A few hours north of where Deacon Gerry ended his latest pilgrimage, there was a, “Now, here’s the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to broadcast over the radio. My part in the story started over five years ago, when seeking to volunteer at Guadalupe Valley Habitat for Humanity. It has been a joy to make connections with a least a dozen families, while helping them build their homes. These parents put in a minimum of 200 hours of sweat equity, after going through a rigorous application process. Afterwards, they end up with an affordable mortgage for the next 30 years. Saturday was our first double dedication. We built two homes at once for two, unrelated families of five with the same last name. The picture of the family I hope to post has roots in Mexico. The wedding cookies they shared after the dedication were brought from their Mexican hometown, five hours away. This family endured multiple rejected applications from Habitat. You would not know it from the picture, but she was not a single mom when the sweat equity hours began with her and her husband. Like all new Habitat homeowners, parents tell their story. The one she told the crowd in Spanish, included the passing of her husband the father of their children. You see, after they were accepted and started their sweat equity, he passed away from covid-19.
How do Habitat volunteers celebrate? They raise the roof.
What happens at a Habitat dedication? God is invited to live under the roof.
Greetings on this the Tuesday in the Octave of Easter Readings: Acts 2:36-41; PS 33:4-5, 18-19, 20 and 22; Jn 20:11-18
Note: My reflections are Catholic by nature and I hope also universally inviting with a broad spectrum of acceptance of your person. When you read, remember I am being careful to state certainty without judgment. To quote Pope Francis, our focus must be
‘to enter into a living relationship with the members of God’s people and to look at life from their perspective in order to understand the real difficulties they encounter and to help heal their wounds.
Repent and be Baptized
It’s pretty clear but not entirely so for many. In this age baptism is often seen as an optional, visually pleasing rite without any particular divine action associated with it.
The confusion comes in when we say, correctly, that God is not limited by the Sacramental system but rather offers himself through the Sacramental system as (1) what Jesus prescribed and (2) with the assurance of its potency.
The normative is for our benefit not our harm. The exception is for all cases that the normative is not possible. Dominus Supple (Lord, the supplier).
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.”
It might be helpful to add reading chapter 8:4-40 of the Book of Acts.
Here ae two examples one poorly discerning and one well discerning:
The story of Simon the Magician.
The story of Philip and the Ethiopian.
I often get calls in the time leading up to Easter for an immediate baptism! RIGHT NOW! Inspired, fearful or power hungry any of which could be true. From a normative perspective not something we can do unless there is danger of death. Repentance and formation is a year long process.
Again review the two stories in Acts chapter 8 above.
Usually there is an impatience to even talk about their spiritual life and formation to-date. I don’t know where they go but often do not come back at the beginning of the formation season.
So how to we keep in balance the need for immediate help and proper formation without being accused of establishing norms beyond those set by Jesus and the Apostles. Well, that battle has been going on for centuries.
For a cleric it is ALWAYS painful to have this crisis of orderliness and to encounter a heart so conflicted.
Our psalmist today helps us center our expectations.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, To deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.
Trust this promise most of all!!
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Old story: An evangelical friend of mine finally became a father. So happy! But came a sudden crisis of faith. He came to me and asked I immediately baptize his baby. I said no, not yet.
My Reply: You trust in God and continue to trust him. He knows your realization of sin and the necessity of baptism. Excellent. Your tradition waits until the age of reason. So wait to the Age of Reason. If the situation changes (fear of death), yes, of course. But not fear. Fear is not your God and we will not be mastered by it.
Now let us plan a blessing and prayer of protection for your beautiful baby.
That was an interfaith approach, ecumenism, specifically for the Believer.