in human form

I’ve had a few emails in the past 24 hours from people who took the opportunity yesterday on the feast of St. Damien of Molokai to watch the movie I had recommended.

Last night I watched it again, this time especially appreciating his humanity and imperfections.

Perhaps it was the situation we find ourselves in with the virus and lockdown or maybe my own situation in the midst of a few recent unexpected challenges and changes, but I was moved by this true story of a 19th century man who placed God and the people of God before all else including his own life.

In the heart of today’s first reading (from the lives of the first Christians in the Acts of the Apostles) there is a line spoken by those who did not understand the Christians and didn’t believe that Christ was who he said he was. But they had to admit after seeing the healing miracles of Jesus that “‘These people are gods who have come down to us disguised as men.”  Another translation puts it this way: “The gods have come down to us in human form.”

Too often we make the serious mistake of thinking of our humanity, our bodies, as an obstacle to the life of Christian faith. In Jesus God has reminded us that we are human by divine design, and that we can only live Christian faith in a human body, with human spirit, mind and heart. The human body was good enough to be the living temple of God on earth in Jesus.  Jesus in his human body lived the extremes of human existence, experiencing every human struggle, temptation and emotion.

We sometimes hear good people referred to as “angels”.  While it is a great thing to be a messenger of God, for a man or woman to be accused of being disembodied is hardly a compliment.  We won’t even be angels for eternity since we believe in the “resurrection of the body.”

There are some great lines in the Damien of Molokai film. One dying man tells Damien the priest “Come back tomorrow, I might then be frightened enough for the sacraments!”  I like that.

Then some humour from Damien when he is asked “Do you honestly believe that only Catholics go to heaven?” Damien responds “I’m not absolutely certain, but I believe that Catholics can go to heaven.”

Then the script-writers put some great inspiration into Damien’s first sermon among the lepers:

“My fellow lepers – We are here to seek God’s solace, to be reminded of his love for us… I want to remind you that all people know loneliness. All people know isolation, despair, All people are afflicted in their hearts or bodies by sores and wounds which make them outcasts, outcasts to all but God. In his life on earth Jesus healed the blind, the lepers, not to tell us that people would not be blind and would not be lepers but to tell us that in His eyes the blind could see and the lepers would be clean, and that he loves us …on that cross, as now, he shares all of our agonies. And by following in his light he will show us all the way to peace.”

 

An Invitation:

  • Whenever you think of it over the next few hours be aware of your body, using your bodily senses as the gateway to the soul. Let your physical senses lead you to be more aware of the senses of your soul. Let Jesus speak to you through your body.
  • The image above: Bodies Entwined. Artist: Patsy Wooters.
  • Damien, the movie, at this link.
  • Pray to Sleep (a ten minute bedtime audio reflection) at this link.
  • Today’s readings at this link.
  • Send your prayer requests to john@fff.org.nz. Each day I will add the initials of those we pray for to this list. Take a moment, perhaps 15 seconds, to pray in whatever way you choose for those whose initials appear below, and don’t hesitate to send repeat requests for prayer.
  • And an encouraging quotation from the Damien movie: Damien in tears admits: “I have been unable to pray, I have begged God to speak to me but He is silent”. The one Damien is speaking to responds “God is not silent, he is just waiting.”

While many who send in prayer intentions simply send initials, others add a few words about their prayer intention.  As an example I share a few of these from the intentions of the past couple of days:

prayer for healing of an ongoing kidney infection that is not responding to treatment. Wife died on the second day of lockdown. Surgery on Tuesday for hernia.  Drug and alcohol addiction. Mother & adult daughter relationship. Death of husband.  Myself because I doubt anyone else does. Mother-in-law who has had a stroke and would like to die. Father died some months back. Teenager suffering wounds from early life not visible to naked eye. Young person suffering Motor-Neurone Disease, Sick, Young father of two small children -terminal illness with brain tumour, people who feel they have have become distant from God, sick, someone who has been removed from life-support and is now surviving but with severe brain damage, losing battle against Motor-Neurone, Mother and daughters struggling with death of husband and father. Son-in law struck by a car months ago and in wheel-chair awaiting surgery in the hope of walking again. Recently widowed woman suffering poor health, Young person suffering PTSD, for a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus. Thanks for many blessings received during this lockdown time. Healing for all who have been physically, mentally, emotionally or sexually abused. That all members of our small community will grow in their relationship with Jesus and be guided by the Holy Spirit regarding our future. For healing of festering wounds from past hurts. That all members of our church will respond courageously to post virus challenges. For healing of abdominal and bowel problems. For healing of a person’s knee problems. Daughter suffering from depression. Diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma. Brain surgery yesterday (Sat). Young (20’s) sister feeling hopeless. 93 year old struggling with independence. Woman living with cancer but in much pain & discomfort. A family with both job loss and marriage breakup.

Let us pray today especially for:   AD, NF, PR, GPB,  BA, MA (RIP), LM,  SB,  MO’D,  S&SW,  DMcA,  SS, VM, PM, NM, 

Yesterday (Sunday)  BB,  BR, RM, IW,  BL,  AM, JM, SM, JH, CSL, BS, AW,  MR, SR, JC, LR, JF, AB, AB, MB, CB, LJ, AF, JB, CB, SB, MB (RIP), MR, MH, SR, RS, MTM, OH, MM (RIP),  SGS.  MC,  EH,  MAC, NDM,  JG, SL, JD, 

Friday:   AJ,  MLJ,  SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP,  GRJP,  JF, IC, RF,  JC,  LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG,  GC, AW,  DM,  MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP)

Thursday:   AJ,  MLJ,  SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP,  GRJP,  JF, IC, RF,  JC,  LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG,  GC, AW,  DM,  MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP)SS, BK, JKBP, CP, PP, BW, HT (RIP), SL, AW, DM, MM, PM, LH, TN, SF, SC, FM, T&TT, AR, HF, RF, JM, R&B, MC, MD,

Wednesday:   BH, SGS, JJHB, SJB, BB, MD, MB,  JT,  RF,  SS,  SS,  PB,  SD,  JR,  SQ,  JL, MCSM,  PR,  MJ,  MD,  

Tuesday:   SM,  PR,  MJ,  MD, 

 

 

LECTIO DIVINA FOR MONDAY OF EASTER WEEK V (11 May 2020)

The Lectio and Pray to Sleep recordings have been much more popular than I imagined so over the next few weeks I will try to improve the quality of these by getting some real recording hardware. Watch this space and thanks for coping with the low quality at the moment.  

Pictures received of any churches that have been significant in your faith journey will be included as the images on the daily Lectio Divina links. Send to john@fff.org.nz.

Today’s church:   Thank you Kent for sending this photo with the comment “this is where my road to conversion started, the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the statue of St Francis.” 

Monday Easter Week V (15 minutes)

Monday Easter Week V  (25 minutes)

 

6 Responses to "in human form"
  1. Good morning father, I too really enjoyed watching the movie “Molokai” yesterday. Damien was amazing and I believe showed many good intentions through his incredible faith. Thank you for sharing. I too may watch it again. God bless

  2. It is helpful to see the petitions of people each day. Makes me know how blest I am. Prayers for all, God Bless

  3. Fr John, Thank you for the constant banquet of spiritual thinking and contemplation’s that you are providing ! Sometimes I come here for help for myself and find the comfort sort, other times I leave realising how lucky I am. As above, God Bless all.

  4. Thanks John, Your “punchline” in a homily I heard in a sermon many years ago, came to me a few days ago after a lovely reflection time and then for your mention of it yesterday came to reinforce.!
    God Bless

  5. I’ve only just watched the movie Damien and have found it both awe inspiring and challenging. Thank you Father John for giving this gem to us.

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