The Young Man at the Tomb Holding Fast to Each Other Amen to What We Are The Lord, Our Justice Claiming Our True Name What We Expect The Comma Keeping the Demons Quiet The Dove in the Heavens Thankfulness and Generosity Speaking to Jesus A Promise to Simeon and Us A Sign for You The Voice in the Wilderness How Annunciations Work The Least, the Lost, and the Last Waiting for Christ’s Return Attire for the Kingdom The Cross in a Violent World Come to the Banquet Today Anointing of the Sick Finding the Eternal Change and Continuity Paying Attention The First and the Last Using Bad Consequences How to Talk to God Ready to Forgive Facing the Serpent Priority and Mutuality Three Meals a Day Searching for Pearls The Power of Service Why Walk on Water? The Day Jesus Was Wrong The Promise of the New Name The Two Feet of Love Facing the Hour Looking Backwards Touching the Leper Touching the Leper Misunderstanding God Doing It Poorly God’s Midwife A Name for the Holy Spirit The Coffin So We Do Not Have to Touch Being Better to Each Other Earthquakes and Galilee Lazarus as a Disciple Seeing More Learning from Peter Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/2/14 Imitating God’s Holiness Weekly Bulletin 3/9/14 Choosing a Master Goodness in Temptation A Pinch of Salt Teaching the Commandments The Freedom of the Baptist Christ’s Broken Body Faith Is More than Looking The Twelve Days of Christmas God’s Timing Resurrection and Transformation The Good That Is Gone Zacchaeus Moments God in the Smallest Things Trust and Community When God’s Commands Do Not Fit The Faith of Honeybees Choosing Hell Following the Dishonest Steward The Ninety-Nine The Freedom to Let Go Beyond Politics The Balance of Humility Not Fearing Fire The Beauty Remains To Welcome as a Samaritan A Moveable Peace Bring On the Women! The Two Sides of Bread Waiting for the Ticket The Groove of the Spirit Jesus Is Not Like Congress A Divine Partnership What Kind of Love Is This? Boston Bombings and God Fishing and Forgiveness A New Kind of Joy Letting Christ Out The Sign of Inversion Our Doodling God A Parable of Love and Jealousy Not Enough Time The Ordinary and the Transcendent The Battle with the Devil God Is Not Kidding The Power of Love We Are the Body of Christ The Arc of Life Waiting for the Final Gift Displacement at Christmas Incarnating God Presenting the Mess Red Cake and Lima Beans A Call to Serve Beyond Asking Jesus’ Commandment Being Ready to Take God in the Foxhole God Is Still Working Adjusting What Is Necessary Learning from the Prophet Amos About Jesus’ Brothers The Most Popular Miracle The Importance of Hunger Eternal Life Influencing Others Finding the Right Proportion Do What You Love Stopping for the Least To Love Irritating People Marriage, Divorce, and Children Asking for More Drinking the Cup Terror in Paris God Will Come Boundaries, Security, and Generosity Feeling Movements of Life A Place to Learn God Uses Small Things Signs of Life When God Says No Christian Optimism From Transition to Call The Long Struggle The Gate of Heaven Common Sense or Hope The Spoiled Son An Oasis for Everyone Jesus’ Last Meal The Curious Omission Finding a Pony Anointing of the Sick A New Commandment After the Ascension Sin and Love The Cross and Joy The Call to Follow A Call for Humility Violence in America Two Thoughts on Prayer Live Today with Thanksgiving An Examined Life The Narrow Gate Serving Ourselves Losing Sheep Using Dishonest Wealth The Door and the Chasm Faith and Duty Distance and More Not Growing Weary Making a Difference Inadequacies and Grace Finding God Facing Turmoil Jesus, Remember Me The Lion and the Lamb Wild Like John Let Go in Love A Wider Christmas The Last Six Miles God’s Big Plan The Remnant The Salt of the Earth Beyond the Ten Commandments Love Your Enemy Focusing Our Worry How Evil Works Our Transfiguration Re-membering Our Lives Our Story If Only The Time for Hope A Second Greeting of Peace The Eucharist and Welcoming Practicing Non-Violence The Work of Forgiveness Why Are You Looking Up at the Sky? The Mystery of Salvation Being Thankful How Is a Burden Light? The Problem with Sparrows Eternal Creation Patient Vigilance Buried Treasure Thinking Again Where You Do Not Want to Go The Courage to Speak Humility and Truth Do Something Good Knowing the Song Acting Against Evil God Will Come What We Can Say Senseless Violence Invitation as a Threat What Belongs to God Two Commands, Side by Side Burdens We May Not See Foolish or Wise Accepting the Consequences Serving the Least Watching for Jesus Camels and Gnats Becoming Smaller The Christmas Barber The Ring of the Kings The Freedom and Faith of John the Baptist Zebedee The Opioid Crisis Approaching, Grasping, Lifting Up What God Intends The Battle with Satan Following Elijah and Moses Standing in Truth A God of Love or Condemnation When Life Turns Not Fully Prepared The Wounds We Carry Selling Onions Son of Encouragement To Love as God Loves Engagement with the World Doubting Disciples Sabbath Avoiding the Diabolical Persistent Hope Speaking the Word Within Us “And Also With You” Capital Punishment I Will Go On Three Wise Choices Will You Also Leave? Show No Partiality Carrying the Cross for Whom? Outside the Lines The Camel and the Needle Ask First for Sight What God Sees Only God The Arc of the Universe Turmoil, Fear, and Dismay The Gift of the Desert A Punch for the Holidays Politics and Religion Jesus Always Understands One Body God’s Love The Call Blessings and Woes Imitating God’s Mercy The Blind Leading the Blind The Devil’s Agenda Looking Closer, Looking Beyond Accepting God’s Love Mob Thinking The Easter Egg Fishing with Uncle Mike Loving Like Jesus God’s in Love with This World

Trust and Community

Fr. George Smiga
October 20, 2013
Luke 18: 1-8

Today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus is problematic in several ways. First of all, it associates God with violence. God seems to be party to Joshua’s military campaign that mows down his enemies, the Amalekites, with the edge of the sword. The text also carries a magical component. As long as Moses keeps his hands raised, the Israelites have the better part of the battle. But, when Moses drops his hands the Israelites begin to lose. These characteristics of violence and magic are best explained by the primitive culture that created this story. But, if we could for a moment set these aspects aside, we can find in this passage from Exodus an important message for us today, because this passage speaks of our trust in God and of the importance of community.

The position of Moses’ hands in the story is not accidental. Holding one’s hands aloft is the traditional Jewish gesture for prayer. We use this gesture at mass during the Lord’s Prayer. So, Moses’ prayerful position is an indication that our ultimate trust must always be placed in God. When we have to face any kind of evil, when we have to prepare ourselves for any kind of battle, we need to believe that God is with us.

But this is not always easy. There are times where we simply cannot understand why bad things happen to us. There are times where we try over and over again to break a habit of sin, to forgive someone who has hurt us, to become less judgmental and more patient. And yet, despite all our efforts, we do not succeed. We can grow disillusioned. We can tire of believing. Our hands, lifted in prayer, fall.

When this happens to Moses in the story, he calls upon Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands. When Moses’ faith is too weak, he calls upon the strength of others. We need to follow his example. Often, we are not able to believe on our own. When we experience trouble in our marriage, we need to reach out and seek counseling from someone who has wisdom. When we discover that we have an addiction, we have to find a twelve-step program. When we receive a frightening medical diagnosis, we need to depend on family and friends for support.

When our faith is too weak, we need to depend upon the faith of others. This is why we have a faith community. We do not always have the strength to keep our hands raised in prayer by ourselves. So at times we must depend upon other believers to hold up our hands for us.

This is an appropriate reflection for us to consider today, on our patronal feast of Saint Noel, because what we celebrate today is our connection to one another in a faith community. What we celebrate today is the way that our faith, one with another, gives us the strength to trust and to believe.

We do not come here every weekend to pray in the presence of others. We come to pray with others, as part of the same community. We are, in fact, sacraments to one another, signs of the presence of Christ among us. Therefore, I am going to ask you today to do something we did at the beginning of the summer. I am going to ask you at the end of mass today to stay for a few minutes and introduce or re-introduce yourself to the people that are sitting around you. Give them your name. And if you can, maybe tell them what you love about St. Noel. Why you come to church here?

Speaking to one another is the best way to celebrate our patronal feast. The people sitting around us are not just the atmosphere of our prayer. We are connected to one another as members of the same community. Together, we form the body of Christ. It is when we join with one another that we can display our faith and raise our hands in praise of God.

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