Psalm 90: 3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, and 17bc “…Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom o f heart. …”
Luke 9: 7 - 9 “… But Herod said, ‘John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he kept trying to see him.…”
St. Pio of Pietrelcina, priest (1887 – 1968) Known to all as Padre Pio, he lived during our lifetime. Most of us have heard of the many spiritual gifts he shared with us. In particular the stigmata on his hands and side which caused him great personal suffering and were there continuously from 1918 up until his death. He heard confessions for several hours and could tell people their misgivings before they spoke. While he was forbidden to say Mass publically for a couple of years, he prayed for all the departed souls whose names God had entrusted to him. He also had the gift of bi-location, and through his intercession many people were cured of their illnesses. In the book, Padre Pio, the True Story, by C. Bernard Ruffin, he describes a prayer life that included communication with Jesus and Mary and the angels, sometimes his own, but many times the guardian angels of people who had asked him for prayer. He said they were much quicker than relying on our human way of transmitting messages. Humble, pious and without a doubt St. Padre Pio is and was a great gift to us.
In today’s first reading in Ecclesiastes, I was moved by the overall message that described how little control humankind has over the affairs of our lives. My eyes stopped on two sentences in particular, the first about the wind blowing from the south and from the north. I couldn’t help but think of the bike ride I’d just taken that day dealing with 30 mile an hour winds from the south/southwest. As I watched my bicycle’s compass, I verified my body’s sensations of being helped or hurt along the way. It was fun to confirm the wind had not changed direction - we had, as we followed the river’s winding bicycle path. Yes, I could attest that like the sun that rose and set, the wind also had that kind of power over our day.
The second sentence that stuck with me was towards the end of our reading: “There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them.” (Ecc 1:11) Sadly, since history was not a favorite subject when I was growing up, I regret not having a better sense of it today. As a child I felt no responsibility to learn what people who came before me did, but today at the risk of making some mistakes over and over again, I really wished I knew our country’s history better. It is inevitable that our good and bad works will fade from today’s memory, but I think today’s reading further emphasizes our need to rely on God, and not on our own understanding. Only God knows all of humankind’s history and our habit of relying on ourselves. But, contrary to that last sentence in God’s Name, thankfully, we do remember.
The Gospel is quite brief and it further highlights this theme. When after John the Baptist‘s death, Herod starts to hear another Name, and that person is doing even greater things than John the Baptist whom he thought was gone forever. The only reason we know Herod’s name today is because of Jesus. So, as we feel the weight of our world today with its many shortcomings, let us think of our readings and remember to place all our cares into the Lord’s hands and wait for our instructions before we act. And like we learned from Padre Pio, using our Angels as messengers will get the message there quicker.
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