Thursday, February 16, 2017

Be Fertile In Grace and Holiness

Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro
God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them: "Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth. … If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; For in the image of God has man been made. (Genesis 9:1, 6)
He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." (Mark 8:31-33)
O God, who teach us that you abide in hearts that are just and true, grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  (Collect from the Mass for the Day)
Life changing episodes recently featured on public radios “StoryCorps” included Mary Johnson whose son was murdered.  She met Oshea Israel, her son’s murderer, after he was released from prison.  "’I wanted to know if you were in the same mindset of what I remembered from court, where I wanted to go over and hurt you,’ Johnson tells Israel. ‘But you were not that 16-year-old. You were a grown man. I shared with you about my son.’  ‘And he (your son) became human to me,’ Israel says.  … (Mary adds) ‘And I instantly knew that all that anger and the animosity, all the stuff I had in my heart for 12 years for you — I knew it was over, that I had totally forgiven you.’ Johnson founded From Death To Life: Two Mothers Coming Together for Heal­ing, a support group for mothers who have lost their children to violence.  ‘Sometimes I still don't know how to take it,’ (Israel) says, ‘because I haven't totally forgiven myself yet. It's something that I'm learning from you. I won't say that I have learned yet, because it's still a process that I'm going through’."[i] 
In another StoryCorps conversation Bill and Claudia reminisce about the beginning of their romance which led to a 30+ year marriage.  Bill is partially paralyzed and admits that he was not very nice before the accident which disabled him.  "I was a hard ass," Bill says. "I was not the type of person that I think you would have wanted to meet. But you get a chance to lay in bed for six months and re-evaluate who you are. It was ... an opportunity to change the way I was." [ii]
Today’s readings are moments of profound change.  God promises to sustain the descendants of Noah and never to send such a devastating flood upon humans again.  Peter’s witness to Jesus that he recognizes the Son of Man shows his movement to conversion.  He follows but not in complete understanding. Jesus then begins to teach that his followers will have to share in his sufferings.  God’s thinking is not human thinking but God’s actions can and do infuse human thinking and action with grace and holiness.  He offers it to us. 
Today, look at everyone with whom you come into contact as being offered the same chance at change toward God that Noah, Peter, Mary, Oshea, Claudia and Bill were offered.  How can we nourish that growth toward God in them and ourselves?

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