FAMILY NOTES, XVI Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 18, 2021
Dear friends, peace in Jesus!
May I ask you a question? I have asked it with pastoral concern of folks in the midst of tragedy and sorrow. It is the question. Here it is. Do you believe? I’d guess that you will have answered in the affirmative, right? So let me be more bold. How far? How far can you go, or will you go in trusting God? You know of course, or at least you may feel, that He has a plan for you. That’s true. He does. The plan is Christ.
In Ephesians 1:10 Paul teaches that God our Father “sums up” or “gathers together” all things in Christ. Everything is under Christ’s “headship” and the Father has given Jesus to us as the Head of His Church. And that’s not all.
Here’s the great point of God’s plan: you are chosen. By God. Here is the wonderful text: “In him (Christ) we were also chosen, destined according to the purpose of the One (the Father) who accomplishes all things so that we might exist for the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:11). There is another way of putting all this. Recently at Mass we heard this amazing translation of a statement from Paul, “The love of Christ holds us in its grip” (II Corinthians 4:14). So the plan the great dream of God our Father is to gather us all into Our Lord Jesus and that embrace of Jesus’ love will hold us so tight that no one or nothing can take us out of his hand. Jesus actually says this in John 10:28. “My sheep follow me. I give them eternal lifeF No one can take them out of my hand.”
So let’s return to my question. Do I believe? Do you? And how far will I trust God? This is the essential question when we face death. And this issue of death, seldom faced in our culture, is central to Catholicism as day in and day out we pray in the Hail Mary about “the hour of our death.”
Recently I helped a dear friend to die. She had “faith to move mountains” and love for others to match that trust in God. (See I Corinthians 3:2) So I was blessed to help her to do what I did myself twice when I faced dire cancer diagnoses. I invited her to say the words of Jesus to His Father as He died on the Cross and of Saint Stephen to Jesus himself when he was being killed for Christ. (See Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59). Trust me, doing this exercise of prayer with Jesus, with deep honesty, is the source of “peace beyond all human understanding.” Come, let us step out in faith. Right now. My friend did. In a bare whisper she spoke to her Savior, “Jesus, into Your hands I commend my spirit” (Psalm 31:6). A few hours later He took her at her word. As we Catholics say, it was “a happy death.” We are destined for heaven too! WOW!
COME TO JESUS
Let me give you a last and lovely thought. On one of my last visits with my friend we made the choice of readings for her Mass. Her very first gives us Our Lord’s advice about putting ourselves into His hands. Jesus Christ says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Friends, since Jesus’ love holds us tight let us every day say to Him, “Into Your hands O Lord, I commend my spirit.” God bless! JFH
GRAND ANNUAL SUCCESS!
It is a joy to tell you all of the overwhelming success of our Grand Annual Collection this year. You, the faithful and generous parishioners of Holy Family, gave $185,254!! That’s 115.7% of our goal of $160,000. Please know how grateful I am to all of you who made this happen. I shall offer you a financial report for 2020/2021 in the near future. But, for now—Let us praise Our Lord! Thanks so very much. JFH