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Reflections on Catholic Faith - August 2009 - What is Your Relationship with the Lord Like?

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August 17, 2009

Your Relationship with Jesus - Like the Rich Man?

I heard a man say something... and it has stuck with me and stuck with me. I want to ‘say’ it to you and see if it resonates similarly with you... Try this on for size:

“Sometimes I think I’ve surrendered everything to the Lord. And then He whispers in my ear and I realize there is one thing -- one solitary thing I’ve not surrendered to Him.”

How about that statement for you? Is there something you’re holding onto that affects the relationship you have with Jesus? Or is there something you are holding on to that is adversely effecting your relationship with others?

Has He asked you to give up something that you are stifling... not listening to? Alcohol? Some form of drugs? Has He asked you to do more for and at your Church? Has He called your attention to a co-worker struggling to find someone who will be a friend -- but no one seems to care for this person? Has the Lord called you to come back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)? Are you having an intellectual intimacy with someone which robs your spouse or family of attention and intimacy they have a right to experience with you? What are you holding on to?

And now look at the words of today’s Gospel....

The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
We often hear this Gospel and think of it in terms of money and possessions. And frankly, many of us are possessed by our possessions. But I think another message of this Gospel passage is to be open to Christ’s voice... the voice that asks us to let go. Let go of that which impedes our journey towards God. That which interferes with a fully joyous relationship with those we ought to be close to.
And so I repeat... is there anything you are holding on to that the Lord is asking you to surrender for the cause of relationship with Him (or others)? If your answer is no -- then please pray for me.
Blessings. Deacon Tom

Reading 1

Jgs 2:11-19

The children of Israel offended the Lord by serving the Baals.
Abandoning the LORD, the God of their fathers,
who led them out of the land of Egypt,
they followed the other gods of the various nations around them,
and by their worship of these gods provoked the LORD.
Because they had thus abandoned him and served Baal and the Ashtaroth,
the anger of the LORD flared up against Israel,
and he delivered them over to plunderers who despoiled them.
He allowed them to fall into the power of their enemies round about
whom they were no longer able to withstand.
Whatever they undertook, the LORD turned into disaster for them,
as in his warning he had sworn he would do,
till they were in great distress.
Even when the LORD raised up judges to deliver them
from the power of their despoilers,
they did not listen to their judges,
but abandoned themselves to the worship of other gods.
They were quick to stray from the way their fathers had taken,
and did not follow their example of obedience
to the commandments of the LORD.
Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, he would be with the judge
and save them from the power of their enemies
as long as the judge lived;
it was thus the LORD took pity on their distressful cries
of affliction under their oppressors.
But when the judge died,
they would relapse and do worse than their ancestors,
following other gods in service and worship,
relinquishing none of their evil practices or stubborn conduct.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 106:34-35, 36-37, 39-40, 43ab and 44

R.  (4a)  Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They did not exterminate the peoples,
as the LORD had commanded them,
But mingled with the nations
and learned their works.
R.        Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They served their idols,
which became a snare for them.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to demons.
R.        Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They became defiled by their works,
and wanton in their crimes.
And the LORD grew angry with his people,
and abhorred his inheritance.
R.        Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Many times did he rescue them,
but they embittered him with their counsels.
Yet he had regard for their affliction
when he heard their cry.
R.        Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.


Mt 19:16-22

A young man approached Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He asked him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

August 10, 2009

A beautiful, sunny morning as we went to Mass. I was deacon today and it was a blessing for several reasons. Among them, today of course is the Feast of St. Lawrence, a deacon who gave his life because of his participation at a Mass at the very catacombs that we visited while in Italy.

Another reason for blessings this day includes the fact that it is the birthday of my late father, Thomas LAWRENCE Fox... and today, the announced Mass intention was for my dad. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace, Amen. It would be my guess that someone in his family of origin (God rest grandmother Mary and grandfather James) was holy and faith-practicing that they would include the name of the saint of the day in my dad’s official name. May it please God that this is what happened.

As deacon, St. Lawrence was the keeper of the money.... the funds of the Church and it was that fact that gave him a couple extra days of life because the authorities wanted access to the funds of the Church. Lawrence said it would take a couple days to gather the ‘riches’ of the Church. They let him go and in a while, Lawrence brought all the poor and needy of this ‘diocese.’ He said to the Romans -- ‘these are the riches of the Church.’ His words didn’t endear him to the authorities and he was summarily executed.... by roasting....

As I have written in other times and places, we visited the same catacombs where days before Lawrence was executed, Pope Sixtus and four of his deacons were all summarily executed for being Christ-lovers... Christ-followers. Their witness was total and without pleadings to be spared.

How strong is our relationship with the Lord that no matter what... no matter... we are His and we won’t shirk from it. Not just in Church by loud singing and being a minister of some sort... but outside in the world. As a matter of fact -- I may venture that witness in the Church is easy and relatively pain-less. It needs to be matched with witness in society where there is likely to be rejection or derision. Derision seems such a little price compared to giving away a life....

That said... Thomas Lawrence Fox wasn’t a vibrant Catholic in this world witness sense. He gave family witness by going to Sunday Mass and doing his Easter duty.
And the result of that was that as I grew up, I believed that Church was what we did. I’ve written and preached about this a lot. Church isn’t all that much what we do... though that is important. Church is what we live... it’s how we live. And a life lived for one hour on Sundays isn’t going to give much witness to the world.

St. Lawrence... please pray for us to grow in our faith practice. Help us to give evidence of what we profess in our prayers and liturgies. St. Lawrence, help us to get over the notion... the world-induced notion that our relationship with God is defined by the building we are in and the day of the week.

August 3, 2009

I'm Sick of Ministry

Let me share a story – an experience with you. It was the first Sunday after I was ordained in which I was to preach at all the Masses. This was in our little resort town of Estes Park in Colorado. The Masses were packed every summer weekend – people even standing in the aisles…

While I had preached before – I was nervous somewhat as this was a sort of kickoff to being the assigned deacon in this Church. Now it also happened to be the Fourth of July Weekend – and I chose to build up a Red, White and Blue homily…. Love of God, love of the Catholic Church and love of Country.

In my effort to speak of God being in charge of and working in all circumstances – I must have struck a note that sounded too political when I minimized the federal spending that was going on at that time – my point wasn’t to support or denigrate anyone or any party – but to say that God will help us get through all these foibles and things that distract us from turning to Him.

Well – outside – after the first Mass that I delivered that homily – wouldn’t you know that an argument ensured between a few visitors and some who came to my defense.

 A group from California (I could make a comment but I won’t… J) was claiming they didn’t come to Church to hear political homilies – the other group was saying, “You must not have been listening… this is what the Deacon was saying…” etc. 

Now – consider, please the readings for today…Here is Moses – trying to lead and love his people… and what is it that he’s come to? Speaking to the Lord, he says “Why do you treat your servant so badly? Why are you so displeased with me that you burden me with all this people? Was it I who conceived all this people? Or was it I who gave them birth…?”

Thank you Moses – you give me help and hope that I won’t tire of the work of ministry… And you give me hope that God listens and will sympathize when people are restless and upset and seemingly not always pleased… Such is ministry…

What I yearn for is the ‘ear of God’ that I may talk with Him and have Him console and strengthen me… strengthen other priests and deacons who deal with this stuff all the time…

I yearn for a relationship with God that helps me to be patient and kind even when I’m sick of ministry… I yearn for a relationship with God which confirms that He approves… He understands … and He’ll take care of the flak.

And then – as a topic for the month – I thought I might ask you... What kind of relationship do you have… or do you want with God? And what are you doing about it?


Deacon Tom


Reading 1
Nm 11:4b-15

The children of Israel lamented,
“Would that we had meat for food!
We remember the fish we used to eat without cost in Egypt,
and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks,
the onions, and the garlic.
But now we are famished;
we see nothing before us but this manna.”
Manna was like coriander seed and had the color of resin.
When they had gone about and gathered it up,
the people would grind it between millstones or pound it in a mortar,
then cook it in a pot and make it into loaves,
which tasted like cakes made with oil.
At night, when the dew fell upon the camp, the manna also fell.
When Moses heard the people, family after family,
crying at the entrance of their tents,
so that the LORD became very angry, he was grieved.
“Why do you treat your servant so badly?” Moses asked the Lord.
“Why are you so displeased with me
that you burden me with all this people?
Was it I who conceived all this people?
Or was it I who gave them birth,
that you tell me to carry them at my bosom,
like a foster father carrying an infant,
to the land you have promised under oath to their fathers?
Where can I get meat to give to all this people?
For they are crying to me,
'Give us meat for our food.’
I cannot carry all this people by myself,
for they are too heavy for me.
If this is the way you will deal with me,
then please do me the favor of killing me at once,
so that I need no longer face this distress.”

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 81:12-13, 14-15, 16-17

R. (2a) Sing with joy to God our help.
“My people heard not my voice,
and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
they walked according to their own counsels.”
R. Sing with joy to God our help.
“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
against their foes I would turn my hand.”
R. Sing with joy to God our help.
“Those who hated the LORD would seek to flatter me,
but their fate would endure forever,
While Israel I would feed with the best of wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”
R. Sing with joy to God our help.

Mt 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
He said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me,”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over–
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.


© 2006-2009 Deacon Tom Online

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