Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Question:  In our Lord’s own words why has he come? So many possible good answers, but I have just one answer in mind right now.  It’s from John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that you might have abundant life.”  Is that possible now?  Is that abundant life possible now?  Right now? Or do we have to wait until we die?  We don’t have to wait; abundant life is possible now, our Lord says, “He who believes in me has eternal life.”  Present tense “has.”  And that eternal life is abundant life.  What does this look like?  What does this abundant life look like?  I have a couple of stories.

First, I have a friend by the name of Sr. Maria Francisco, a Dominican Sister of Mary Mother of the Eucharist.  She is my prayer sister.  I pray for her she prays for me.  I’ve known her for 7 years now.  I knew her before she entered the convent.  Back then she was an engineer with Eaton, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, she had her pilots license.  She’s the flying nun now. ☺  She had it all, money, success, career, and a great future.  She is a very talented young woman.  But she gave it all up to make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, an absurd choice in today’s world.  In a letter she once wrote to me she said this:

“I’m doing really well.  I’ve never been happier.  Canonical year was such a blessing.  It was a year dedicated to building up a strong prayer life and the study of the vows and our Rule and Constitutions.  This whole year I’ve realized how God is truly an intimate friend, a friend in the true sense of the word, a friend who wants me to share His life and share mine.  In our studies I learned a lot about the vows and I think my favorite one is obedience.  I learned that in serving someone you already love, you deepen that love.  All of the vows are a means towards this end:  perfect love of God and neighbor.  It is love that makes them easy.”

Sister’s face, whenever I see her, is always beaming with a grin.  It just lights up, I can imagine Jesus’ face looked the same at the Transfiguration.  This is abundant life, to look at her is to know she has abundant life, to look at her is to be provoked, to be provoked that God can be known, and that God wants to be known.  Sister Maria Francisco knows our Lord.  This is abundant life.

Second story, David died a few years ago and this was after battling cancer for two years.  It was a tough fight but it was fight he didn’t do alone.   He had the support of his wife, children, their spouses, and his grandchildren.  And it was during those two years that his faith just really deepened.  He studied, he read the Bible, he received the sacraments more often, he prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and he really concentrated at Mass.  And as the cancer progressed his peace of mind and trust in God increased.  The worse the cancer got, the more he trusted.  Towards the end he was confined to a bed at home.  I was able to go and celebrate Mass at the foot of his bed with his whole family there.  He died the next day surrounded by his wife and kids; they sang hymns to him from the missalettes they’d taken from church.    They sang to him all his favorite hymns over and over.  That room was filled with the grace of God and to look at David is to be provoked, to be provoked that God can be known, and that God wants to be known.  David knows our Lord.  This is abundant life.  Even as he neared heath he had abundant life.

God wants a deep relationship with you.  He’s not interested in us just checking off the box, went to Mass, I’m done.  He wants that of course, He wants us at Mass every Sunday, but he also wants something much more.  He wants a relationship; he wants a deep and abiding relationship. He wants to be an intimate friend.   Fullness of life, abundance of life is a relationship, a relationship with the one who is life, the one who is love, the one who can never die.  God wants to be your intimate friend.

If I know Him I have life, if I don’t I’m just existing.  What to do with this?  To be in the presence of God is to know Him.  And He is nowhere like He’s here hidden under the appearance of bread. He is the Bread of Life, the bread of abundant life. And so we come and spend time with Him, whatever is happening is in His hands, He has a plan, He knows what He is about, and He will bring it to fulfillment.  Spend time with Him, Him who alone can give an abundance of life, and see what a difference it can make.

Let us be great Saints,

Fr. Christopher Ankley