“So I was afraid…”

The Gospel reading at the Mass this morning was from Matthew 25:14–30, “The Parable of the Talents.” It is one of the better known parables our Lord told. Matthew positions it between the parable of the ten bridesmaids and the judgment of the nations. I won’t reiterate it here, but I encourage you to take time to read it.

As you may remember there is a man who goes on a trip and he entrusts his property to three slaves: to one ten talents, to another five, and to a third one talent. The slave with one talent, we are told, “went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money” (Matthew 25:18 NRSV).

When the master returns, he asks all the slaves to give an account, and the man with the one talent replies, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours” (Matthew 25:24–25 NRSV). The master was not at all pleased with the slave and had him thrown “into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30 NRSV).

Fr. Tim highlighted one part of the parable to speak on in his homily, which I have highlighted above. “So I was afraid…” and I basically did nothing with what you gave me. How often do we not take action out of fear? We might be afraid to take a stand for Jesus, His kingdom and His Church. We might be afraid to say “no” in the face of peer pressure or temptation because we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves. We may be afraid to use our talents or gifts to serve the Church and others because we diminish the gift we have been given.

Back on April 14, I confessed that fear to my confessor. I wrote about it in one of my earlier blogs. It took me almost four months to obey the impression I had from our Lord and the direct word from my priest to start blogging. This morning’s word from Fr. Tim was another confirmation that I cannot live in my little “monastic cell” and let everything go on around me. There is great joy in obedience! There is a whole lot to lose in disobedience. I will not be afraid!

Keep It Local

One of the bloggers I follow faithfully is Fr. Dwight Longenecker, parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. Yesterday I read his blog called “The Sex Abuse Crisis: Get Real.” It’s worth reading. I want to make reference to his final point that applies to my blogging as the crisis in the Church deepens and sides are taken.

“I’m not saying, ‘Well now that we’ve all had a big family shouting match, let’s just go home and get on with life as it has always been now and forever Amen.’ I’m not advocating passivity. If your vocation and calling is to keep pushing for reform in the church and holding bishops, cardinals and the pope accountable please go for it, and may God bless you in battle.

However, if that is not your calling, roll up your sleeves, get on your knees and do what you can with what you have where you are.”

Reality is always local. Get real.

There are many people who already have a “dog in the fight” and can and will do a much better job at bringing attention to the present state of things. Before I go any further, let me share with you some of those whom I follow that help keep me informed and aware of how I should pray.

So for the time being I am going to take Fr. Dwight’s advice. Why? Because I don’t think reform is possible? Not at all! What I do know is that for now I will leave the public fight to those who are better equipped to handle it. For now, I will roll up my sleeves, get on my knees, and do what I can with what I have where I am.

I will continue to blog, but I will try to focus, as much as I can on what you and I are called to do where we are. No doubt one of the most important things we can do is pray.

I leave you today with a beautiful and powerful prayer from John-Paul and Annie Deddens of Pray More Novenas:

Prayer for Honesty, Purity and Forthrightness in the Lives of the Clergy

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Father in Heaven, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Holy Spirit, comfort us, give us clarity, and bring light to this darkness and evil.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

  • St. Charles Lwanga and St. Monica, pray for the abused, the survivors and for justice.
  • St. Peter, pray for the Church, that it may be rebuilt, healed, and made holy.
  • St. Catherine of Siena, pray for reform and restoration of the clergy.
  • St. John Vianney, pray for the holiness of priests and bishops.
  • St. Benedict, pray that this evil be cast out of the Church.
  • St. Anthony, pray for us to find the way forward.
  • St. Paul, pray for the bishops that they may be fearless in confronting other bishops.
  • St. Augustine, pray for true repentance and transparency.
  • St. Dymphna, pray for consolation for the heartache, depression and anxiety this evil has caused.
  • Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Let’s pray for our Church and for each other! Amen.

“Lord, if it is you, command me…”

Today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew (14:22-36) relates the story of Jesus walking on the sea toward his disciples who are cowering in the boat. They are terrified because they think he is a ghost. He speaks to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” And then we have Peter’s response, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus says, “Come.”

From there we usually get caught up on the details of Peter getting out of boat (at least he got out of the boat!) and then walking toward Jesus (he was walking on the water!), but then he sees how strong the wind was and he gets frightened and begins to sink.

I would like to go back to something that happened in the interchange between Jesus and the disciples, especially Peter. Jesus said, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter said, “Lord, if it is you…” Lord, if it is you!

I can truly relate to how Peter began his response to the Lord: “If it is you…” Jesus had already identified himself. Peter even calls him Lord, and yet there is that hesitation in his spirit. So often, I have sensed in my spirit that I am do so something, in fact, very strongly. I receive that impression and then I wait. I mull it over. I even pray and say, “Lord, I want to do your will, but what is it you want me to do?” No doubt, you have experienced something similar.

I mentioned a few days ago that I sensed strongly that I was to pick up this blog again after about 15 months of not writing. I kept hesitating. I even mentioned once to my confessor that I felt impressed to write, but didn’t because of fear that what I had to say might not be well received. He heard me and told me that he believed that God had given me an “apostolate” (a call) to share my faith through writing) and yet I put it off. I was doing the same thing as Peter, “Lord, if it is you…call me back to the blog.”

Now, I would be the first to say that there are many other blogs out there doing fine work of sharing the faith, but that is not the point. Our Lord was calling me to respond, and it is time to get out of the safety of the boat.

“Lord, save me!”