Posts Tagged ‘Matthew’

School Days

March 2, 2016

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I went to school today.

Today is the birthday of Dr. Seuss, and the kids at St. Mary’s school were celebrating by having celebrities read the good doctor’s books to them.  It was quite a bit of fun, and the celebrities included some politicians, clergy, military leaders, firefighters and police officers.  I was not a celebrity.

My job today was to take pictures.  You can only imagine the photo target rich environment of an elementary school with adorable children sitting on a floor having “Horton Hears a Hoo” read to them by the Mayor of Cheyenne.  It really was enjoyable to see it, and the readers were having a great time doing it.

St. Mary’s school is what brought us to Cheyenne 32 years ago.  I came here to teach at the school after numerous unsuccessful attempts at finding a teaching job somewhere in the Intermountain West.  It was, in retrospect, obviously the work of the Holy Spirit that brought us here, because at the time I applied I was not practicing my faith, and the thought of teaching at a Catholic school was not what I had in mind.  Nonetheless, Sherry encouraged me to apply, and so I did.

I got a phone from Sr. Rosemary Hollerich, the principal, a few weeks after sending in the application .  She told me on the phone that I could come for the interview if I wanted, at my expense, and no guarantee of a job.  We were living in Wisconsin at the time and so lonely for the West (we had lived in Montana for three years prior to moving back to Wisconsin) that we packed a few things, put our then 7-month old daughter into our truck and drove 1,000 miles for a job interview at a place I didn’t want to work.

Funny how things work out, because it was the perfect move.  We had 8 periods in a day, and I had 7 different classes to prepare.  In addition, I was an assistant football coach and sometimes drove the bus.  Catholic schools are known for not being able to pay their teachers as much as their public school counterparts, and so I worked for starvation wages for the whole time I taught at St. Mary’s.

In spite of all that, we made some lifelong friends of the students and their parents.  St. Mary’s was a big family, and we were embraced as family from the start.  While the money situation was difficult, there was an abundance of love and support for us.   I also came back to my faith, which has proven to be the single biggest benefit to having taught at the school.

This St. Mary’s school where the books were read is not the one where I taught.  My school was knocked down a few years ago and is now a State of Wyoming parking lot. Today’s school is several blocks away from the old one, and represents a $14 million commitment of the people of St. Mary’s Cathedral to educate their children in a Catholic environment.  Hence the “Faith” photo above, sitting in front of the Dr. Seuss inspired artwork – One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. You can’t put that sign in a public school.

The delightful painting is outside a classroom, brightening the hallway with those cheery-faced children playing in the grass.  It’s indicative of the atmosphere at the school, which is full of love and joy.

It was fun being back today.  St. Mary’s school has been a part of my life for the last 32 years, and I would expect it to be a part of my life for the rest of my life.

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Do Not be Afraid

December 18, 2015
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Luke 1: 26-33 (This is a picture of a stained glass panel in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Cheyenne, Wyoming.)

 

Praying over today’s Gospel this morning, I became weepy and overcome with emotion.  It was Matthew’s account of the Angel of the Lord coming to Joseph in a dream, telling him that it was OK if Mary was pregnant, that he didn’t have to send her on her way, and that he should not be afraid to take her into his home.  (Matthew 1: 18-25).  This is a remarkable passage, so fraught with the knowledge of what was to happen, which was more than Joseph could possibly imagine.

In the passage from Luke’s Gospel below the photo, the angel Gabriel is announcing to Mary that she will have a baby who will take David’s throne and be a king whose reign will be eternal.  Oh, by the way, don’t be afraid.

In both passages, the angel assures the hearers of the news that there is no need for fear.  When I think of what Mary and Joseph have just been told, and that they should not be afraid, I ponder that in incredulity.  I’m a pretty faithful guy, but if I was told anything like that, I would doubt whether or not I actually heard it, much less not be afraid.

The accounts of Mary and Joseph being told about their yet-to-be-born baby are truly beyond comprehension.  These two have no idea what is in store, and having been given ominous messages from a direct messenger of God, they willingly accept their mission.  “Let it be done unto me according to thy word.”

Hence the weepy reaction today.  To think that our God would use these humble individuals to bring his only son to us, born into a simple family, to save us from our sins by dying a cruel and terrible death, and that we don’t deserve any of it.  He did it because he loves us.

Don’t be afraid.  Whatever you say, God.  I am yours.

Give yourself a treat.  Read these two passages, the one above from Luke and the one below from Matthew – out loud – and see what comes up.  Weepy is OK.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.

November 30, 2015
Follow me

Follow me

 

Today is the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle.  Andrew was the brother of Peter, and, like Peter, was martyred by crucifixion.

Jesus ran into (?) Andrew and Peter on the shore of the sea of Galilee as they were mending their nets.  He said to them “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Guess what –  they dropped everything and followed Jesus.

I paid particular attention, for obvious reasons, to the way that Matthew was invited to follow Jesus as well.  “He saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs post. He said to him “Follow me”, and he got up and followed him.”

For Andrew, Peter and Matthew, there was no hesitation.  They gave up their known lives and followed this man to ends of which they knew not.  They didn’t stop to think about it; they didn’t work out the orderly disposition of their goods; they didn’t sell their businesses or make some phone calls cancelling appointments.  They got up and followed him.

Could I do that?  To some extent, I did when I came to work for the Diocese of Cheyenne.  I sold a business that took many years to build. I left the known for the unknown.  Jesus called, and I heard him, and I answered.  I wasn’t nearly so trusting as Andrew, Peter and Matthew, though.

What would happen if Jesus called us to do something really hard?  What if he asked us to suffer persecution, or ridicule, or death, because of him?  Would we say yes?

Frankly, I don’t know if I could.  I have had to defend my faith in groups before, and it was never easy.  Could I really answer the bell? Could I drop my nets, or leave my business to follow Jesus? How would I react if I was given the choice to renounce Jesus – or die?

I want to say “yes” to those questions, but I’ll never know unless confronted with those choices.  I haven’t abandoned Jesus to this point, so maybe I’m stronger that I believe I am.  Maybe – no, definitely – I should trust in the Lord.  He will guide me, and help me in my times of trial, and not abandon me.

Let’s be like Andrew, Peter and Matthew.  Let’s get up, and follow him.


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