I honestly laughed when I read the opening lines from the first reading today. It’s from the Book of Sirach which is in the Old Testament. It is written during a time period of Israel’s history where they are under occupation and are trying to find ways to hold onto their faith in the midst of persecutors who are trying to get the Israelites to convert. Sirach’s main message is that whoever keeps God’s Commandments is favored by the Lord. So, the author of Sirach offers advice throughout the Book in order for the listener to adhere to God’s Law, and not be dissuaded by their conquerors.
The first line of our reading from Sirach today is, ‘Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.’ The reason why I laughed when I read that was because I thought of New York and Philly and the reputations we have. We are tough people. We enjoy our fast-paced life and love our sport teams. We could even have the reputation of being angry often. (Side Note: It always amazes me the further south I drive past Washington D.C. - it seems like people get nicer and nicer the further south you go - when you get into ‘God Bless his heart’ territory.)
I don’t think the “edge” we possess from living up in the Northeast means we are terrible sinners and hug tight wrath and anger. Sirach is giving advice to the Israelites to stay true to God’s Law and not get swept up by the things of the world. Our “edge” that we possess can most certainly lead us at times into wrath and anger - but it can also lead us to love God and our neighbor more fiercely - to have that fire. To have that heavenly passion. So, the question is: Passion for the things of this world? Or Passion for the things of heaven. Let us pray that we will always be able to have the grace to have passion for the things that will lead us and others to heaven.
A couple of updates:
1. School is now in its second week. This week was be full day classes. Please keep our administration, teachers, staff, children, and their families in prayer that we will continue to be safe and vigilant. Everyone has been doing a wonderful job thus far and showing their passion for Visitation School.
2. We will be sprucing (pun intended) up the grounds soon - simply adding some color and taking out some dead trees and bushes and such. We will focus our attention initially at the Our Lady of Life Grotto (which has to be one of the most beautiful statues) and the church entrances. We will then move into the next phase with the school.
3. We will shortly begin looking into getting live-streaming services into our church so as to provide the ability for people to view every Mass, Baptism, Funeral, Wedding, etc. It is vital for us to have the ability to provide people who cannot come to church right now the chance to participate in these beautiful Sacraments with our family of faith.
Thank you for all that you do for our family here at Visitation. Let us keep one another in prayer.
May the Lord give you His peace,