From the desk of Fr Stephen
When I was in high school, I entered a swimming race. It was a 50-yard race and so not too far. I was leading the race and was just five yards or so from the finish when I swallowed some water. The water filled my lungs, and in a panic, I stopped swimming to catch my breath. Of course, when I did this, everyone else in the race passed me up, and I ended up losing. It is amazing how human beings are made to breathe the fresh air above the water and not below it. We do not have gills like a fish, so we need fresh air in our lungs and not water for us to survive.
I use this example today because, in our Spiritual Lives, the fresh air for us to breathe is the Lord Jesus Christ. We can only survive as Spiritual Beings with the breath of Christ pulsing through our veins. The world, and all it holds, is like water in our lungs. We are not a fish taking in water. The only thing that can satisfy us is the Breath of Christ.
Today the gospel reminds us to breathe God in our daily lives. Jesus is asked, “Which commandment is the greatest?” The Jews had 613 laws that were to be strictly followed. Which of these was the greatest? Jesus simplifies it for us by saying there are only two commandments that need to be followed: love of God and neighbor. If we breathe in the breath of Christ every day, we can breathe life into another with love. Through our love of God and neighbor, we can pass on this breath of Christ to one another; this is what we are called to do as Christians.
This Sunday, we want to celebrate the elders in our parish; this is an important part of our African heritage tradition. Elders have always been held up with great praise because they have passed on the Breath of Christ to us; this should really be celebrated today. Recently I was asked to give a short talk on Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange. Her cause for canonization is now under review. I knew nothing about her, and so I had to do some research. It turns out she was from the Caribbean and came to America as a young woman. As a young woman, she began educating other young refugees seeking a better life. She founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence, and for the rest of her life, she passed on the Catholic faith to people of African descent. She helped in founding the first school designed to educate young black children, and this work continues today. We want to remember her and all our elders today who have passed on their faith.
This coming Wednesday, we invite you to be part of a virtual prayer service for healing in our country affected by the pandemic, but also for the end of racism. This prayer service is Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Zoom. I hope you can join us.