By Catholic Labor Network Spiritual Moderator Fr. Sinclair Oubre
Back in 2001, I was reassigned from my position as a tribunal judge to a parish pastor. To put it mildly, I was not excited about getting back to being pulled in numerous directions, and trying to shoehorn a full pastoral program into a pastor-plus-part-time-secretary budget.
Over the first three weeks, after the morning Mass, I would sit before the large crucifix in the main church, and explain to Jesus on the cross how much my life sucked.
This would go on for about ten minutes, and Jesus would just hang there and listen to me complain, and in the silence my conscience would finally prod me with the truth, “Well, my day is not going to be as bad as your day was!”
Three weeks passed before Jesus convinced me that no matter how bad my days as pastor may be, they would never be so bad as his day. At that point, I just turned my attention to doing the best I could with this small and wonderful parish community.
In the end, I came to understand that things go so much better when I “embraced the cross of Jesus.”
As we approach the most sacred feast of the entire Catholic liturgical year, I invite you to also do some “embracing.”
Go to your parish church for the Feast of the Lord’s Supper this Thursday, and embrace the Eucharist, the real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ under the form of bread and wine.
As St. Charles de Foucauld said so well, “You are there, my Lord Jesus, in the Holy Eucharist. You are there but a few feet from me . . . Your body, you soul, you humanity, your divinity, your entire being is there in its double nature! How close you are, God!”
Go to your parish church for Good Friday services. Embrace the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Journey with him from the Garden of Gethsemane to the tomb at Mount Calvary. Stand with Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary of Magdala, and John the Evangelist, and embrace what love Jesus poured out on our behalf.
Go to your parish church for the Easter Vigil, and embrace the light of the Easter fire, the mystery of the empty tomb, and the voice of the angel announcing that our Lord Jesus Christ is risen.
Also, embrace the newest members of your parish. Embrace with joy those who have been born again in Christ through baptism. Embrace those who have made a profession of faith in the Church that Jesus founded, and embrace those who have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Embrace them as brothers and sisters, and through that embrace, assure them that you will walk with them as intentional disciples of Jesus Christ.