For Your Love and Fidelity

(June 28, 2009)

Bottom line: For your love and fidelity, I say, "Thank you."

This is my last Sunday at Holy Family - and I want say a word of thanks. About ten days ago, at the "Appreciation Dinner," I expressed my gratitude to those who participate in ministries. Today I want to say a broader - and perhaps deeper - word of thanks. Many people have given me gifts - without realizing how great those gifts are.

I want, first of all, to thank those who "showed up." Some of you came to Mass, Sunday after Sunday, in spite of fatigue, even depression. Perhaps you experienced looks - perhaps also words - when your others found out where you were going. I don't take anyone's attendance at Mass for granted. Nor do I take for granted anyone's financial contribution. Some have overwhelmed me, humbled me, with their generosity. But every donation has been a free gift.

Many have given me a glimpse of your soul, of the trials God has asked you to bear. I try to say some word of encouragement, but often I ask myself: If I had such bitter trials, would faith be easy for me? I thank you for not giving up, for not despairing, for not abandoning God and his Church.

I have a particular word of thanks to parents who opened themselves to the gift of life. Even though envious people criticized you, you received your son or daughter as God's most precious present. And your child is a gift to me. I sometimes feel like a lucky grandfather. I get the joy of children with little of the messy work. Thank you for your children - and here at Holy Family, we have lots of them. We are not the biggest parish, but we are the champion of baptisms: around five hundred a year. Regarding children, I agree with Blessed Mother Theresa: "How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers." They motivate us to pray - and work - for a better world, a better community, a better parish.

At the same time I thank parents, I want to say a word to childless couples. Some of you have shared with me your deep, constant anguish. But you did not fall into the temptation of using a procedure that goes against the meaning of marriage. I thank you for your fidelity.

I could go on, but I want to add only one more group: young people who have kept their faith - or returned to it - in spite of a hostile culture, full of all kinds of allurements away from the faith. You overcame inertia. You climbed a hill. You planted a flag. Others, I am confident, will follow you. Pope John Paul prophesied a new springtime: you are the first buds - the first blooms - on the tree.

Today's Scripture readings warn about the power of evil, but they also speak about a greater power. Evil can twist the beauty of God's creation, but Jesus promises the triumph of goodness. We hear of a woman who endured a humiliating condition, but in an instant it seems like nothing compared with the joy of touching the hem of Jesus' garment. And we hear about an unbearable tragedy - the death of a young child. But Jesus turns anguish into astonishment.

I ask you young people to never lose your faith in Jesus. I ask those who have born the heat of the day to not give up now. We may have to face new trials. With Jesus we can endure. With Jesus we can revive. With Jesus we can triumph. In an instant Jesus can lift any burden - and replace it with astonishment and joy. May God bless you all. For your love and fidelity, I say, "Thank you."

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General Intercessions for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B (from Priests for Life)

Spanish Version

From the Archives:

Thirteenth Sunday, Year B, 2012: Excel in Every Respect
2009: For Your Love and Fidelity
2006: When God Seems Distant
2000: Appreciating the Ordinary

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