God Surprises Us
Posted 25 May 2012 Posted by Father John Francis Murray, C.Ss.R.
Tags: god, mary, sacred heart catholic
As some of you know, just recently I traveled up to New York to celebrate my aunt’s funeral. The first leg of my flight was from Daytona Beach to Atlanta at 6:00 am on a Tuesday morning. As you can imagine, being a bit tired I looked forward to catching a few winks before the plane landed. As I closed my eyes I heard a woman behind me talking non-stop to a young man sitting beside her. Not once during the flight did I hear the young man’s voice! What a saint I thought, while at the same time I thanked God for where I sat.
On the way back, on my flight from New York to Charlotte I was quite tired, and again looking forward to getting some rest. It’s true; God surprises us with his sense of humor! A woman sat next to me and asked, “Are you a Catholic priest?” “Yes” I replied, and then it began. She just moved to Manhattan, but more importantly, she just returned from a conference at Notre Dame University in Indiana. She is a devout Catholic and the conference was on the subject of Marian apparitions. We talked about everything Catholic under the sun, and before we knew it, we were landing in Charlotte. I don’t remember yawning once!
Among many interesting topics discussed, the woman shared something that I feel is especially appropriate for the culture in which we live. She told me her niece attended the conference, but she didn’t understand some of Our Blessed Mother’s words. The young college student didn’t understand what Mary meant by “fasting” or why our Blessed Mother recommended going to confession every month.
This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost Sunday. Today we remember and celebrate the gift of the Spirit.The words from St. Paul to the Galatians in today’s second reading can sound “too hard” to hear, or “too difficult” to put into practice, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.”
What does St. Paul mean, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires!” On my first flight from Daytona Beach to Atlanta, my attention was focused only on myself, not on the person next to me. My only “desire” was falling asleep. The words “crucified their flesh” in practical terms can simply mean, instead of falling asleep, I could have stayed awake. What if the person sitting next to me was traveling to a funeral with a heavy heart like me, who knows? Maybe the young man on my first flight sitting behind me also wanted to fall asleep, but he didn’t! He stayed awake and listened.
We all have passions and desires, that’s because we’re human. That’s why Mary our Mother asks us to “fast” and to go to confession regularly, to control our passions and desires. That’s what the expression, “dying to ourselves” means, we die to the desire inside that says, “I’m going to be lazy or self-centered.” Instead, we become sensitive to those around us and we open ourselves to the Spirit, and the presence of the Spirit becomes real to all those we meet. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit!”
Happy Pentecost Sunday, God bless you!
Father John Francis Murray, C.Ss.R.