It has been apparent to me for some time now that writing these reflections is a sacred privilege. It is also apparent that a power beyond any of us here guides the process. I know our assignments are randomly selected– assigning us about once a month yet for the third time, I have been assigned August 7 or 8. August 7th is the Feast of St. Lawrence and August 8th is the anniversary date of my brother Lawrence and Feast of St. Dominic. Last year it was the 50th anniversary of my brother’s death and, obviously, I was to reflect upon that event (and I did). Apparently, I am being guided to once again reflect on my brother and his premature death as I try to understand and share about St. Dominic. We know there are no coincidences in God . . .everything has a purpose and a meaning. My struggle is recognizing what that is at times.
A key aspect of St. Dominic's life is his emphasis on the concept of harmonizing the intellectual life with popular needs. The intellect, as I understand he addresses it, is the higher order of thinking beyond our physical bodies and ourselves to the realm of reflection and self-consciousness. So, how do we connect our reflections with our day-to-day lives? How do we read holy scripture and ancient lines and understand its meaning for us now and what may be happening in our lives?
All of the readings today focus upon faith and the rewards of living that faith. In the first reading from Old Testament, the Israelites have found favor again with God and are rescued from the sword (of Egypt). I am particularly moved by the line: “With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you.” How often we cry out that we are forgotten or not loved, our own inability to recognize the love of God blinded by what we want and measured in our own desires. The music and lyrics of a beautiful song immediately surfaced for me and have continued to play in my head:
I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have called you, and you are mine. . . .
The responsorial psalm continues with the words from Jeremiah – words of hope and love and rewards for the faithful. We are reminded that we are cared for – that we will be taken care of – the patient Shepherd will watch over us as we stumble through life. Have I always been grateful for the Shepherd’s presence? Did I understand that the pain I felt was to be given up and become a sacrifice? The gospel emphasizes the concept of true faith even more forcefully. The woman making her case that even dogs get scraps wins over Jesus with her faith and receives her reward for that faith.
So, as I ponder what I was to learn from this assignment – I do recognize that it is less about my brother’s death and more about the display of faith that I saw after his death. My father’s return to the church, my mother’s faith of daily prayers for the dead for over 30 years, my own increased understanding of love and faith – these are lessons for today. Faith says it all. In the spirit of St. Dominic, the everyday belief is forged on my faithfully reflecting on the divine and purpose of my life. In the words of Kutless from their song, What Faith Can Do . . .:
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