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Father Muench Says...

What does a relationship with Jesus mean?

Sept. 13, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

As you know, the Scripture readings for the Masses on Sundays have already been carefully chosen.  I find it so interesting that almost every Sunday the Gospels selected seems to be just perfect.  They say something about what is happening.  I noticed this most recently on the Sunday after the hurricane that hit Texas  caused so much destruction.  In that Gospel Jesus speaks about the sufferings of life.

Most of us do not have to be reminded that suffering is a part of life.  We learn very quickly that to accomplish something in life, we should be ready to work hard, to suffer a bit.  Following the way of our Lord, living a good life, helping others – being a good person, a good parent, a good friend, may mean our acceptance of the unselfishness of suffering.  Jesus makes it clear that suffering is easy when accepted with love.

In that Gospel reading, Jesus challenges us, his disciples – “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.” I was deeply impressed by the many stories I heard about the innumerable ordinary folks in Texas who accepted hardships to help others.  They literally saved lives, they rescued many.

Let me mention the wonderful efforts of the many police and firemen and women also.  They also accepted sacrifices beyond their usual duties.  I would also use this opportunity to commend the many parish priests in the affected areas – they worked so hard to help protect their parishioners. 

One story I noticed was a pastor who is into kayaking.  He got into his kayak and went around his parish checking up on his people.  Catholic Charities gave so much support and help throughout so many who were suffering.

These efforts  continue now during the time of recovery.  Many private citizens have joined in the efforts to clean up neighborhoods – helping their neighbors – being dedicated Christians.  They accept these crosses in their lives out of love and concern for others.

When Jesus tells his apostles of his sufferings and the possibility of death, he speaks to them of new life, of a resurrection. For Jesus, the cross leads to Easter, to resurrection. This is an important icon of our Christian spirituality – the cross leads to resurrection.  Our acceptance of the hard work of being good and dedicated disciples of our Savior – leads to the happiness we are searching for in life. 

This is often part of our daily life, not a once in a lifetime event.  Every day we go through this cycle, accepting the cross that leads to new life and happiness.  We find happiness by accepting the hard work of making this a good day.  I see this often as a priest.  I watch parents who are willing to give of themselves to raise their children, who find the joy of seeing their children succeeding in life.  I see friends reaching out unselfishly to help others, finding the satisfaction and happiness of friendship.

A prayer from the works of Father Edward Hayes:  Blessed are you Lord our God, who watches over us in times of trial and danger:

Thanksgiving fills our hearts, as we rejoice in You, our Lord and Holy Protector.  We who live in the midst of storm and sickness of war and danger, who are daily exposed to evil of every sort, rejoice in Your constant and parental love for us.  Surrounded by darkness and the shadow of fear, we do not falter, for we trust that Your constant care cradles us and keeps us safe.  With angelic attention, You watch over our home and each of our bodily temples.  Your holy spirits surround us and, in winged wonder, call us to prayer and to confidence.  Guard us in this time of danger, as Your Holy Presence fills the darkness of this moment with the splendor of Your shelter.  Blessed are You, Lord our God, who watches over us in times of trial and danger.  Amen.

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