In both the Old and New Testament God often reveals himself as a God of compassion. In today’s gospel Jesus promises refreshment and rest to all who are struggling with the burdens of life. He has taken upon himself our sufferings and burdens, nailing them to the cross and offering us the hope of victory in resurrection. “Cast your care upon the Lord, who will give you support.” (Psalm 55:23) Through the Prophet Zechariah he promises “peace to the nations.” (First Reading) Today’s psalm speaks of how God “lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” Finally, Saint Paul promises life to all who live in the Spirit. (Second Reading)
Don’t these readings summarize everything we need right now? Life has become so burdensome for many because of the covid pandemic: social isolation, job loss, fear of contagion, food shortages in some parts of the country with long lines for food pantries. Some of those experiences have not been as great in our area, but the social isolation and job loss have affected us the most. People in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have suffered from social isolation the most, where many are confined to their rooms and are not allowed visits from family and friends. Of course, the inability to participate in the Mass in person has also been difficult for so many faithful Catholics for whom the Mass and the sacraments are integral to their faith life. Fortunately things are opening up some now. Since we have been able to offer public Masses on weekends, so many have remarked how good it is to be back, how watching Mass on television or online is just not the same, how good it is to have some music, and so on. I can assure you that Father Hokamp and I are happy to celebrate Mass with those coming as well. We are pleased with the way our weekend Masses are going, and are grateful for the ushers and liturgical ministers who are making this possible, as well as our maintenance people who are doing the cleaning. Thank you all. I know it will take some time before we are back at full strength, but the virus has not killed the faith. If there is anything Father Hokamp or I can do for those not yet able to return to church, just give us a call.
God is strong while we are weak. The person of genuine faith, like the martyrs, both experiences and manifests the fact that “in our weakness [God] perfects [his] power.” (Preface I of Holy Martyrs) Let us not be afraid to turn to the Lord, to take up the yoke which he carries for us, to share the burdens of others by prayer and charity, and to learn from him the mysteries of the kingdom. (Gospel Acclamation)
Thanks to some generous benefactors, both parishes reached their targets for the Diocesan Annual Appeal. We went right down to the wire. Whew!
This week I am beginning my annual vacation at the home farm. I have some hay to make and hope to scout out some oats with the hope of being able to have a threshing event again this year. I will be back on the weekends. In the meantime I leave you in the care of Father Hokamp. No longer our diocese’s youngest priest, he will celebrate his 27th birthday next Saturday, July 11. Happy birthday, Father Hokamp!
Pray the rosary this week for our country as we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, because there is so much fear, unrest, suspicion and animosity. The hearts of many need to change. Again I offer you the words of Psalm 55:23: “Cast your care upon the Lord, who will give you support.”
May God bless his people with peace.