Homily From the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Today’s Gospel is about the multiplication of the loaves.

Now, I guarantee you that about 56% of people just went into screensaver mode if they weren’t in it already.  I mean, we hear this story a lot!  Actually, it’s the only miracle story aside from the Resurrection account that appears in all four Gospels.  This means two things: first, it means that from a scientific standpoint, the Gospels are actually as authentic as the Church has been saying they are for about 2000 years.  But secondly, and maybe consequentially, we hear it a lot.  And so we sort of go on autopilot.  We’ve heard all this, we know what happens, and so we just assume we know what we’re going to get out of it, if anything at all.  But God doesn’t want us to see this as just a normal thing.  He doesn’t want you to go into screensaver mode every time we read something familiar.  Rather, everytime we listen to these stories, we get something different out of it.  God wants above all to exceed our expectations.

So, into the Gospel.  We hear that these people have gathered around Jesus and the disciples and so Jesus asks the question, “What are we going to do with all these people?  How are we going to sustain them?”  Now, as we heard in the Gospel, he’s a sneaky guy, so he already knows what he’s going to do.  Tricky Jesus, it’s just a test.  He wants to see what the response is, and what he gets is an earthly solution to an earthly problem.  He gets, “We don’t have enough money!  Two-hundred days wages isn’t enough to feed even a few of them.  We have a few loaves and fish, but what good is that going to do?”  Again, these are simple earthly solutions to an earthly problem.  They forget who they’re dealing with here.  And so Jesus invites them to seek first above everything else a heavenly solution.

Then we hear this little formula as Jesus prepares the meal.  He takes the food, gives thanks, blesses it, breaks it, and shares it.  Does that sound familiar at all?  Well it should, because we’re about to do it here at the altar!  In fact, those same words are spoken every single hour of every single day at the celebrations of the Eucharist going on throughout the world.  So this is clearly a connection to the Eucharist.  But it’s also in a sense an approach to our own problems as well.

Like the disciples, we have problems with something.  And like the disciples, we can tend to seek purely earthly solutions to these earthly problems.  Now, I’m not saying that you have to take time to pray over a broken drainage pipe in your kitchen while it’s flooding your house.  But we’ve probably all heard that phrase “Offer it up,” and I wonder if we really know what that means.  Let’s look at it following Jesus’ method.

First we take the problems in our lives.  We admit that we have them, and that we can’t possibly solve them entirely on our own.  Next, we give thanks.  I’m not saying that we have to think of our problems, especially the severe ones like illnesses, as gifts or anything.  But we thank God for the many things that we’ve been given.  Sometimes we focus more on what we don’t have or on what we lack than on what we actually have!  Then we bless them.  What I mean by this is that we force ourselves to see through our respective issues to what God is asking of us.  What is God’s will in this situation?  What is the teaching of the Church?  And most importantly, How can I become a holier person through this?  Then we break.  Breaking things takes sacrifice, because we know that they won’t really be the same again.  So what we’re actually breaking when we “offer it up” is ourselves.  We acknowledge the sacrifice that God is calling us to in that moment, and how we are called to break ourselves.  Lastly, and most importantly, we then share.  We take our issues and our problems, and having prayed about God’s will for them, we offer them back to him, entrusting our wills into his hands.  When we do this last step, what we’re seeking out is a heavenly solution, God’s solution, to our problems.

One of my friends has what he calls “Chinese pants.”  These are the kinds of pants that he wears to a Chinese buffet restaurant, because of the elastic stretchy waist.  He knows that whatever he ends up getting at the buffet, it’s going to be in abundance.  And I bet the people in the Gospel needed some Chinese pants!  There was such a great abundance of food left over, even after people had stuffed themselves, that it was clear the miracle that Jesus had done.  I think what God invites us to today is to share in the abundance that he gives us as well.  When we truly offer our sins, temptations, struggles, and problems to him, he returns to us with great abundance, even beyond our purely human expectations.

As we prepare to celebrate these mysteries today, we are invited to place our intentions and our struggles on the altar to be taken, blessed, broken, and shared with our loving God.  May we have the courage and the humility to do so, and then to receive with great thanks the abundant gifts which the Lord wishes to share with us.

Homily From the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Last week while I was on the Mission Trip with our parish youth group, I spent a day moving an elderly lady from her old room to a new one, and much of this was in the kitchen.  The only thing that was a little different was that this woman was a hoarder, so it was quite an experience.  In any case, cleaning out the pantry can really remind of you of the importance of balance in your kitchen.  On the one hand, it’s important to stock up on food to keep a good supply.  In the rectory, you never know when you’re going to need something like cornstarch, or canned beets, or bags and bags of pine nuts.  But the problem comes when you leave that food in the pantry for too long.  Then you find things like we found on the Mission Trip like cans of vegetables from 2002, or frozen treats from 2004.  As I said, a lot of balance goes into keeping a good kitchen.

I kind of thought about that experience when I read this week’s Gospel because it’s about balance.  Jesus’ apostles had just completed some missionary work.  After working with and following Jesus for a while, they were sent to spread his message to other people.  And when they had finished their assignments, they returned.  They had experienced the power of God working through them, and they had done great things to win people over to Jesus.  But then what does Jesus do?  Does he give them a big powerful pep talk to get them energized again and send them out even further?  No, he invites them to come aside and rest with him, so that they can experience the quiet intimacy of their community and the quiet intimacy of prayer with God.  Obviously, what Jesus is trying to teach us her is that active Christian disciples who are out there doing the work of God in the world need to balance their activity with prayer, spending some time of intimacy with the Lord.

This is the balance that we need in our lives as Christians.  Without prayer or alone time with God, that well of self-giving will run dry, and we won’t be able to give as we should.  It’s the same reason you keep the pantry stocked – so you don’t run out of pine nuts when you need them most!  When that prayer isn’t part of the equation, the service turns into selfishness or resentment.  We’ve all felt it – “I always have to do this for you!  Why don’t you just take care of it yourself?”  When we lack prayer in our lives as disciples, we’re not able to give of ourselves freely.  However, when we don’t give to others freely what we have already received from God, that faith becomes static and lifeless.  Hoarding food in the pantry causes us to lose track of what’s been there longest, and it eventually goes bad.  If we live this way, with prayer but no action, our faith becomes all talk.  It sounds nice when we talk about it, but it doesn’t have depth.

This past spring, I had an opportunity to spend a week with the Benedictines at Conception Abbey.  St. Benedict had a little motto that is perfect for this issue – ora et labora.  “Ora” means pray, and “labora” means work.  Prayer and work.  These are two sides of the same coin in the Christian life.  And by golly, these Benedictines were out there living it!  One minute they’d be chanting their office in the basilica, and the next they’d be out in their habits and aprons, pulling weeds and pruning plants.  They were completely different activities, but you could tell the relationship between the two.  The prayer of their lives flowed out to everything they did in their work, and yet at the same time, the prayer was part of their work.

How do we balance the “Ora” and the “Labora” in our lives?  It’s true that some Catholics only pray when they come to Mass on Sunday, and the rest of the week they don’t even think about God.  It’s also true that other Catholics eat, drink, and breathe their prayers, but when it comes to responsibilities and giving of themselves to others, they’re nowhere to be found.  It can be easy for us to compartmentalize these things – our work and prayer – and so we decide to leave the building of the Kingdom of God to the nuns and missionaries.

So what can we do?  Any parent recognizes how quickly the day can get busy, and how quickly it becomes something that’s not your own anymore.  You wake up, and boom, you have to do things for others.  You are constantly at the service of other people.  And this can go for most people, not just parents.  It’s great to serve and to do things for others, but we need the time to take for rest.  One of the ways we can do this has been hardwired into our faith as Catholics in keeping holy the Sabbath day on Sundays.  We usually think of this as a Jewish thing from Jesus’ time, but Christians are supposed to obey the Sabbath too!  It’s supposed to be a day of rest, a day that’s different from the rest of the craziness of the week.  So we go to Mass of course, but then the Church even invites us not to do any unnecessary work.  Do you find yourself saving the laundry for Sunday, or mowing the lawn in the Sunday afternoon heat?  Really, God is calling us to come away and rest awhile with him.  He invites us to make it a day of family and fun, a day of recharging and giving thanks to God for the joy in our lives.  That’s why God created DVR’s – so I can relax and watch the Manchester United game that happened while I was offering Mass all morning!  Sunday is a day for barbecue, baseball, and family.  Now that’s much, much easier said than done, and many times, even the best plans go sour when things come up, but try as much as you can within your power to make Sunday your day to rest.  It is a day for prayer, and more than just sitting through Mass.  It’s a day of coming away and resting awhile with God.

At the end of Mass, after all this work of kneeling and standing and sitting at Mass we end the liturgy with “Deo gratias!” – “Thanks be to God!”  Well really, that’s what our lives should be about too.  We take some time away, thanking God for all the hard work I’ve done, and thanking him for the opportunity to do more.  As we continue our celebration, let us come away with the Lord and rest awhile, and through his Body and Blood, find the strength that we need to do his work in the world.

The Secret Prayers of the Mass: Purifying the Chalice

So you’ve just received Communion and are sitting down, and you look up to notice your favorite young associate pastor pouring water, and mixing, and swishing it around, and pouring again and again.  You probably start to wonder, “What the heck is he doing?  My breakfast reservation at First Watch is in 15 minutes!”

Well, don’t feel bad, and don’t get frustrated!  Most people probably aren’t that familiar with the purification of the sacred vessels (I wasn’t, until the seminary), but it is the process of special cleaning done by the priest, deacon, or instituted acolyte (don’t worry, we don’t have any of these guys at All Saints).  Because the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus, and because it is the most precious gift given to us and to the Church, we don’t want to leave particles or drops of the Eucharist just lying around in waste.  Purification makes sure of this.

The last thing I want you to think is that it’s washing the dishes.  In fact, I cringe when I hear that phrase referring to the sacred vessels.  Purification is there to treat these vessels and the Eucharistic particles with great respect – not because they’re gold or silver, but because of what they hold, the Body and Blood of Christ.  This process is actually kind of particular and involved.  It begins with pouring water over the fingers to remove any crumbs left over from distributing communion, and then involves washing up any remaining particles of the hosts and excess drops of the Precious Blood, combining them in one chalice.  The water and particles are then consumed by the priest or deacon, and never poured down a sink.  That way, any remaining Eucharist is safe within the temple of the body, and not dumped and combined with garbage and waste.

Meanwhile, the priest prays a very beautiful prayer while purifying the vessels: “What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity.”

This is absolutely one of my favorite prayers of the Mass, and is a vast improvement on the previous translation.  It is a prayer by the priest on behalf of everyone, asking God to open our hearts to the true power of the sacrament.  It’s a reminder that what we have just consumed into our bodies is not supposed to be a chore or an intellectual concept of some kind, but is a gift.  But while it is a gift of bodily food, it’s also a greater and more eternal gift – the gift of God’s grace, mercy, and nourishment – the gift of his dwelling within us! – that sustains us in our journey to eternal life.

The challenge in our receiving the Eucharist, and the goal of this prayer, is to be able to recognize that gift and to receive it with open hearts.  Just as the purification of the vessels prepares them to receive the gifts of the Eucharist during Mass, so this prayer is designed to help us receive the Eucharistic grace into our hearts!

Homily From the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

So I have a bit of a public confession to make.  I never learned how to snap my fingers until sophomore year of high school.  I was in the choir at the seminary, but I’ve never actually learned how to read music, much less play an instrument.  I can be bullheaded when there’s something I passionately believe in, but at the same time, I can be a coward.  I’m impatient, quick to anger and frustration, indecisive, and weak of will.  But when I look out from the pulpit today and see all of you, my spiritual children, or when I stand at the altar, holding the Body and Blood of Christ in my hands, I can’t help but feel gratitude for my priesthood.  That gratitude isn’t because I deserve what I’ve been given, but because I know I don’t deserve it.

In second reading, we hear the words of St. Paul reflecting on a pretty similar idea.  One thing you have to realize about St. Paul was that he wasn’t perfect, nor were any of the saints that we have statues of here in our church.  (St. Peter turned his back on Jesus, St. Ann might have slapped the Blessed Virgin Mary for acting like children usually do – the BVM!!! – and St. Wendelin…well…)  But all of them were human beings.  They had to face problems, hardship, suffering, and temptation, just as we do!  They didn’t live carefree lives, but it was their very challenges and failings that God used to make them saints.  St. Paul in the reading is reflecting on all the incredible mystical experiences he’s had of God’s grace, but at the same time, he’s talking about a thorn in his flesh!

So what was this thorn?  Nobody knows, but it could have been some kind of physical ailment like a bad back or sore feet from walking all over the Mediterranean world.  It could have been some sin or temptation like lust or greed.  It could have been the discouragement that he felt by being rejected over and over and over again.  It could have been his fiery temper that always seemed to get him thrown into this jail or that one.  Whatever it was, it was something that was pretty irritating to St. Paul.  He was always aware of it.  But rather than saying, “No, I’m not worthy to be a disciple of Christ,” it was through that weakness, through that thorn, that he became stronger.  We might wonder, “Well, if God loved him so much, why didn’t he take that pain away?”  Well, the weakness reminded him that he wasn’t strong enough to find salvation or to do the work of God on his own.  But it let him to say, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

So when you and I have those weaknesses, or those favorite sins that we seem to struggle with every day – that thorn in our flesh, maybe – it isn’t God’s anger or displeasure.  It’s not a punishment.  It’s not because we’re not good enough or worthy enough to be saints.  In a way, God permits it out of love for us.  It’s a sign that God is teaching us true wisdom and humility, like he did with St. Paul.

Here’s another example: look at our parish Youth Group, who will be leaving to go to Cincinnati for the week.  We’re a bunch of rowdy teenagers or tired old adults!  We’re loud and out of control at times, which is why I’m so looking forward to the 6 hour drive there.  We’re untrained in the things they want us to do.  We’re sinful and weak people, and yet, the things that we are going to accomplish by the end of the week are amazing: helping the poor, caring for those in need, and helping others to see Christ through us.  Is it because we’re good at it that those things will happen?  Probably not.  Is it because we’re expert disciples that they will happen?  Absolutely not.  But we can see in the end result and the graces that will come to those that we help that there is something else at work in us than just us.

In a way, we should be proud of our weaknesses.  Not because they’re good for us – sin is a cancer on the soul.  And we shouldn’t revel in our weakness and sinfulness out of some misguided social or religious idea that it’s our sins that bind us together.  Rather, it’s what happens despite our sins and weaknesses that makes us who we are.  Our weaknesses are useful because they constantly remind us that we depend on God for his mercy.

Sometimes people joke about why they haven’t been to confession in so long.  They’ll say, “Oh Father, we’d be in there for 4 hours!”  I just don’t get it.  So we’ll be in there for 4 hours – what the heck do you think it’s there for???  That is precisely the whole point of why we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  If it were just for those who were perfect, why would they need it?  While I can’t reveal what people say in confession under pain of excommunication, I will tell you that although I’ve experienced a lot of things I didn’t expect as a seminarian, (so much so that there’s nothing anybody tells me that I’ve never heard before) I have never experienced someone perfect coming into the confessional.  It’s scary because of our fear of inadequacy or weakness, but it’s our opportunity to depend on God alone.  Whatever that thorn is in your side, it is when you are weak, and vulnerable, and painfully open to expressing that weakness, that you are strong.  And it’s only through an encounter with God’s mercy and loving grace that we find that strength.  When we acknowledge that weakness, and our dependence on God, we can say together with St. Paul, “I am content with my weakness for the sake of Christ, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Homily From Independence Day 2012

I know, I know, it’s a little late.  But still…  By the way, I used Archbishop Dolan’s blog post on Independence Day for some inspiration.  Lots and lots of inspiration…

Does anybody know what day the 4th of July is in Moscow?  Sorry, that’s a trick question.  The answer is: it’s the 4th of July!  (Just making sure you’re awake.)  The 4th of July is just a day, but to us Americans, it means much more than that.  It’s an opportunity to thank God for the abundant blessings that he has bestowed upon us, and on our country.  If you look around the world, it’s easy to pick out nations where instead of peace, and freedom, and prosperity, they experience war, oppression, hunger, persecution, sickness, and suffering.  And so we find ourselves being thankful for the blessings we have as Americans.  Despite the struggles our nation finds itself in at this particular time, we’re thankful for what we have.

Oh wait! Wrong Independence Day…

One of those things that we’re thankful for, especially today, is liberty.  In fact, today is even called “Independence Day.”  But sometimes, although we Christians have a great love for our country, we find ourselves in a difficult place with how American values interact with our faith.  Liberty or independence can sometimes devolve into license, and becomes the freedom to be able to do what I want.  Sometimes the things that we profess as part of our faith seem to be at odds with freedom or independence.  For example, we hear that being a servant is the pathway to heaven, but what about our country’s value of liberty from servitude?  We hear that the last will be first, but what about American prosperity and opportunity?  We constantly hear of the Lordship of Christ or the Kingship of Christ, but what about the fact that we’re a kingless nation, where all of us are kings?  Lots of these things don’t really tie up well with our sense of independence.  Sometimes the view of our independence, whether we realize it or not, can be an independence from God.  Rather than being independent, therefore, we become overly dependent on ourselves!  Rather than being free, we’re caught in the shackles of our own pride and selfishness!

But really, it’s being dependent on God where we find ourselves most independent.  It seems strange, but depending on God allows us freedom.  It’s not necessarily the freedom to do what we want, but it is the true freedom to be able to do what we ought.  It is the freedom to do as we’ve been shown by Christ, the freedom to love others freely and without reservation.  So really, while we celebrate our independence as a nation, maybe this calls us to look at our own lives and see how dependent we are on God.  Where do we turn when we find ourselves in difficult times?  Do we turn to God, or to ourselves?  Where do we turn when we find ourselves in the midst of failure?  Where do we turn when we find ourselves in the midst of success?

May God continue to bless us with a true and beautiful understanding of our independence.  May he call us to those noble virtues that made this country what it is for us and for future generations of Americans.  May God bless us with peace, prosperity, and the common good.  And may God bless America.

The Secret Prayers of the Mass: At Communion

What is it that brings us together at Mass on Sunday?  Is it the community?  Comfort? Obligation?  Fr. Grosch’s amazing homilies?  Donut Sunday?  All of these things are aspects of our Sunday liturgy (except maybe the last two…maybe), but the real purpose of the Mass, and the real purpose of the Eucharist itself, is, as its name implies, communion.

Communion is what truly draws us together when we celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass, even if we’re too tired or distracted to realize it right away.  When we receive Holy Communion, we’re entering into an intimate encounter with Christ.  There’s a strange paradox about the Eucharist, really: As food, we sacramentally receive Jesus into our bodies, but we do so that we can more completely be assimilated into his!

One of the themes that, when you listen closely, you’ll hear over and over again in the prayers of the Mass is that the Eucharist, as powerful as it is, and as real a communion as it is, ultimately is really only the anticipation of the greatest communion – being together with God in Paradise.  And so the prayer that the priest prays quietly before he receives the Eucharist is a great example of that: “May the Body of Christ/Blood of Christ keep me safe for eternal life.”  In praying this prayer, and in receiving the Eucharist, the priest is asking for the greatest gift of all: not just communion on earth, but the salvation of his body and soul for communion in heaven.

There’s a small change that occurs in the new translation of the Roman Missal, coming from the Latin word custodire, which for us, is translated “keep me safe.”  You might recognize this Latin word in English words like “custody” or “custodian”.  Really, what this word shows us is that the Eucharist that we receive isn’t just a Sunday thing or a “one-and-done” event.  When you receive Holy Communion, Jesus claims custody of us, and he takes responsibility for us, to guide us, watch over us, and protect us.

Some of you…more experienced…folks might remember the word custodiat spoken to you as you received Communion at the rail (if the priest was speaking slow enough that it didn’t sound like gibberish).  And really, it’s the same concept today.  This is a prayer that each of us can pray personally, that we might be able to humbly entrust ourselves to the custody of God.

So keep that in mind for the next time you receive the Eucharist.  It’s never as simple as it appears, but truly leads us to an intimate relationship with God, both in this life, and in the next!

Homily From the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Here in the Midwest we don’t get too many stories of shipwrecks, but when you hear stories, you really have to respect the resolve of the shipwreck survivors.  I was reading about a shipwreck off the coast of Christmas Island near Australia in 2010, where 42 people survived by clinging to the wreckage until they were rescued.  When you’re in a shipwreck, what’s the first thing you do?  Search the nearby island for the Others?  Paint a busted volleyball to have as your companion?  Decide who will be the skipper, the first mate, the professor, etc?  No, the first thing you do is grab hold of the debris around you and hold on for dear life until safety is achieved.  You know that you can’t let go no matter what happens, because without that debris, you’ll drown.

In a sense, a truly humble person is like a shipwrecked person.  Humility is that recognition of our dependence on Christ, and then, like a shipwreck survivor, we cling to him to save us from disaster.  Lots of times people think that to be a humble person you have to be a floor mat for anyone else who has an opinion.  In that view, if you’re humble, you’re weak, not strong.  But really, in order to be strong and powerful, we need first to be humble, and to recognize our dependence on God.

Let me give you an example from the French Revolution.  Now, I have to admit, this is one of my pet peeves about the French Revolution.  Lots of people probably think of Les Miserables when they think of the French Revolution, but for me, I hate to admit it, but I’d probably be on Javert the policeman’s side.  Lots of terrible things happened during the French Revolution.  Probably most of the Church’s modern martyrs come from this era.  The Revolutionary government took over the Church, and Catholics who refused to go along with it were imprisoned or guillotined.  In the midst of that, we have the example of Jean Chantebel.  He was a man of strength and humility in the real sense of the word.  He was a farmer, and the only education he had came from his little catechism.  He loved that book, and used to just sit and reflect, savoring the truths he read in it.  He refused to attend the revolutionary church, so the authorities seized his house, and as they searched, they found the worn catechism in his belongings, which was an act of treason against the Revolution.  So the revolutionaries set up a bonfire in the middle of the town and gathered people around it so that they could pass sentence on their prisoner.  They put the catechism on the pyre and put a torch in Jean’s hands, ordering him to burn the catechism and religious items.  But Jean replied, “I will never do it.  That book contains the principles of my faith, and you will never get me to renounce it.”  So they took the torch, and burned his hand, pressing him to do it.  But he continued to resist, saying, “You may burn not only my hand, but my whole body before I consent to commit an act unworthy of my religion.”  They humiliated him, spat at him, and beat him, but nothing could tear him away from his faith.  This was a man clinging to life, clinging to that one piece of wood in the midst of his spiritual shipwreck – the Cross.

In the Gospel, we have a woman who had been afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.  She had spent her whole life looking for a cure, searching for the best doctor in the region.  She spent her livelihood to find a cure for what was probably a painful and embarrassing illness.  But with all that money spent, and all of that work done, she found herself with nothing.  And so when Jesus passed by, she found a glimmer of hope, and reached out to him for healing, clinging to his tassels.

How often do we find ourselves in a similar position?  Sometimes we might feel like we’re reaching and reaching, but are simply unable to grasp hold of anything, unable to even touch the tassels of Jesus’ cloak.  We can’t bring ourselves as close to Jesus as maybe we know we want to be, or as we know we should or could be.  We become too consumed with other things, with the doctors of the world, like the woman – things that we think will make us feel stronger.  Things like passing pleasures, or various addictions.  But we need to have the humility to recognize that even as we’re reaching out to these other false remedies, the true and divine doctor is standing in our midst.  He is the one who offers fulfillment, healing, and forgiveness, especially through the sacraments.

That’s a tough thing to recognize.  It’s not always fun to have this faith.  Sometimes it even becomes easier when we’re in the midst of a crisis or disaster.  Lots of people have faith when there’s nothing else out there.  But what about when it’s not that clear?  Probably a lot of people have been teased or mocked for going to church, even if it’s completely out of fun.  Still, if you know that humiliation is coming, why bother with your faith in the first place?  Or maybe there are some things that the Church says or does that we don’t want to hear and don’t want to take the time to understand.  It can be tough to know when to reach out to Christ.

But in the midst of that spiritual shipwreck, even if it doesn’t seem that severe, that’s where we need to cling for survival and life.  Much as you and I might not feel like it, we should always try to find the time to put ourselves in the presence of God, especially here in church.  Weekend Mass is a given of course, but try making it up for daily Mass once or twice a week.  Or try to take some time for adoration if you can, even if it’s just for 20 minutes.  Whatever it is, it’s important that we do what we can to cling to Christ, having the humility to recognize that we need him.

So let us turn to him now.  We know that as weak as our faith is, and as much as we might struggle with humility, and as little as our hope might be sometimes, if our lives are directed to Christ in a genuine love, and if we cling to the tassels of his mercy and goodness, Christ will reach down to us and say, “My child, your faith has saved you, go in peace.”