021 (4 months ago)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

JULY 18, 2021 -- 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...

I AM HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU AN INVITATION TO SUNDAY MASS ON THE SIXTEENTH SUNDAY in OORDINARY TIME in the Catholic Diocese of Tyler. The response to offering these liturgies online has been overwhelming. The readings, as always, offer so much for us to reflect on. It is helpful to pray through them and reflect upon them before we assist at Holy Mass.

In our first reading, taken from the 23rd chapter of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, the Lord speaks through His prophet to the Shepherds, the leaders of His people, who were NOT caring for the flock entrusted to them with His own compassion, tender mercy and love. He says "...you have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them , but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.".

When the Lord raises up Shepherds and entrusts His flock to their care, He is serious. How they respond has consequences. The Lord Himself is the Good Shepherd and He promises to gather His remnant and bring them back. Then, to appoint shepherds who will care for them. 

How will He do this? By raising up a King, the Messiah, the Good Shepherd from the lineage of David. As Christians, we know that promise was, and is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. So, in our responsorial Psalm, we join the Prophet and Psalmist David in that beautiful 23d Psalm. "The Lord is my Shepherd..." 

In our second reading, we heard a part of the Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians. In this letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul addressed divisions within the early Church between Jewish and gentile followers of Jesus Christ. His words speak an important message to us in this new missionary age in which we live. 

Whole Nations which were formerly Christian, have turned away from God. As Christians, we are called to bring the liberating message of the Gospel to a broken world waiting to be reborn. Yet, as Christians, we are also divided, broken and at odds with one another. This not only impedes our effectiveness in our missionary efforts, it breaks the heart of the Lord. 

Paul told the Ephesian Christians in the passage we hear today that Jesus is "our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility." (Eph. 2:14, 15) 

Jesus is still our peace and the path to our own reconciliation today. Jesus alone can heal our divisions and create "in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace". That is because of one indispensable truth, "through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father."

We live in a broken world, an age filled with men and women who are already at odds, with themselves and with one another. However, knowingly, or unknowingly, every single man, woman and child on the face of the planet is searching for the hope and the healing which only the living God can provide. In the words of the great bishop of Hippo, Saint Augustine, "you have made us for yourself Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

The Lord Jesus offers that hope and healing right now. How? Through the Body of His Son, the Church, of which we are all members. 

In the fourth chapter of the letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul issued a plea, "I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  

He reminded them, that in the midst of their own divisions, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all."

In the Gospel appointed for this Sunday Mass, the Evangelist St Mark tells us that after the Apostles had returned from their first missionary journey and gathered with this Good Shepherd, Jesus, the Christ, the Promised Messiah. He invites them to come away for a while and rest. He Himself is the "Living Water", the "restful waters" of which we heard in the 23d Psalm. 

Throughout the biblical accounts of the earthly ministry and life of Jesus we discover, in his Sacred Humanity, the path to finding true rest for ourselves during our often hectic and fast paced lives. How do we find rest? By being in His company. Living our lives for Him. Allowing Him to live in us, and to live His Life through us.

He was regularly in prayer. He lived in a continual communion with the Father. He now gives us the grace we need to live in the very same way. The prayer of Jesus opened the heavens, brought provision to the hungry, gave Him clarity for making decisions and brought the glory of heaven to earth. Prayer still does all of this, and more, for those who will learn to live their lives immersed in God and decide to study in its classroom.

I am frequently asked what I think is the greatest need in the Church today. Because of my work, people presume how I will answer. They expect me to be what they perceive to be action oriented.  My answer is simple. "The greatest need in the Church today is people who pray", I respond.

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo was a close friend and confidante of St. Josemaria Escriva. Like his friend, the bishop was a man of true holiness, the kind only formed through living in an intimate communion with the Lord. A man who knew how to rest in the Lord. He once wrote: 

"The so-called "practical people" are not really the most useful in the service of Christ's Church, nor are those who merely expound theories. Rather it is the true contemplatives who best serve her; those with the steady, generous, and passionate desire of transfiguring and divinizing all creation with Christ and in Christ. It may sound paradoxical, but in the Church of Jesus Christ, the mystic is the only practical person."

 May the Lord Jesus Christ be the center of your life and the heart of your home. Have a wonderful Lords Day.

Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School

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