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God’s Presence

Today’s Gospel for Mass comes from Luke 4:38-44.  It has just seven verses and is set near the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry but it contains much of what we see throughout Jesus’ ministry.

We hear how the crowds bring people to Jesus as they intercede for them.  In response Jesus heals the people.  Jesus drives out many demons who know he is the Son of God and he does not allow them to speak.  Jesus says that he “must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.”

Throughout the gospels Jesus heals people, he drives out demons, and he preaches.  It is the last that he proclaims as the purpose for which he has been sent.

I have said before and will say it again that it is wonderful that Jesus performs physical miracles of curing people but he does not do miracles simply for the physical healing.  Jesus comes to proclaim the good news so that we know that God loves us and is with us.  The miracles that Jesus performs shows that he is Son of God and that the power of God is at work in him.

In ten years of priesthood I could not count how many people I have anointed.  Some were near the point of death so I offered the prayers for the dying along with the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  They passed and we pray they have been welcomed into eternal life.  I have also anointed many that sought healing.  In not a single one of them have I seen an instantaneous miraculous healing.  That does not mean the sacrament didn’t work.  Some have told me of how the pain they were experiencing was eased.  Several have described receiving a sense of peace.  To me this is God’s presence in the moment.

Just this past weekend, I had two different people approach me after Mass to ask for prayer.  As they described their physical ailments, I offered them the anointing.  As I did I saw something in their face that said they knew God’s presence in the moment.  That is what the grace of the sacrament makes us aware of.  God is always present with us.  The Sacraments are moments of specific awareness.

When we face a serious illness and seek the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, we are very much aware of our need for God.  When we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we do so because we are very much aware that we are in need of God’s forgiveness.  Our awareness opens us to that which we seek.

God also offers us grace every time we come to Mass to celebrate the Eucharist.  Do we embrace the grace or do we become used to receiving it and take it for granted?

God is with you.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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