……from your Pastor’s Desk
Who Are We?
This Sunday Jesus begins to instruct the disciples about how to be his followers. In the Gospels of previous Sundays we have been following the story of his early career.
He went to be baptized. Then, when he heard that John the Baptist had been murdered, he moved from Galilee to Capernaum. He chose his apostles there. Last Sunday we reminisced about his “presentation” as an infant, which itself looked forward to his suffering.
In this week’s Gospel he tells them to “be what you are.” He gives images. If you are like salt, then don’t lose your flavor. If you are like a lamp then don’t put a basket over yourself where no one can see your light.
But would the disciples have followed Jesus if they had known what it really would mean to “be what you are”? The First Reading says it means to share your bread with the hungry, to shelter the oppressed and the homeless. Clothe the naked. Do not turn away from your own. This is how you let your light shine in the darkness. It is the meaning of “becoming yourself.”
A big assignment.
And in our own day, “I just want to be me,” sounds selfish.
“I can get whatever I want whenever I want it.”
“Take care of number one.”
“If it feels good, do it.”
And so on. In the older culture of the United States, one of the classic songs made popular by Frank Sinatra was “I Did It My Way”:
“I planned each charted course,
each careful step, along the byway,
and more, much more than this,
I did it my way.”
And so on. The main message is that “I” have succeeded in life because it is mine. Me! No one dared to interfere with me because I did everything “my way.”
There is a backdrop of fear in these lyrics, something about not being free to be myself, about having to do everything according to someone else’s will.
Aren’t we are just cogs in a giant, international, industrial wheel? The world and its population are very, very large, no surprise that mass production, mass advertising and mass purchasing give us the feeling that we are worth very little in ourselves other than contributing to the market, doing and buying what it dictates. Maybe we should at last face down the great machine and defy it outright. In the USA our coming election(s) and the surprising impeachment seem to hover around the same polarities.
But the scriptures assume just the opposite. They suppose that every human being is created with an unrepeatable, deep, interior shape. Rather than having to fight others in order to do my own will, I need to allow the Spirit of God to find a home deep within the interior space that is me. This Spirit will not invade me because it is the essence of respect, of forgiveness, of loving.
It is God.
You and I are built to be at one with this Spirit. “Becoming myself” means becoming what I was built to be, a home for the Spirit of Jesus and of God.
God’s love becomes us.
-John Foley, SJ
No Precious Blood offered at Communion time
No Holy Water in the fonts
No Holding of hands at the Our Father
No Shaking of hands at the Sign of Peace.
WHAT’S GOING IN HERE ???
It is flu season. I heard on the news that between 40-60,000 Americans die each year from the influenza virus. And now we have the Coronavirus to deal with.
People with the flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
So – Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Researchers observe that people touch their mouth, nose [or face] an average of 3.6 times per hour. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth when is a risky or densely populated area – such as in church at Mass.
People who are contagious might not even know at first. People with the flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness begins. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children and some people with weakened immune systems may pass the virus for longer than 7 days.
Symptoms can begin about 2 days (but can range from 1 to 4 days) after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those people may still spread the virus to others. This is why I state all these precautions and have taken measurements that I have.
Here is a few other things you can do. WASH YOUR HANDS – like, A LOT ! Cold and flu viruses may/can be spread indirectly [or directly as in holding or shaking hands—ergo not doing so at the Our Father and Sign of Peace— or using a vessel or item as in the Communion Cup] just after someone else who may have just sneezed or coughed into their hand.
Speaking of which – If you have to cough – cough into the crook of your elbow, not your hand.
And, not last or least – The first and most important step in preventing the flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.
So. Since flu can be spread by hand-to-hand contact, I encourage you to not hold hands at the Our Father. Instead, you can simply raise your hands as I do – or fold them in front of your heart. Also to bow or nod to your neighbor for the Sign of Peace [or an elbow bump will do]. These things will be awkward at first.
I am not going to call attention to anyone otherwise and it may take a while to get used to this, since this is pretty much the opposite of how we do things here at Holy Spirit. I am concerned for your physical health as well as your spiritual health.