Monday, September 26, 2016

In the Presence of God

The image that Job presents of God is awe-inspiring: “He alone stretches out the heavens and treads upon the crests of the sea” (Jb.9:8).

We are in the presence of the Master of the Universe even though we do not see Him. Unable to grasp the awesome grandeur, we worship and adore Him. As we bow down before the Divine Majesty, He stoops down from His cherubic Throne and raises us up.

Job reminds us that in the presence of the All-Holy One, no one is holy or pure. If we are permitted to stand upright before Him, it is because of His mercy and loving-kindness. God acts with power, which we know not. His love is everlasting. Like Job, we choose to believe in Him, even though everything we touch turns to dust.

The self-revelation of God to us is totally a gift. “By natural reason man can know God with certainty, on the basis of his works. But there is another order of knowledge, which man cannot possibly arrive at by his own powers: the order of divine Revelation. Through an utterly free decision, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. This he does by revealing the mystery, his plan of loving goodness, formed from all eternity in Christ, for the benefit of all men. God has fully revealed this plan by sending us his beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit” (C.C.C. #50).

Trust in the living God is the anchor of our souls. For this reason, we should seek the Presence of God in all things, good and bad; in all circumstances, favorable or painful; and in all people, likeable or distressing. We have been loved without measure, and we are to love without measure.

Only those who totally empty themselves in service of others, as Christ emptied Himself for us can enter the Kingdom. To follow the Lord is not to find earthly glory. To follow the Lord is to embrace the Cross, where the emperor has no clothes and the king has no place to rest His head. Only He Who is powerless and rejected by all has the power to win all of humanity for the sake of the Kingdom, making them Children of God. By being nailed fast to the wood of the Cross, Christ freed us to surrender to the Father’s will for us.

How awesome to think that we are loved, even though we do not deserve it. When asked to explain the mystery of redemption, all we know is that we have heard the call and responded to the promptings of the Spirit. The rest in in God’s hands.

--Father Jerome Machar, OSCO

Friday, September 16, 2016

Gentle, Still Passages of Life

11 He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ (1 Kings 19: 11-13)

Elijah the prophet's vision is awe inspiring to say the least: a howling wind, a tremendous earthquake and a raging fire. These phenomena bring to mind previous manifestations of God’s presence on Mount Horeb. When God visited His people, loud thunder and fierce flashes of lightning filled the sky and fire prepared His path. A trembling shook the ground and filled the people  with fear and terror.

God is not a play thing or a toy. He is the creator and master of the universe.

Recall the words penned by the psalmist: “The heavens declare the grandeur of God and the firmament declares the work of His hands” (Ps. 19:1).

All these manifestations demand that we acknowledge God’s power and majesty. Because of His greatness we have reason to hope, even in the face of severe trials. At the presence of the Lord, all of creation trembles.

But the people He has called into His presence have nothing to fear because He is their Rock, their redeemer. No matter what threats we must face, the Lord of Hosts is with us.

Over the tumult, one can imagine hearing the voice of the redeemer: “Calm down and don’t be afraid. It’s me” (Mat. 14:27).

When we encounter storms while responding to the call of the Lord, He manifests Himself and clothes us in His abiding grace. Our confidence rests in the belief that Christ is near to guard and protect us.

We are allowed to face our own weaknesses so that we would learn to depend on Christ’s redeeming power. It is when we call out to Him for help that He stretches out His powerful right arm to save us. Recall the words taken from the Gospel of Mark: “Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Hush! Be still!’ Suddenly the wind lulled and there was a great calm” (Mk.4:39).

Even on stormy days, when we seem to be tossed about in every direction, the Lord is present to be our peace and rock of refuge.

In the lull, there is a hush and a gentle breeze carries the words: “Rise up, my love, my beautiful one! Come away with me. The winter is past, the storms are over and gone” (Song 2:10-11).

The voice of God’s Love Incarnate has the power to take possession of our hearts. The object of our life’s journey calls us to himself. We are invited to come away from the tumult of the world and enter into fellowship with Christ and to live the freedom of the Children of God. When the Beloved Son comes to us in those gentle and still passages of life, may we go out and stand before Him.

--Fr. Jerome Machar, OSCO

The Lion of Israel

 A passage taken from the Book of the Prophet Amos brought to mind images of Aslan and Narnia. The profession of faith recounted in Deuteronomy is very straightforward. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is One” (Deut. 6:4). The one God is the Lion of Israel. When His roars, who will not be afraid?

Despite our egalitarian approach to life, we are not God’s equals and we cannot domesticate the Lion of Israel. We live in His kingdom by His grace and benevolent will. This can prove disconcerting in a “feel good” society.

Some of us may remember Mr. Beaver telling Lucy “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you”

The Lion of Israel is ferocious, not safe, but at the same time He is good, because as Saint John wrote, “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). “Let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 JN. 4:7). To love God is to be willing to take risks, because love is not safe. Divine love does not ignore sin, but allows for mercy. Love isn’t safe, but it is good and seeks the truth.

“The lion roars – who will not be afraid?” The Psalmist wrote, “The fool says in his heart, there is no God” (Ps. 14:1). Since there is no God, the individual considers himself free to do whatever he or she wills.

We seem to keep forgetting that God does not need our belief in Him for Him to exist. The ancients knew this and celebrated it in their liturgical songs. “Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered. May His foes flee before Him. May He blow them away like smoke – as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God” (Ps. 68: 1-2).

With all His might, God protects all that is His own. As we read in the Gospel of Saint John, “I give them eternal life, and they will never be lost; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (Jn. 10: 28-29). God not only speaks words of love, but He also has the power to save all those He has made His own.

“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).

 When the Lion of Israel roars we have no reason to fear. While He may not be safe, He is good and loving. Certainly the Prophet Isaiah understood this. “The right arm of the Lord is not too weak to save, not His ear deaf to hear” (Is. 59:1).

The Lion of Israel is on the prowl, looking for someone He can free from slavery to the world and claim as His very own. The Lion of Israel is not tame, nor can He be domesticated, yet He roars with the inexpressible fullness of Love.

 While the circumstances may differ, each of us is called to have faith and trust in the Lord. When we hear the roar of the Lion of Israel, let us kneel before Him in humble adoration. True life begins when we stop living for safety and start risking self-sacrificing love.

--Fr. Jerome Machar, OSCO

Purified by Divine Love

We gathered at Mass to hear the Word of the Lord and partake of the Bread of Life.

Like the prophet Isaiah, we find ourselves in the presence of the heavenly host, that cloud of witnesses that stands where the Most High dwells. With the prophet, we are given a glimpse of the divine majesty and forced to acknowledge our sinful unworthiness to be there.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews put it quite clearly: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).

It takes my breath away to think that we take the living God into our hands. Think about it. The fire of divine love places Himself in our grasp.

The zealot Paul had a similar experience of God’s overwhelming presence. While on his way to Damascus, he was wrapped in a light that blinded him and brought him to his knees. Like the prophet, I can imagine his saying, “I’m doomed!” (Is 6:5).

Both Paul and Isaiah found themselves confronted by the Holy One of Israel. In the light of that vision, each had to grapple with his unworthiness.

We find a parallel story in the Book of Genesis. “Jacob was left alone, and wrestled with a man there until the breaking of the day. And when the stranger saw that he was unable to overpower him, he struck his hip joint and dislocated it” (Gen. 32: 24-25).

Having been purified in the crucible of divine love, these men are all set aside for a special ministry to the people of God.

God’s Word is a live coal and the Holy Spirit is its fire. We are cast in to the crucible of divine love each time we receive the Bread of the Word and the Bread of Life.

Like the patriarch Jacob, we mindlessly wander into the presence of God. “Surely the Lord in in this place, and I didn’t even realize it” (Gen. 28:16).

We cannot always be focused on the Presence of the Holy One in our lives, but when we are granted a glimpse of His presence we must acknowledge that He is holy and we are not.

By the freely given grace of God we, each time we hear the Word and receive the Sacred Body of the Lord, are conformed to the person of the Beloved Son and made new. God is the only one who can purify our lives and empower us to serve the Gospel.

Like those who have gone before us, may we see the Holy One and repent of our sins. When the Sacrament of Divine Love touches our lips, may it take away our iniquities and cleanse of us our sins. Having been purified by Love, may we be used as ministers of love, forgiveness and reconciliation.

--Fr. Jerome Machar, OSCO

Objects of God's Ferocious Love

Several times, I have mentioned Aslan in a homily. Some people were taken aback that I should present such a ferocious image of God as this lion from the Tales of Narnia.

At the risk of repeating myself, God is not a household pet. He cannot be caged or domesticated. He is the God of glory and majesty and He loves us.

We read in the Gospel of John: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (Jn. 3: 16-17).

It takes strength of will and self-mastery to forgive. Only a God of power and might can take our deformed nature and reshape it in the grandeur He intended from the beginning of time.

It takes great love to recreate us in His image and likeness without destroying us. It takes child-like trust to place ourselves in the powerful hands of the Potter Who desires to shape us into vessels capable of containing His Spirit.

The purpose of the image is not to frighten us but to remind us that we are the objects of God’s undying and ferocious love.

It is with this ferocious lover that Abraham is haggling for the lives of the people in the condemned city of Sodom. Remember that. Knowing that we are loved we can take to risk of making demands of the One who loves us.

Abraham is imposing upon one who accepted his hospitality.

Abraham is haggling with one who allowed him to wash his feet.

Abraham is seeking clarity from one who accompanied him on his journey.

That is not a bad context for heartfelt prayer.

The story of Abraham mirrors ours in many ways. God comes into our lives, uninvited. He is willing to accept whatever we are willing to offer in the way of hospitality. Then He takes us with Him as moves on. The ferocious and infinite love of God allows us to connect with members of the Blessed Trinity, for to grow is love of all whom He loves and to pour ourselves out in serve of those He sends our way.

Having grown up in an old ethnic neighborhood, I find it easier than some to imagine the passage of time. When I was growing up, someone was always running to a neighbor to get a cup of sugar. There was always someone ready to offer a helping hand when you were in need and you never imagined being sent away empty-handed.

No doubt, this is what Jesus had in mind when he told the parable. “Imagine going to a friend at midnight because a surprise visitor has come from out of town and your cupboard is bare. Hospitality demands that the visitor has to be fed." Breaking bread with a guest is a sign of sharing life. As Jesus is telling the story, you can almost hear the pounding on the door and the grumbling from inside the house. Yet Jesus keeps building the dramatic tension. This request goes beyond self-respect; it goes to the heart honor and community identity. Anyone who could was expected to help. Being refused in a time of need would be unthinkable.

On one side of the door is pounding and loud cries for help. On the other, growls of protest and threats of reprisal. The parable seems to be a long drawn out question: Would you expect a friend to refuse you in your time of need? Of course, the answer is NO! And so the pounding and begging gets louder and louder, until the door opens.

 As to a trusted friend, we turn to the Lion of Israel in our times of need. Because He has a ferocious love for us, we can be confident that God will give us whatever we need. Through the parable, Jesus is encouraging us to express our trust in God’s ferocious love. Like the neighbor in need, we should not get discouraged or give up. We need to remember Jesus’ words: “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you” (Lk 11:9).

--Fr. Jerome Machar, OSCO

I Will Place My Law within Them

“I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:33). So the Lord spoke to the prophet Jeremiah.

God is speaking to His people, assuring them that He Himself is their teacher. All of us who are taught by God are taught to love one another by the mere fact that God is writing His Word upon our hearts. By means of this implanted Word, we discover the path to newness of life.

As God promised to His Chosen People, He now speaks intimately to each of us, calling us by name; not just any name, but a name known only between us as intimate friends.

The life of faith is not a recital of rules and regulations. The life of faith is entering into an embrace of love that brings us into communion with the Persons of the Trinity. In that embrace, we come to know that we are loved and forgiven.

In this knowledge, we will become Ambassadors of healing and reconciliation for a world scarred with violence and sin. This pardoning mercy flows from the pierced heart of Christ and is freely given to us to be shared with all who are in need of forgiveness.

Having been conformed to Christ in baptism, it is not out job to condemn sinners but to call them back to fullness of life and grace.

The mystery of grace is not that we seek to know God, but rather that we come to realize that we are known by Him.

Acknowledging this love, we can love others with the same all-consuming love. In a world that continues to seek retribution and to fan the flames of hatred, such love is absolutely revolutionary.

The message will not be written on banners or placards, but shall be etched upon the tablets of our hearts. When God pours forth His Spirit upon us, we will not burn the cities of man, but will be consumed by the fire of divine love.

I will close with a few words of Pope Francis, spoken at the prayer vigil in Krakow: “This is no time for denouncing anyone or fighting. We do not want to tear down, we do not want to give insult. We have no desire to conquer hatred with more hatred, violence with more violence, terror with more terror. We are here today because the Lord has called us together. Our response to a world at war has a name: its name is fraternity, its name is brotherhood, its name is communion, and its name is family... Let our best word, our best argument, be our unity in prayer.”

--Father Jerome Machar, OSCO

Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

St. Lawrence was put to death simply because he was a deacon.

According to tradition, Lawrence had been assisting Pope Sixtus at the altar when both were arrested. After Sixtus was beheaded, Lawrence was given three day to collect and hand over the treasure of the church. During this time, he sold all the vessels of the church and gave the proceeds to the poor of Rome. According to the traditional accounts, Lawrence led a procession of poor, crippled, blind and suffering people into the emperor’s present and boldly declared: “These are the true treasures of the Church.”

It is shocking at times to think some people are more concerned about the sacred vessels of the altar than about human beings who are sacred to God.

Viewed in the context of St. Lawrence, we can say that a church that has a large endowment and a beautifully appointed sanctuary cannot consider itself rich as long as there are poor and destitute people sitting outside its door unattended to.

Money bestowed in charity is the seed sown with a prodigal hand. Help should be given freely and cheerfully, not grudgingly.

If we truly believed that God has a homeland prepared for us, we would waste less on ourselves and sow more in hope of a bountiful harvest. God is able to make grace abound in and around us. He can and does provide us with our daily bread, giving us enough to supply for the needs of others. We must never forget the unspoken answer to Cain’s question. We are our brother’s keeper!

The great desire of our souls should be to see Jesus in the poor and to recognize Him in the Breaking of the Bread. As we are fed by the Living Bread, we should pledge ourselves to become bread to feed the world.

A loaf of bread cannot be made unless the wheat grain is sown into the earth where it casts off its outer shell and releases the abundant life it contains. The salvation of the world depends upon the self-emptying of the wheat grain.

In the church, everything is oriented and consummated by values that begin with charity and with realities that are destined to remain, even after this world passes away. Like Saint Lawrence, may we desire to be a sacrifice worthy of the Master so as to bring about the transformation of the world.

--Fr. Jerome Machar, OSCO

Self-Made Man? No Way!

You may recall the words spoken by the Prophet Micah that echo sentiments from Ezekiel: “He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8).

These words are hard to take, living in as society that stresses self-realization and self-assertion.

Only if we acknowledge ourselves as sinners in need of God’s mercy can we begin to live a life of mercy and humility in the presence of the Holy One who created us.

When we are reduced to our littleness can we find the freedom we need to think, to pray and to meditate. When I acknowledge that of myself, I am nothing, then I can allow God to be everything.

It is so tempting to identify ourselves with what we have accomplished and to forget that there is nothing we have that we have not received from the hand of God. I wonder if Saint Paul had this in mind when wrote the church in Corinth: “What makes you makes you superior to anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though it were not a gift?” (1 Cor. 4:7)

My brothers and sisters, we are not self-made!

God made us and empowered us to work for His greater glory. We have no reason to be cocky and self-sufficient. All we have, all we do that is good, has been made possible by the grace of God working in us.

God who is the same yesterday, today and forever will provide for our needs and merely asks us to depend on Him and not on ourselves. All we need to do is reach out our empty hands and find the breadth of life.

Jesus promised the apostles that when He returns at the end of time, He will make all things new.

Only those who are willing to forsake the old things will find entrance into the New and Heavenly Jerusalem.

May God give us faith to rest our hope on His promise. Embracing the Master who emptied himself of all glory to redeem us, may we be ready to become poor with the poor Christ. Hearing the voice of the Father may we be ready for every service and sacrifice. He will guide us as we journey home and shine His light on our path. Blessed be God who is ready to give everlasting life to the humble of heart.

--Father Jerome Macher, OSCO

The Worst That Can Happen Has Already Happened

 There is nothing like a little bad news in the media to make people start talking about the end of the world. When we read the Apostle Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians, we can only guess Paul’s times were not too different from ours.

We always think we are living in the worst of times and that the Lord must be planning to fix things by bringing the world to an end. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, guess what? They do!!!

And when they do, the trick is to keep our focus on God and His faithfulness to the covenant. It is by clinging steadfastly to faith in God that we will find shelter from the distressing times we live in. By remaining centered on the Word of God, we will find the guidance we need to run along the path of God’s commandments and discover that our hearts have been expanded with the unspeakable sweetness of love. Our security in times of adversity depends on the provident care of God who is in control of everything that happens to us.

Our faith tells us that the worst that can happen has already happened. God was impaled on a tree. The event was so outrageous that the sun refused to shine that day.

But the story does not end there. On the third day, Christ rose from the dead. Speaking to His disciples, Jesus said: “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

Through the paschal mystery we have peace with God and in Christ we find a peace that the world as we know it cannot give. Jesus gives us the reason for our confidence. “Take courage! I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mat. 28:20).

This means that the Lord is in charge, no matter who else says otherwise.

Only by holding fast to the Gospel, can we hope to find courage and strength when facing adversity. When the Lord returns in glory, may He bring us all into everlasting life.

--Fr. Jerome Macher, OSCO

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fools for Christ

Saint Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth: “We are fools on Christ’s account” (1 Cor. 4:10).

We who have been called to follow in the footsteps of Christ have no cause to be proud. All we have, all we are, all we do that is good and praiseworthy, is a gift of God’s grace. In a world that is self-asserting, we are called to be Christ-asserting. If we believe that all we have is gift, we cannot be other than Christ-asserting. In the eyes of image-builders, such talk is foolishness. Even though we are fools for Christ, if we follow the call of the Good Shepherd, we will be granted moments of light and insight.

In the late 70’s, a miniseries entitled Jesus of Nazareth was aired on prime-time television. As I was preparing these reflections, I recalled a scene from that series. Some of you may remember it: Jesus is inside Matthew’s house, telling the parable of the prodigal son. All the while, Peter is standing outside the open door, refusing to go. During the narration, Peter is granted a moment of light and insight: Jesus is the all-loving and all-forgiving Father, Matthew the prodigal and he (Peter) the older dutiful son. Overwhelmed by this insight, Peter enters the house and walks directly to the Lord. With tears streaming down his face, he slowly and deliberately declares: “Forgive me, Master. I’m just … a stupid man.” Recalling this moment, I am reminded that Jesus is the Savior of mankind and even though I am less than nothing in his sight, He loves me. In a success driven society, such talk is foolishness.

We may be fools, but God uses us to bring about the building up of His kingdom. Though cast off and rejected as worthless by power-driven secular society, we are precious to God. Though poor in the sight of the world, we are rich in grace because of Him who became poor for our sakes. As fools on account of Christ, we walk in conformity to His will and bear His cross with which we can overcome the world and contribute to the building up of the heavenly kingdom. As companions of the Lord of the Sabbath, we are called to celebrate God’s provident care for us. We need to listen to the voice of the creator of the Universe as He calls out to us: “My house is your house. Come right in! Come in and feast upon the Meal I have prepared for you.” Gathered around the Table of the Lord, may we lift up our hearts and offer Him praise, honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

--Father Jerome Machar, OSCO

Saturday, September 10, 2016

911--Fifteen Years -- 2001 -- 2016

Fifteen years ago, the world was shocked at the sight of planes flying into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Later, clouds of smoke billowed from the Pentagon and from a field in Shanksville, Pa. The reality of these attacks cut through our petty narcissism and opened our hearts to the needs of others. For a moment, we saw the true greatness that America stands for. As we recall the acts of terrorism, we must never forget the acts of valor and generosity they evoked. I am reminded of a line in Alan Jay Lerner’s musical Camelot, “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.”

Unfortunately, we have forgotten.

Once the dust cleared, we forgot about the needs of others and sought to make our personal worlds secure. We seem to have lost sight of the fact that the path to true peace requires each of us to lay or lives in the service of others. Despite the fact that we have built monuments to 9/11 we have not been able to build bridges of peace and brotherhood.

In this setting, the conversation between God and His Servant Moses is very instructive. Certainly, you recall how God pointed out to Moses that the people had forsaken Him and as a result He intended to wipe them out and start all over again. Seeing how corrupt the people had become in such a short time, God pronounced a verdict of total destruction. Standing in the breech, Moses speaks up. Forgive me for what I am about to do. “O Lord, you seem to have forgot that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.” Moses reminded God of His covenant with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Israel. If the Lord would be forgiving in this instance, He would see that there would be a faithful remnant.

Paul seems to have taken up this theme as he wrote to his co-worker Timothy. “I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life” (1 Tim. 1:16). The apostle knew well that had God not been merciful to him, he would have perished. God is not ignorant of the reality of sin. He also knows that love is stronger than hate; and that the Cross is the Tree of Life.

The Son of God who died on the cross has risen from the dead and reigns upon the throne of Glory. We must never let it be forgot that once there was a spot where the Lord of Life conquered death and brought us all into the kingdom of light and life. Recall these words written by the apostle John: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the Spirit who is in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4).

In the the Gospel of Luke, we have heard about God’s desire to seek out, to find, to welcome. The philosopher Maimonides seems to have understood the power of God’s mercy. He wrote: "let not a penitent man imagine that he is far from the Excellency, because of the sins he has committed, the thing is not so. Rather, he is beloved and desired before the Creator, as if he had never sinned; for his reward is great; for lo, he has tasted the taste of sin, and hath separated from it.”

We must never let it be forgot, that the Gospel presents mercy as an excess of God’s love for a fallen and broken world. The mercy of God expands our souls. It makes us think of that spot that was Camelot, for us. God, in His mercy, draws us to himself, purifies us of our sins and then sends us forth to bring mercy to all.

Because we have received mercy upon mercy, we can seek to pour out our lives in service to others and as agents of peace and reconciliation. Our ability to live as Children of the Kingdom springs from the fact that we are at one and the same time sinners pardoned and sinners restored to dignity. The mercy of God brings knowledge and compassion. The one who shows us mercy conforms us to the image of His Beloved Son. As we receive the mercy of the Loving Father, we are empowered to share it with others.

For a moment, the events September 11, 2001, brought us into contact with our own fragility and vulnerability. For a moment we remembered that we needed one another.

 The scriptures remind us that we are the objects of God’s delight. “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Gen. 1: 31). The reason we believe in a kind and merciful God is because Jesus not only told us, but acted mercifully. Like the God who repeatedly forgave the erring Israelites, Jesus always acted mercifully towards those who came to him. We are invited to embrace the truth that we are Beloved of God and cause of His joy.

When we return to the Father and repent, do we get what we deserve? No. When we return to the Father, we get what He offers us --- Forgiveness. My brothers and sisters, don’t let it be forgot that once there was a spot… that was known as Calvary.

--Father Jerome Machar, OSCO