Four years have passed since Fort McMurray was devastated by fire. Stories are told, with great emotion, about the day when tens of thousands escaped by the one road out of town. The Israelites were lead by a pillar of fire at night as they sought the promised land. The people of Fort McMurray, many from New Brunswick, were SURROUNDED by fire and could only see the vehicle ahead of them through the dense smoke. As it grew hotter in their vehicles they thought only of reaching safety while pushing away the thoughts of failure.
Many prayed, and drew upon their faith and the faith of their parents. Some thought of loved ones, living and dead, to get them through. Others thought of the children in the car as their angels that day. Faith and love, and the concern for safety of others brought them through the fire.
St. Peter learned that reaching out in faith saved his life that day on the stormy sea. In times of crisis we would all like to be swept from present danger into a safe place. Experience teaches us that faith in Jesus enables us to reach deep down inside and find the strength and resources we need. It becomes very clear if we take time to give thanks when the dangers and sadness and losses have passed.
Having a close cousin can be like having a “bonus” brother or sister. That’s especially true if you were born in the same year, like Irish twins, and went through school together and shared activities and common interests. Jesus and John the Baptist were related. Their mothers were relatives. Jesus and John might have been cousins. They were born six months apart and their lives were connected from the moment of their conception.
When Mary learned she would be the mother of God’s Son most people around her did not understand. So she went to a safe place, to visit Elizabeth, whom she knew would understand and accept her. In the Visitation the unborn John moved inside Elizabeth. He acknowledged who Jesus was, announced this news to his mother and gave reassurance and comfort to Mary. As an adult, Jesus accepted baptism from John and John prepared others to hear Jesus’ preaching.
The news of John’s murder at the hands of a tyrant must have been devastating. Jesus withdrew but the crowds followed. Jesus responded, not with selfish complaints, but with compassion. He provided for the crowds and made sure they were nourished in body and spirit. There are people in our lives who inspire and teach us like this. They encourage us to seek the true bread from God. They show us that nothing can separate us from Him. The bonds of faith and love they share with us are never destroyed or broken but always help us to do what is right and good.
It was once said that
two of the best companions for a lifetime were books. The first, of course, was
the Bible. The second was a dictionary. Wisdom was to be found in the words we
read in the Bible. This wisdom opened our ears and eyes to the Word made flesh,
Jesus. Clarity of words (their meaning and spelling) was available in the
dictionary. With this clarity we could share and communicate what we had
discovered and understood about Jesus. The
Bible, or at least some of it, becomes inscribed in our hearts and on our
minds. Its truth, beauty and wisdom never change.
remained at our side, especially while doing crosswords or playing Scrabble! But
it is always incomplete and sometimes of no benefit. New words are added to our
language each day. Some reflect the role of technology in the world. Other
words just seem to be “made up”. They accompany fads and passing (or just plain
senseless) theories about who we are and about popular culture.
But there is comfort
and familiarity in the words of today’s Mass readings. Here is language we can
sink our teeth into! In seeking God’s wisdom we understand who we are, and in
whose image we have been made. We begin to understand that the things and
pursuits that we value in this life point us to God’s Kingdom, as long as we
guard against pride, greed and selfishness!
Memorials to be celebrated on Saturday, July 25 at 4:00 pm: John & Therese O’Keefe, Pierrette Higgins, Vincent Butler, Gert Hanlon, James Logan, James & Christina Tobias, Doreen Tobias, Barbara McCutcheon, Marlene O’Brien (A)