BYE … FOR NOW

Bye…For Now

by Fr. Morgan V. Rice, CSB

One of the most difficult things about having visits from my family and close friends is their departure. It is always so good to see them and spend quality time with them; however, after they leave, there is an emptiness that results even though I am confident that I shall see them again. Of course, that might not be the case. Life is so fragile and death so unpredictable, especially when we consider tragedies like the mass shooting at that First Baptist Church in Texas last weekend. We keep in prayer those families who lost loved ones in that act of violence. May God strengthen their faith, and in their emptiness, may God fill them with the hope that we hear about in this weekend’s second reading. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul offers the Christian community some comforting words as they grieve the loss of loved ones. He reminds them of the hope that is central to Jesus’ message, the hope that has its basis in the Resurrection of Jesus. “Through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died” (4.14). We believe that the souls of the faithful departed, the souls of those for whom we pray and remember in a special way during the month of November, are with God. We, too, have that same hope, that after we are called to our eternal home, “we will be with the Lord forever” (4.17) along with the loved ones whom we look forward to seeing again. These are definitely encouraging words! So when we experience the death of a loved one, we believe it’s only bye…for now.

Sunday’s Readings:

Wisdom 6.12-16

Psalm 63

1 Thessalonians 4.13-18

Matthew 25.1-13

A House for All Peoples

A HOUSE FOR ALL PEOPLES

By Father Morgan V. Rice, CSB

The first reading from Isaiah ends with the Lord’s saying, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (56:7). The psalm echoes that notion of all people offering prayer to God in the response, “Let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the peoples praise you!” (67:3). Would that not be a beautiful experience of a united human family that has come to know our merciful and loving God shown to us in the person of Jesus Christ? I believe we get tastes of it when we, a diverse people representing different nations, cultures, ages, and backgrounds, gather together at the Eucharist to worship the Lord and be nourished by Jesus. This I have witnessed during my two or so months here at St. Basil’s; however, we know this is not the case in all parts of our world.

I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, Va., where the violent and hateful events of last weekend occurred. The demonstration of one group of people claiming to be superior to others goes against the future the Lord has laid out and against what Jesus taught us by his compassion and non-violence. Instead of the community of trust, mutual respect, and life that the Lord desires, the actions of those in Charlottesville led to the loss of human life and an atmosphere of fear and division. Condemning the violence at UVA, the university’s Rector wrote in a message to alumni, “We are all here for a purpose, and the events of the last few days have leant that purpose greater clarity and urgency”.

Events like Charlottesville certainly do clarify our purpose as women and men striving to live out Gospel values and bring the Good News of Christ to all. One of those values is to open ourselves to the gifts and goodness of others who come from backgrounds that we might have been taught to fear or be suspicious of. We do that when we make it a point to encounter and get to know others, particularly those who are different from us, with a belief that we can learn and be transformed from our interactions. Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman and the recognition of her tremendous faith demonstrated that his mission was broader than originally understood. To what insights might our interactions lead us?

In a couple of weeks, university students from around the world will be coming to begin the academic year. The University of St. Michael’s College campus will be abuzz with Orientation Week activities. As part of those activities, students will be attending the 4:30pm Mass on Sunday, 3 September. My hope is that hundreds will come to celebrate and will find a welcoming home at St. Basil’s, where together we can all join in praise of God and truly be a house of prayer for all peoples.

Sundays Readings:

Isaiah 56.1, 6-7 2

Peter 1.16-19

Matthew 17.1-9