Fr. J.J.’s Jottings

Listen, Give, Care
As political candidates continue to debate over issues, and we respond to them, it is clear that fewer and fewer citizens embrace the values and faith of Christianity. Surveys substantiate that more and more young people are disenchanted with the belief system that we and their parents hold. Being a Catholic in our time is challenging.

Our Lord was on a mission to mend our broken and fractured lives. We as His disciples are called to the same purpose (bring hope to the forgotten, light to the lost, and love to the abandoned). Now more than ever we need to share freely the Good News of Christ with those with whom we work, neighbors with whom we share our community, and loved ones with whom we share a family.

I am not suggesting that we become pushy Christians who engage people in debates about the validity of the Christian faith (that rarely, if ever, wins anyone over). When we do this, we fail to communicate the compelling joy that comes to one who follows Jesus Christ. 

In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he wrote “to those outside the law I became as one outside the law . . . to the weak, I became weak, so that I might win the weak.” In other words, instead of simply  forcing people to commit to a higher standard, he met them at their level and befriended them (ultimately what Christ did).

 For us to do this, I believe we need to be the presence of Christ before we speak the word of Christ. Our Lord’s example was one of  action followed by words. We often freely give our opinions about many things before we know the people with whom we are sharing our opinions. Like Corinth of old, we live in a diverse, multifaceted culture with varying value systems. My pastoral experience tells me that most people simply want to be valued, respected, and loved unconditionally. We can and should do that freely in the spirit of Christ.

Second, we must listen. Listen to the struggle of others. As His disciples, we must first sit, listen, and deeply care about the challenge that the person is experiencing. So many folks carry guilt, feelings of abandonment, loneliness, or are experiencing failing health and broken relationships. They crave a listening ear.

Finally, we must share the love of God. How exactly? That depends on the gifts you have been blessed with. We have been given different talents to connect with different kinds of folks with different kinds of struggles. Jesus utilizes varying methods to connect with us. We must do the same with others.

We live in a time that is anything but boring. Our task is to reach out to others, freely give of ourselves to others in Christ’s name, and to be the presence of Christ. Let’s listen more, and talk less. Care with a compassion that gives freely of the gifts God has given us. Be the  presence of Christ to others.

Speaking of That…
St. Anastasia is offering a five week series (in conjunction with St. John Hospital) about the experience of grief and loss. “Healing the Heart” will provide education, support, and understanding of what we may experience as we grieve the death of a loved one. We will learn how to cope and begin to heal in a group setting. You would benefit by attending all the sessions, since each week builds upon the previous week’s session. They are every Wednesday beginning on March 7th. Please call Kim at 248-689-8380, Ext. 112 to register.

I’m Outta Here…
As priests, we are canonically bound to go on an annual retreat. I  begin mine Sunday afternoon. I will return by Friday. Please pray for me. You are in the capable hands of Fr. Eric and Fr. Varghese. I’ll pray for you, too!

God bless,
Fr. J.J.