Stonewood, West Virginia

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Weekly Gospel Meditation

Connect! Sunday Reflection

New Grace from God

September 9, 2019  •   Br. John-Marmion Villa

For Sunday, September 15, 2019
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

New Grace from God

Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Luke 15:1-32

When I was a senior in high school, my family took an international vacation, but I slept through my 3 a.m. alarm on the day of departure. When I finally awoke, there was a frenzied panic as I tried to troubleshoot as many possible options to get me to the airport two hours away to meet my family on time for the flight. Hope was slim, but it was there after a few hours of looking through phone books (remember those?) to find an available shuttle ride. But even as I stepped onto the shuttle, I wasn’t sure that this plan was going to work out. My panic increased because now I was at the mercy of time. There was nothing else that I could do but to see how things would play out.

We’ve all had moments like this in our lives, moments when our throat sinks into our belly, and paralyzing apprehension takes over. It happens to us when we realize that we didn’t show up for that scheduled appointment, when we forgot to pick up our son from school, when we left that report at home, or when we lock our keys in the car. It’s a realization that we lost something of significance, and there’s going to be a consequence following. We go into a panic mode of sorts, often acting uncharacteristically or erratically, like we’re kinda going crazy!

Maybe this feeling is what the shepherd, woman, and Prodigal Son felt. What they had lost was of utmost value to them, and there was a heightened awareness of the aftermath if their lost item was not found. A desperate search ensues.

I remember sitting in that shuttle utterly disappointed that I didn’t wake up in time and ashamed that I had put myself through those panicked few hours. I was terrified of missing my flight and afraid of my family’s reaction were I to miss our vacation abroad. The interior dialogue was deafening during that two-hour ride to the airport. Things didn’t get any better when I arrived. Everything heightened as I had to check my luggage and go through security. “What if something else goes wrong?”

In our Gospel text, the word rejoice (and its derivative, joy) appears five times. But note where in the context of the stories it appears … after a period of turmoil. In other words, joy always follows the anguish. I like what Jean Vanier had to say about this: “Tensions or difficulty can signal the approach of a new grace of God.” This new grace can come to us in many and varied ways, but so often, our hearts are not ready to receive that new grace, and the opportunity slips by unnoticed.

I did get to the airport just in the nick of time, and my family was waiting for me at the gate. I was still a little anxious as I waited with them to board the plane. It was only when I took my seat and my father, seated next to me, said, “I’m glad you’re here” that a sudden flood of relief and joy came into my heart.

Today, this very familiar Gospel passage speaks to me of joy, and it poses a few very simple questions: “Do I really encounter it?” “What am I willing to endure in order to experience it more deeply?” And “How do I foster joy in others?”

Br. John-Marmion Villa, BSC

 

Prayer

Lord,
I feel as though I am losing my grip and can barely hang on a moment longer.
In desperation, I reach my hand to you, God.
Grab me! Pull me out of this mess! Hear my earnest prayer!
I give my life to you today, every bit of it.
I’m yours. Help me. Be my God.
No longer will I build my life on shifting sand.
You are my rock, and with your help, I will establish my life on your firm foundation.
Deliver me from this pit, and I will praise you.
I will tell of your great wonders.
I will make known your wonderful ways, steadfast love, and unending power.
Thank you!
I know you hear me and that you save the humble and contrite of heart.
Forgive me for my decisions, actions, and attitudes that got me to this place.
I receive your forgiveness and power to change.
And as I am forgiven, I forgive each person that has contributed to my temporary defeat, for my victory is at hand.
You are here.
Amen.
— A Prayer of Desperation


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USCCB Poll: Americans Support Conscience Protection for Healthcare Professionals

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two new polls have revealed widespread discrimination against healthcare workers of faith, as well as broad public support for conscience rights laws and protections. The findings were released today by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committees on Pro-Life Activities; Religious Liberty; Domestic and Social Development; and the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, as well as the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), the largest faith-based association for healthcare professionals.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. —Administration officials will reportedly recommend to President Trump that the number of refugee admissions for the coming year will be fewer than 30,000 refugees, already an historic low. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chair of USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Further reductions in the number of refugees allowed to seek freedom in the United States would be wholly counter to our values as a nation of immigrants. America welcomes refugees; that is who we are, that is what we do. Such reductions would undermine America’s leadership role as a global champion and protector of religious freedom and human rights. Beginning with European refugees in the aftermath of World War I, the Catholic Church in the United States has more than a century of experience resettling vulnerable populations to a safer life and one in which they have contributed to the greatness of America. The 3.4 million refugees that America has welcomed since 1975 have paid billions of dollars in taxes, founded companies, earned citizenship, and bought homes at notably high rates.

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U.S. Bishops’ Vice-President Leads Delegation to the Holy See to Present V Encuentro Proceedings and Conclusions to Pope Francis

WASHINGTON— Archbishop José H. Gomez, of Los Angeles, and Vice-President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); Bishop Nelson J. Pérez, of Cleveland, chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, and Bishop Arturo Cepeda, of Detroit, chairman of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs will lead a delegation that will visit the Holy See, September 13-18, to present to Pope Francis the Proceedings and Conclusions of the Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry.

Delegates accompanying the Bishops include USCCB staff, members of the National V Encuentro Team and a cross-section of V Encuentro delegates representing a diversity of ages, geographical areas, ministries and states in life. The delegation is scheduled to meet with the leadership and staff of various Vatican offices, including the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life; the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. The visit will conclude with an audience and encounter with the Holy Father.

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