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Unsung

November 29, 2015

It is time that I catch up posting all of these back-logged Reflections, so for that I am indeed sorry.  I hope that they can still enrich some of your thoughts as we spend time this weekend giving thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving:

You will probably not be surprised that, on Memorial Day weekend, I do a lot of reflecting for this Reflection. Last year, I told you the story of my old shipmate, James, from Visalia, California. On May, 17, 1987, he was killed when a missile fired in error by an Iraqi warplane, struck and hit the USS Stark, patrolling during peacetime in the Persian Gulf. 37 died, including my friend, Jimmy, who was a salty 27 years old. I have a Mass said for him every year. After writing of this on my blog, I heard from Karen – which has become a giant blessing in my life – who is married to Jimmy’s oldest brother. Both of Jim’s parents have passed on, her husband is going blind from diabetes and bound to a wheelchair, the second brother committed suicide, the third brother just found out this year he has cancer, (Jim was the fourth brother), and the youngest died last year. Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions”. But they have all been so pleased to receive the Mass cards from us. Please accept their thanks and keep this family, which has gone through many trials and tears, in your prayers.

I have served this nation for nearly thirty years now. There are some people who think this is the ‘official’ start of summer, or the barbeque holiday, but I keep the faith. I remember. It is a bit of a paradox, serving in the military. They all know they can be sent into harm’s way at any given day. And yet all are volunteers, average age almost 20, all carry with them honor, courage, and commitment; confident in their training, to carry out their mission, and serve as ambassadors for our country. Most haven’t returned, lately, unscathed. But we all learn to ask the right questions, of ourselves, yes, our comrades, and the world.

Jesus himself is confronted by a confident youth, who asks the right question: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He is pretty bright. He knows he is asking the right guy for the answer. He has prepared and acted his whole adult life to handle the mission he is asking for. And I love this part: ‘Jesus, looking at him, loved him’. Just as we look upon our young heroes – and ask them to do the hard tasks, Jesus is about to ask this rich, young man to part with the very thing he defines himself with – his material wealth. And he already knows how the youth is going to answer, coming up short. And still, ‘Jesus loved him.’ As he loves us. The rich, young man went away sad, but hopefully, that is not the end of his story. There is still time for him – as there is time for most everyone to do the hard task, as Jesus requests of us. When we deny ourselves, when we take on poverty, then others shall become rich.

The young man is asked the hard thing, maybe even the impossible thing. Legend has it Mother Theresa once had this sign at her desk: “We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything, with nothing.” It became a mantra of soldiers serving in Vietnam. Never be surprised by what you can accomplish!

When we think of our soldiers today, remember they are being asked to do the impossible – sometimes daily. All have paid some. And some have paid all, and we remember those today.

Love and Respect,

Papa

 

Monday, May 25, 2015.  Eighth Monday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 17:20-24. Turn again to the Most High, and learn the judgments of God.

Response: Ps 32:11a – Let the just exult and rejoice in the Lord.

Mark 10:17-27Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor.

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