From Our Pastors
In the gospel for the coming Sunday, Jesus asks his disciples “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” The response turns into a guessing game until Peter declares: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus affirms this response and then after empowering this community against the power of evil and sin, tells them not to tell anyone who he is. But really it makes sense because in the end people have to have the experience of grace for themselves. Peter experiences God’s grace in Jesus which leads him to his declaration.
Paul Tillich, a 20th century Theologian would say that grace is not believing that something is, rather that grace strikes us, and in that experience, we come to encounter, God, Jesus, hope, healing. In a 1948 sermon entitled The Shaking of the Foundations, Tillich preached that grace is like “…a wave of light (that) breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: “You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know.” Tillich offers the idea that God is the Ground of our Being, that upon which our life in both its finitude and infinite reality come to make sense. Peter had that experience and we are invited to do so as well.
These days much has not made "sense." As we continue to navigate the challenges and changes of our times, grace, the experience of the Divine, is the sustaining gift of God. As Catholics one of the means of grace are the sacraments of the Church. We have begun to celebrate Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations and more will come. These are not simply rites or liturgies but opportunities to experience the acceptance of the very life-giving presence of God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We are sharing the pictures and moments with you over these weeks, not only to help us connect when we cannot do so physically, but because these are enduring signs of the acceptance each of us is offered in the community of faith. Sometimes we can try too hard to “feel” or experience the Divine and God or Jesus becomes an object in our minds rather than experiences in our hearts. How do we experience grace? In that same sermon Tillich suggested four things not to do and one thing to do: “Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted.”
This week let’s pray for each other that we might accept that we are accepted by God through Jesus and live as an empowered community of faith to right wrongs and to bring healing and justice to our lives.
Fr. Michael Callaghan, C.O. and Fr. Mark Lane, C.O.