Hey, Dad

Guercino God the Father.jpg

My parish has Perpetual Adoration, with parishioners taking turns being there in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Anyone can come and go, but, at least in theory, every hour has at least one person committed to being there every week. Wednesdays at 6AM are mine.

I usually start off with a rosary, then do morning prayer, and finish off with some time meditating on the Mass readings for the day. Today’s Gospel is a nice one–Luke’s take on the Our Father:

LUKE 11:1-4

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”

The Our Father is my fall back prayer when I just don’t know what to say. I never get tired of it, and it seems like there is always something new to discover.

What stood out for me today was the intimacy of Jesus giving this prayer to his apostles. What do I mean by that? Well…bear with my clumsy words and clumsy analogy for just a minute.

Before I begin, let me say that in real life, I had a pretty sheltered and stable upbringing. I have a cool father and family.

But for just a moment, imagine you’re a broken little kid from a broken home, unsure of yourself, lonely, longing for love and forgiveness and acceptance. And then you meet this guy, Jesus, who takes you under his wing, claims you as a brother.

He has a relationship with his father you can only envy, and his father is everything you’ve never really had: loving, forgiving, merciful, kind. And your new friend tells you to call him father. “Daddy,” even. It’s sort of embarrassing and sort of wonderful. He’s totally bringing you into his perfect family, telling you to forget whatever came before.

“I can’t,” you tell him. “I mean, what would I even say to him?”

And so, he tells you. He encourages you, and gives you words. It’s so generous, and so gentle.

I’m not good at talking to strangers. I’m not good at new situations. I love that Jesus not only shares his Father with us, but also takes the time to give his disciples guidance as they learn to pray, gives them a formula to fall back on.

Maybe some of them were awkward introverts like me. I kinda like that idea.

Save

Rock

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

MATTHEW 16:13-20

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Frankly, I struggled a bit to find any deeper meaning in the readings this week. I mean, on the surface, they’re pretty cut and dried: God appoints who he wishes to appoint, and, as St. Paul says in the second reading. “How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” Hey, Peter, you’re in charge.

In the end, I got caught up in seeing things from Peter’s perspective. On a personal level, I can identify with him a bit here because I feel like I’m in a time of transition: making some adjustments, working a little to find who and what and where I’m meant to be. And I wonder what Peter felt in the midst of some of these GIANT CHANGES God was working in his life. He had a stable life at one point, a familiar place, a job he knew and understood. In a short period of time, he answered a call and left all that behind. He is given an entirely new name. Although we aren’t told all of his thoughts, I can imagine it must have frequently been both humbling and terrifying.

He was a simple fisherman. There were so many disciples who were, on the surface, much better prepared to lead a Church that would sweep the world: educated men, men with important families, important positions. Can you imagine what people would say today if you decided to assemble an international organization, and out of the blue you stuck some small town fisherman at the head? It boggles the mind. I feel for him.

And yet, he managed it. God gave him the wisdom he needed, the knowledge, the people to support him. He found his faith, and in the end, he found the strength to die for that faith.

It gives little old me hope.

Multiplication

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.”
Jesus 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.
MATTHEW 14:13-21

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My own brief thoughts from today’s Gospel/homily: the disciples were told to feed the crowds themselves. They knew they didn’t have enough, that what Jesus asked of them was crazy by normal standards, but they had faith and brought him what little they did have. He did the rest. Yes, he could have created food out of nothing, but he chose to use human beings–with all their shortcomings–as his instruments.

Yes, what we’re called to may seem crazy. It may seem like way more than we can handle. We may want to give up, or we may wish God would just take care of everything without any effort on our part, without being transformed through his grace working through us. Instead, we need to bring our meager offerings to him–our small talents, our feeble strength, our few resources–and let him take them farther than we dream possible.