evening, I attended a Commissioning Mass for members of the Ignatian Volunteer
Corps (IVC)* in Baltimore, Maryland (US). I am blessed to serve as a spiritual
guide for this group, and was commissioned as well. This rite came at a very
important time for me.
Regardless of the chaos enveloping both my country and my church these days, it
is essential I stay focused on what it means to be a Christian. I remind myself
each morning that my faith is not in institutions or governments. My faith is in
Christ, and I am called directly by him to reach out to those who are wounded by
poverty, oppression, and abuse; those whose bodily and spiritual needs are not
own need for personal prayer has increased recently, I guess as a way to shield
my soul from the bitterness that could easily overtake it. But I can’t go into
hiding either. Christ calls us from our places of protection to reach out to
those in most need of his compassionate presence.
passage from James comes at an important time as well, as does this Wednesday’s
reading from First Corinthians: “If
I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
(13:2) If we want to
keep our faith alive, let us turn to those in need--without judgment, without
bias—to see Christ’s face in them and allow them to feel Christ’s love from us.
It’s one thing
for Christians to buck the increasingly greed-focused, nationalistic climates in
countries around the world these days (although many do not); it’s another for
those whose churches are in crisis (and that’s not just the Roman church) to
stand up despite the sins and ethical compromises and capitulations of our
leaders. But this is the time when grassroots efforts are essential. I’m not
talking about protests and boycotts although there is a place for that. It is
time for us to show the world the true, un-politicized meaning of our faith.
particularly important in the example we set for our children and young people.
Even if you chose to forgo religious practice, you can still stay close to
Christ by finding him in the very people and places he told us we would find
him: in the poor, in prisons; in the elderly, in hospices; in the refugee, in
the stranger (Mt 25:35-36), and then reflecting on your service in prayer. I
encourage all of us: Give. Don’t give up.
"I hear when you meet as a Church there are divisions among you, and to a degree
I believe it; there have to be factions among you in order that those who are
approved among you may become known.”(1
Cor 11:17-26, 33)
The roots of
clericalism were there at the start. It’s not a surprise—Paul’s bias for
hierarchy has guided much of the top-down, patriarchal structure of the church.
But read further: He chastises the leaders (and the wealthy) for not reaching
out to those who have neither standing nor resources. And let’s not forget the
words of Jesus: “Whoever
and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave…”
(Mt 20:26-27) Something for our shepherds to revisit and renew in their lives.
in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body…and we were all given to drink
of one Spirit. Now the body is not a single part, but many. Now you are Christ's
Body, and individually parts of it.”
(1 Cor 12: 12-14,
fascinated by the study of immunology. While many substances used in this kind
of treatment are made in a lab, there is a type that uses cells from another
part of the person’s body to heal the part that is ailing. I don’t imagine Paul
ever dreamed of such a metaphor but I think he would delight in it now. The Body
of Christ is made up of everyone, not just our family or parish community. We
can’t heal all that ails our world but we can look beyond ourselves to share our
health to strengthen those who are ailing around us. If more of us would take up
residence in the heart of Christ, just imagine the healing presence we could
“To what shall I compare
this generation? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to
one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.
We sang a dirge, but you
did not weep.’”
of the New Testament translations I consult use the phrase “accost each other”
to describe the squabbles over the ministerial approaches of John the Baptist
and Jesus. It seems that from time eternal we have been dissatisfied, using the
marketplace to air our grievances and attack the other side. We surely see this
happening today, and the squabbles grow increasingly violent. Jesus tells us
Wisdom will prevail and we will come to see that, if the goal is truth,
we will be able to integrate different approaches; we will all focus on the same
end, rather than getting caught up in the means. Do you find yourself drawn
these kinds of arguments? Perhaps one way to settle things down is to find
common ground by agreeing on the ultimate goal. Say a quick prayer any time you
find yourself drawn into “the marketplace” of debate.
“For I am the least of the Apostles…because I persecuted the Church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been
ineffective.” (1 Cor 15:1-11)
reading appears in the lectionary, I’m compelled to include it. I think it’s
such a good reminder for all of us. ‘I was—I am—a sinner, but God’s grace
redeems me. And my thanks to God for his grace is to use it as an invitation
that others might accept that grace as well.’ “By the grace of God, I am what
I am.” AMEN! Let’s recite this every morning so we become more effective in
our work for God’s Kingdom!
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his
handiwork…Not a word nor a discourse whose voice is not heard. Through all the
earth their voice resounds, and to the ends of the world, their message.
I went on
retreat recently, and a comment from the retreat leader really stuck with me:
“If you want to know how much God loves you, just look around.” The psalmist is
reminding us God’s glory is evident every day in the rising and setting of the
sun. We don’t need big events or dramatic proof—the heavens declare it
unceasingly. We so often take God and God’s gifts to us for granted. Stop to
look around today and feel God’s love and presence surrounding and embracing
“It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.”
(1 Cor 15: 35-37, 42-49)
Paul is addressing the resurrection
of the body. I remember a debate concerning the literal translation of this
passage. One participant asked (tongue-in-cheek), ‘Well, do I get to choose the
age of my body that resurrects?’ I thought to myself: ‘What age of my natural
body would I pick to resurrect?’ Probably somewhere in my twenties, I’d say.
Then it occurred to me: ‘So, what was the state of your spiritual body at that
time? … hmmm …okay, never mind.’ We are told we are dust and unto dust we will
return. But we are also formed in love—the loving image of a merciful God—and
unto that love we will return as well. Don’t fret about mysteries we can’t
understand. God brings each one of us home when our spirits are most ready to be
Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to
maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life.
She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral
Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental
psychology and spiritual guidance. Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is
a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral
parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday
life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children,
David and Maggie.
We hope you
enjoy "Come and See!"
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