Fr. Kevin’s Column 1/24/2021

Dear friends of God,

As I write this column, I am thinking of the tension that is taking place in our world at this moment.

By the time you read this, we will have transitioned from the Presidency of Donald Trump to the Presidency of Joe Biden. I am confident that we each share the same prayer that this will be done as it has from the inception of our nation, peacefully. Our present struggles suggest to me that we are deeply in need of transformation as both a nation and as a world. God continues to break into our lives, to offer us the gifts that we need to become our higher selves that he has created us to be and is our birthright as his children and as the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. Last weekend I spoke of prayer as the vehicle for both our relationship with our God and with each other and also the way of personal and universal transformation God is calling us into in this present moment.

 

Maryknoll missionary priest Father Joe Veneroso recently shared the following poetic words on Twitter. I love the necessity of conversion and how traditional transformation is in our Catholic spiritual life:

 

Divinity into humanity
Water into wine
Wine into blood of Christ
Bread into body of Christ
Eucharist into us
Spiritual life is about transformation or it is nothing.

Lately I have been reading a lot from our modern Christian prophets particularly Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, Trappist Father Thomas Merton and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s interesting that all three were mentioned by Pope Francis when he spoke to our national leaders in the fall of 2015. I am struck by how their writings offer the wisdom that we need at this moment in history even though Dr. King and Thomas Merton died in 1968 and Dorothy Day passed away in 1980. Let me offer you this example. Dr. King uttered the following words that we need to embrace without hesitation: “We must learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish as fools.” It seems like we are rather foolish at this point.  We need to find ways to build community, to create what Dr. King referred to as the beloved community and what Jesus called the Kingdom of God.

 

The prophets’ words are timeless and always challenging. The prophets rarely give us the comfort that we think that we need. One modern prophet spoke of “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” We could say that many of us are far too comfortable and complacent in our faith. We can easily forget that Jesus comes from the prophetic tradition and all Christian prophets since Jesus have been propelled in their call to the witness of Jesus Christ.

 

This weekend we hear Jesus challenge us with these words:

 

“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.

Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

 

Repent is a word that we likely associate with Lent. Repent is the English translation of the Greek word metanoia.  It literally means “beyond thought.” It is far more than giving up chocolate for Lent. It is about a transformation of our way of thinking, our way of living, it is about letting go of anything that stands in our way of taking up our cross and following the Lord. It is the big stuff that we can easily minimize by thinking that Lent is a good time to lose some weight. It is good that the Church has given us this passage from the beginning of Mark’s Gospel in this third Sunday of Ordinary Time to prepare ourselves for our Lenten journey, which begins in a little over three weeks. Repentance is a life-long process for living the Kingdom of God, but it is something that we need to take seriously especially during this time of social upheaval. We are called by God to live his Kingdom of love. Together let us in prayer and action, ask God to re-create us into the people of his Kingdom of justice and peace and prophets of a new world truly made in the image and likeness of God.

Much love,

Father Kevin