Message from Fr. Damian Flanagan

St. Mary Magdalen Church

I love what Moses says to the young man who was scandalized that the two stray men received the Holy Spirit, but not in the "planned" way. I love that Jesus has the same response when his disciples are upset that someone else - who isn't a "regular" follower - was driving out demons in Jesus' name. That's the first grace of these readings for me, for us all.

God's grace and God's gifts don't always come in the pathways we always expect. It is an unfortunately natural, jealous reaction in us that resents that someone isn't a follower of Jesus "the right way." And, we miss the grace, the presence of the Lord working in that person, through that person, because it isn't happening the "approved way."

We can too often easily condemn others - whether they are bad sinners or just people who don't seem to be "following the rules." Jesus sees the presence of the Spirit, where we might not. So, we can be encouraged to look more deeply for the effects of the Spirit's working, rather than the externals. Each of us can discover ways we do this.

The easiest way to begin that journey is for us to recognize the problem.

From there, we can ask for forgiveness and healing. And, asking for healing can lead us to identify what instincts, practices and habits I can change. Change is difficult. We only change something which has become habitual when we arrive at a deeper desire for something else. Otherwise, it is so easy to deny we have a problem - even when we know we aren't happy. When we experience God's love and mercy filling our heart with gratitude, then we can want to be closer to the one who loves us. Being closer to Jesus leads us to want to be more like Jesus. Gradually, his love heals the wounds and the brokenness and helps make our heart like his.

Fr. Damian Flanagan