Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass with the St. Paul Newman Center community in Laramie, followed by Evening Prayer with about 80 members of the UW faculty, staff, and their spouses. After Evening Prayer, there was a nice social gathering. It is a great way to begin a new academic year on campus. I felt very much like a pastor in this setting this evening.
For Mass, we reflected on the Gospel (Matthew 23:27-32). Jesus is calling the scribes and Pharisees to task for their hypocrisy. He tells them that they appear on the outside to be good, but on the inside are full of fill and death. In other words, the challenge for us is to work on our interior disposition.
St. Paul was speaking of this in the first reading in the second Letter to the Thessalonians (3:6-10;16-18). May the LORD of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The LORD be with all of you. This is the interior “Peace” we are to cultivate.
How many of us wake up to alarms or radios or the first thing we do is turn on the TV or go to the computer to check emails and the latest headlines? How many of us are aware of the rising of the sun, the Dawn from on High who comes to greet us with His peace? Do we take time for quiet? for prayer? for recreation? and in all of this deepen our relationship with Christ who comes with His word to strengthen us and with his grace and mercy to redeem and restore us?
At times, we need to be very conscious about our relationship with Christ. The beginning of a new academic year is a perfect time to put Christ at the center of the calendar of each day, and to make Christ my priority so that I may live in His peace at all times, in every way.
Evening Prayer with the faculty and staff gave another piece of Scripture for thought: James 1:22-25. Be doers of the WORD. The encouragement for the faculty and staff was to see how they are to bring Christ to their ministry. To serve each student as if he or she is Christ. To be doers of the WORD is to acknowledge that Christ has taken up His dwelling in each of us, and is longing to speak and act through us for the well-being of others.
Perhaps you are just getting back into some sense of routine in your own life after a summer break. Let’s all renew our commitment to put Christ first. To be Christ for others. To serve Christ in others. To cultivate His Spirit of Peace!