BY FATHER TIM JOHNSON - ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC CHURCH OF MILFORD
"Autumn … the year's last loviest smile."
William Cullen Bryant reminds us of this brief interlude between summer and the chill of winter; a season when we simply need to pause and witness the beauty taking place at any given moment, and hopefully longer. To linger within the evolving gift of God's creation, believing in His omnipotence within the regularity of the seasons, even in the midst of the divisions we witness in our country and abroad.
As we take in the grace within these precious few autumn days, and strive to understand and protect the dignity of all human life during this Respect Life Month. With little else to say, I leave you with a brief "reflection" for your personal use.
Prayer — Lord Jesus Christ, you are the sun that always rises but never sets. You are the source of all life, creating and sustaining every living thing. You are the source of all food, material and spiritual, nourishing us in both body and soul. You are the light that dispels the clouds of err and doubt, and goes before me every hour of the day, guiding my thoughts and my actions. May I walk in your light, be nourished by your food, be sustained by your mercy, and be warmed by your love. Amen.
Scripture Passage (Matthew 9:9-13) — As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Reflection — In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi tells how in his student days in South Africa he was drawn to Jesus. One Sunday, Gandhi writes, he went to a Christian church. He was stopped at the entrance and told that if he desired to attend services, he was welcome to do so in a church reserved for black people. Gandhi did not pursue the matter further.
• That all the baptized cherish the common home of this creation as they journey to the final home with God, I pray.
• That Christian Churches everywhere work in communion to treasure the gifts of this earth, and human life within the many cultures, I pray.
• That all people of good will respect the earth, care for all living creatures, and protect the dignity of all human life, I pray.
• That the widow and orphan, the poor and the hungry find willing partners in us who gather in prayer in this place, I pray.
• That children and grandchildren will look forward to an earth teeming with life and the gift of peace and justice for all, I pray.
• That in the spirit of welcome taught by Christ Jesus, we may embrace the poor and marginalized, the unborn child and struggling mothers, the sick and dying, and those imprisoned and on death row, I pray.
Prayer — O Son of God, perform a miracle for me: Change my heart. You, whose crimson blood redeems mankind, whiten my heart. It is you who makes the sun bright and the ice sparkle, you who makes the rivers flow and the salmon leap.
Your skilled hand makes the nut tree blossom, and the corn turn golden; your spirit composes the songs of the birds and the buzz of the bees. Your creation is a million wondrous miracles, beautiful to behold. I ask of you just one more miracle: Beautify my soul. Amen.
May each of us, by the grace of God, realize our unique purpose on this earth as thoughtfully explained by Dr. Seuss: "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."
(FYI: I can still recall from years past, the leaves we raked in a pile — on the edge of the lawn — waiting to be burned with a marshmallow dangling on the end of a stick!)