Weekend Reflections for 5/13/16
I was ordained as a priest 5 years ago. I celebrated my first Mass on Pentecost Sunday, which we celebrate this weekend.
Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to His disciples as tongues of fire. Through the power of the Spirit, the apostles are sent out to preach to the nations and spread the Good News. 2000 years later, the Name of Jesus has truly spread to every land, people, and culture. There are nearly 2.5 billions Christians in the world today. Catholic Mass is celebrated in every country, in hundreds of languages every day.
As a young priest, I have been blessed to share in this ministry of Christ. My first Mass was at my home parish, Sacred Heart in Florissant, MO. My parents and grandparents worshiped there. I was baptized, confirmed, and received first communion at this church. I raised the chalice that day, kneeling in the church were my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, former teachers, neighbors and more. This is the Church.
My biggest Mass was World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011. Over 1 million young people, bishops, priests and religious from around the world joined Pope Benedict XVI. We prayed to the Son under a burning sun on an airfield outside Mardrid, Spain. People sang and chanted in Spanish, Polish, Tagalog, and more. We are many, and we praise the same Lord together. Days earlier I had preached in the Loyola Basilica.
This mammoth stone structure marks the spot where St Ignatius was born and was converted to Christ. This is the Church.
I celebrated Mass in Mayan villages in Belize, Central America during my first assignment as a priest. An ancient culture of farming and thatch-roof huts exists alongside Twitter, rap music, and cell phones. I spoke in English and they responded in Mayan. I did not know what they were saying, nor did they understand me-- and yet, we did understand. This is the Mass, this is the Church.
I presided in the Rockhurst High School gymnasium in Kansas City during my previous assignment. The night before, the boys were there to cheer on the basketball team in the state playoffs. Now, 1000 boys sang and prayed before the altar, beneath banners from previous championships. This is our faith.
Now, I am honored to celebrate Mass at White House Retreat. In this chapel, thousands of men and women have opened their minds and hearts to the Lord and received His Spirit in Masses, talks, and prayers for almost 100 years. My grandfather, Joseph Ignatius Laramie, prayed here, and now I do, too. This is the Lord.
He is with us, He speaks to us, and He sends us out with the fire of His Spirit to the ends of the earth.
Fr Joe Laramie, SJ