Sunday, August 26
By Father Tom Hurley
Before coming to Old St. Patrick’s I spent six years serving at the college seminary affiliated with Loyola University. My main responsibility was vocation ministry and admissions. I recall many visits to our catholic high schools here in the Chicago area as I tried my best to share with countless students the joy and excitement I felt in my heart for the vocation to priestly life. As part of my classroom presentation I shared my vocation story and how it all began for me as a young child who grew up in a typically Catholic household which was located directly across the street from my parish church and school. Part of my story also included the loss of two siblings, a tough chapter of my life which I have shared many times with the people of Old St. Pat’s throughout the years. I remember one time being in a classroom at Mt. Carmel High School and after I spoke a student threw me a total curve ball question which stopped me in my tracks. “Father,” he said, “if you experienced so much suffering by losing a brother and sister, why do you stay as a person of faith? And how do you keep on believing in the goodness of God?” I was dumbfounded by such a powerful question.
Standing somewhat speechless for a moment, I remember my response I gave to him. “Well, you’re right. We have lost a lot. But If I give up on God, then what else do I have? To whom then can I turn?”
Even though the Bread of Life discourse has occupied our liturgical gospels these past several weeks of August, today’s continuation of that text packs a significant challenge, one reminding me of the student in that classroom many years ago. Many of those first disciples gave up on Jesus and walked away because they couldn’t put their head around his language and his ideas. But Peter, in one of his shining moments, boldly proclaimed: to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting Life! You are the Holy One of God!
We lose. We get burned. We become bewildered and angry. We bring hurt upon others. May the words of Peter remind us again of God’s faithfulness to us. Though at times we’d love to run away, may the energy of God keep pulling us back and allow us to feel the presence of the One who is with us always, no matter what.
Prayers for healing and peace in our troubled times.
Father Tom Hurley