Zech 12:10-11;13:1 Gal 3:26-29 Lk 9:18-24
President George W. Bush decided one day that ‘it is time to do some public relations at a local Washington DC nursing home’. The President began his “tour” down the main hallway and passed by a little old man who didn’t seem to notice him. Sensing this, President Bush backtracked to the resident and asked, “Do you know who I am?” The little old man looked up from his walker and said, “No, but if you go to the front desk, they will tell you your name.”
A boy said to a girl on the first day of the school: Isn’t the principal a dummy?! GIRL: Say, do you know who I am? BOY: No. GIRL: I’m the principal’s daughter. BOY: And do you know who I am? GIRL: No. BOY: Thank goodness!
Dear friends! In today’s Gospel, when Jesus asked his apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” it wasn’t because he didn’t know himself who he was. He knew who he was…In today’s gospel he was trying to find out if the disciples were beginning to discover who he was, if they were beginning to understand some of the things he had been trying to teach them. From the way Peter answered, it showed he was learning, but he was just at the beginning stage. So Jesus strongly insisted them not to tell anyone. Because he knew, they had much to learn before they could start teaching others.
Then Jesus added another thought. He told them the qualities required of His followers. The renunciation and taking up of the cross every day. The cross is a one-way ticket to heaven. The fee is costly because it requires an everyday carrying of the cross. He knew that those who would follow him would sometimes have to risk their lives in order to be his follower. That is still true today – A top Vatican official on May 29th has released a “shocking” report to the U.N. estimating that over 100,000 Christians are killed every year for reasons relating to their faith”
Fortunately that doesn’t happen in our country at this time in history. The greatest suffering or sacrifice most of us have to deal with as followers of Christ is to keep the Commandments and to give up one hour a week to go to Mass – many find even that too hard. What would we do if we were threatened with arrest or confiscation of our property, or even death because we are Christians or Catholics? That’s scary and none of us like to think of such things.
Although there is a greater or lesser amount of sacrifice involved in following Jesus, we are guaranteed by Jesus’ own words, by his resurrection, and by his gift of himself to us daily or weekly in the Eucharist that he is our savior, that he will not abandon us if we do not abandon him, and that the blessings he has prepared for us far outweigh any sacrifices we have to make in order to remain faithful to him.
In our first reading today we heard: “Thus says the Lord: I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition” (Zec 12:10). The Prophet Zechariah tells us that prayer itself is a gift from God; that the Lord will grant to his people “a spirit of grace and petition.” For even our desire to pray, our ability to raise our hearts and minds to God, is itself a gift from Him.
Today we exercise that divine gift by continuing our prayers for religious freedom. The U.S. Bishops have declared a Fortnight for Freedom, asking Catholics to engage in a “great hymn of prayer for our country” and a “national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.” Fittingly, this period of special petition will last until July 4, the day we celebrate as a nation all our liberties.
Let these days of the Fortnight of Freedom be a time of intense and focused prayer, asking the Lord for protection of conscience and religious liberty.
I request you also to pray for our school. We have only 20 children registered Pre-K to 6th grade. It’s a sad situation. Parents have the right to decide whatever is best for their children. But their decision puts me and the parish community in a dilemma. I had a few meetings already but still do not know which direction to take. Make sure to include this one in your personal prayer that right decision may be taken which safeguards the best interest of the children and of our parish community.