• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Friday, 24 August 2018 18:39

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B - 2018

Written by Fr Larry Nemer SVD

Fr Larry Nemer SVD 150Today’s Gospel reminds us that our faith journey can sometimes experience some serious challenges.  Jesus had said things about Himself and about eating His body and drinking His blood that a number of his followers could not accept.  They stopped following Him.  And so He asks the twelve: will you also leave?  It was Peter who said, not exactly in these words, we do not understand what you are saying but we have nowhere else to go; we will continue to follow you.Today’s Gospel reminds us that our faith journey can sometimes experience some serious challenges.  Jesus had said things about Himself and about eating His body and drinking His blood that a number of his followers could not accept.  They stopped following Him.  And so He asks the twelve: will you also leave?  It was Peter who said, not exactly in these words, we do not understand what you are saying but we have nowhere else to go; we will continue to follow you.

A few years ago when I was on my Home Leave in Chicago my brother asked me to visit one of our cousins who was dying of cancer.  I had performed her wedding just two months after I was ordained.  When I got there she asked her husband, daughter, and my brother to leave the room.  I thought that maybe she wanted to go to confession.  But that was not what was bothering her.  She asked: Fr Larry, do we know that there is a heaven?  How I wish I could have said: yes, we know there is a heaven.  But I felt that I had to be honest with her.  I said: Dorothy, we don’t know if there is a heaven, but we believe there is a heaven.  We then talked about what our faith tells us about life after death.  In the end she seemed to be at peace with the understanding we have from our faith.  She asked her husband and daughter and my brother to come back into the room.  We joined hands and prayed.  When I was leaving she said: Fr Larry, you know what is the first thing I am going to do when I get to heaven?  I said: no, Dorothy; what is it?  She said: I am going to ask my mother why she was so mean to me!

Our faith is different from our knowledge based on reason.  While we can show that our faith is reasonable, we cannot reasonably prove a faith statement.  In the 1950s a Catechetical Training Centre in Belgium popularised the saying: “faith is caught, not taught”.  We believe because of the witness of others; we trust that if they believe it, it must be true.  

St Thomas Aquinas said in a hymn written for the Feast of Corpus Christi: “Faith offers a supplement for what our senses fail to tell us.”  Often when I hear this sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, I think back to the evening before I was ordained.  We were still saying Mass in Latin at that time.  I wanted to make sure that I got everything right.  I said all the words from the beginning to the end, even the words of consecration.  But I knew at the end of my practice that the bread was still bread and the wine was still wine; they had not become the body and blood of Christ.  The day after ordination I said Mass for my family.  I said all the prayers I had said in my practice.  And the bread still tasted like bread and the wine still tasted like wine.  But when I looked at the faces of my parents I knew then that I was not just “their baby son” giving them bread and wine, but I was a priest giving them the body and blood of our Lord.  It was a lesson in faith I have never forgotten.

We are sometimes tempted to give up our faith.  Things can go wrong and we have a hard time believing in a God who loves us.  If there is a God, we think, God doesn’t seem to be responding to our prayers.  Why should we trust in a God we cannot see?  It is hard.

A number of years ago I was asked to go to the Philippines to teach for one semester since the Seminary had unexpectedly lost its Church History lecturer.  I was very excited about going.  But two months before I was scheduled to leave I found out that one of my sisters had cancer of the brain and had only months to live.  I didn’t know what to do.  I wanted to go to the Philippines, but I also wanted to be with my sister when she died.  I talked to a friend, and she asked: have your Superiors asked you to go to the Philippines?  I said: yes.  She then asked: do you trust God?  I gulped and said: I think so.  She said: then do what the Superiors have asked you to do.  I returned to the States as soon as my teaching commitment ended and arrived home a week before my sister died.  We had a very important week together when both of us could prepare ourselves to accept her death.  I discovered again that God is indeed trustworthy.

It can be very hard at times for us to hold on to what we believe.  But with the help of a believing community and the grace of God we can continue to trust in God even when there seems to be only darkness.  A number of saints have gone through this trial (e.g. the Little Flower, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. John of the Cross), yet they never lost their faith in God.  We too are able to remain faith-filled.