June 23, 2016
This week in prayer:
How do you perceive the biggest difficulties in this chapter of your life? Do you see them as hair shirts to be endured or as crosses to be carried? For the most part, it is your call.
What do hair shirts and crosses have in common? Both are difficulties and both are avoidable. We can choose not to put on the proverbial hair shirt, the burlap smock designed to irritate people. We can also choose not to take up our crosses.
How do hair shirts and crosses differ? The most important difference lies in the carrier’s beliefs. What matters most is what we believe about the difficulties’ causes and consequences.
Causes? If we believe the difficulty is a byproduct of our discipleship, it is a cross. If we believe it is a random injustice inflicted on us, it is a hair shirt.
Consequences? If we believe the difficulty can help fulfill God’s hopes for the world, it is a cross. If we believe it is an useless hassle, it is a hair shirt.
Most of the time, we can park our difficulties under either heading. We can choose to treat our difficult school assignments as hair shirts or as crosses. We can choose to treat rough patches in relationships as hair shirts or as crosses. We can choose to treat the difficult demands placed on priests, prophets and kings as hair shirts or as crosses. The choice is almost always ours. When deciding how to engage them, it is useful to recall that Jesus says in this week’s gospel, we are to take up our crosses daily. He says nothing about hair shirts.
King Josiah, the one in the background of Sunday’s first reading, whose death caused the great sadness at Haddarimmon, clearly saw the link between his difficulties and God’s hopes. He embraced them gladly.
Saint Paul, author of Sunday’s second reading, knew his mission caused his difficulties. He also knew the agonies would yield great results. He urged the Galatians to do the difficult work of being good to each other and to see that difficulty as a cross that glorified God, not just an irritating request from Paul.
How might you become even more like Josiah, Paul and Jesus? Can you name three difficulties in life you currently treat as hair shirts but could treat as crosses? Which three difficulties might you revisit? See as byproducts of your vocation? See as difficulties that help fulfill God’s hopes for the world?
This week in service:
- Enormous thanks to the many people who have plowed, tilled, watered and weeded the gardens by the solar panels. There will be more information coming on that front but for now, THANKS. Much of the produce will help feed the hungry in our area.
- Servers – have you and your parents “Affiliated” via the web page? Thanks!
This week in community:
- Thanks again to all who have contributed to the cookbook project. The procrastinators among us still have two weeks to submit our best recipes.
- Have you already purchased a Sesquicentennial T-shirt? Get ‘em while you can! And keep an eye peeled for the “Priest, Prophet King” T-shirts. In a word, SUPER.
With a prayer for the start of your well deserved summer break – and with great hopes that your summer will be excellent and greatly blessed –
Fr. Hank, SJ