From the Pastor – June 20, 2010

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” (Lk 9:18)

We might skip over the first part of today’s Gospel without thinking too much. Jesus asked: “who do the crowds say that I am.” We might not think about it because we already know who Jesus is. We know He’s the incarnate Son of God. He’s the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. He’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He’s the suffering servant. He’s the Good Shepherd. He’s the Son of Mary. He’s our Savior. He’s our Redeemer. He’s God.

But that’s the point. Since Jesus is God, He’s “everything.” And He came to proclaim Himself as the fulfillment of all of our dreams and desires. As Scripture said: He came “to bring glad tidings to the poor… to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” (Lk 4:18). Whatever our deepest human need might be, Jesus is the remedy. So when Jesus asks us “who do you say I am,” He wants us to examine what our deepest needs are. And He wants us to see Him as the way toward satisfying them. Am I depressed? Then Jesus is the one who will help me carry my cross. Am I lonely? Then Jesus is with us in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with us. Am I stressed? Then Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Am I searching for something to give my life meaning? Then Jesus is the way. Am I confused and frustrated by the passing things of the world? Then Jesus is the truth. Am I tired of living in the darkness of sin? Then Jesus is the light.

This past Church year has been bittersweet for me. It began with the announcement of the Year for Priests, and I said to Jesus “you’re my model.” Then less than a month later, my Dad died. And I had to say to Jesus “you are my refuge and my strength.” I started the Year of the Priest with great ideas about how I could promote it and live it. And immediately, I recognized my own need for priests to minister to me. I needed Jesus, the Eternal High Priest.
Last Thursday, I attended a lunch given by the Willwoods Community to honor three priests: Fr. Tom Chambers, CSC; Fr. Neal McDermott, OP; and myself. And it made me think about how Jesus had come to me through these two holy men over this past year. They have been my “refuge and my strength.” They have supported me for a long time, but especially when I needed it so much at the death of my Dad.

As we celebrate “Father’s Day” this year, I’m sad for not having my own Dad here. But I’m grateful for the “Fathers” in my life. I’m grateful for their bringing Jesus to me. And I’m grateful to Jesus Himself. Because if one my greatest human needs is the desire to be back together with my own Dad one day, then Jesus is the way. He’s the way to Our Heavenly Father, and He’s the way to my earthly Dad.

And since Jesus is also the Bread of Life, then my celebration of the Eucharist brings me closer and closer to my Heavenly Father, as well as my earthly Dad in Heaven. Happy Father’s Day!

Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty