July 13, 2024

Life as we all experience it is filled with ups and downs, joys and sorrows, good days and bad, life and death. As we make our journey on the pathway toward Holy Week and Easter, we are spiritually invited and can experience the fruitfulness of the ups and downs of this holy time of year.

With Jesus’ glorious entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and Holy Thursday when he instituted the holy Eucharist and priesthood, we experience the spiritual fruitfulness of God’s true goodness and the sacraments that flow from his love to provide for us until the end of time.

Good Friday enables us to experience the depths of God’s unconditional love by taking on our sins and the sins of the whole world to save us from our sins and the consequences of them. The Church reminds us of how personal is Jesus’ love for each of us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):

“Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony, and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us.” (CCC 478)

Take note, my good brothers and sisters, of these words of the catechism: Jesus knew and loved us each as he underwent his Passion and death. As he was dying on the cross, he was thinking of and loving me… and you. Oh, the wonders of divine love!

Consider, too, Jesus’ words on the cross that we hear on Good Friday: “I thirst” (John 19:28). As Mother Theresa has beautifully taught, Jesus here speaks not only of his physical thirst, but also of his spiritual thirst, his thirst for each one of us and our love. She wrote that this phrase of Jesus’ means, “not only he loves you, even more—he longs for you. He misses you when you don’t come close. He thirsts for you. He loves you always even when you don’t feel worthy. Even if you are not accepted by others, even by yourself sometimes—he is the one who always accepts you.”

And then, it is only in the long wait from Good Friday to the Easter Vigil that, through Jesus’ death, new life comes to fruition in his resurrection from the dead.

The important lesson for each of us is to remember that in the good times and bad, God is always with us and that our pathway to heaven will be filled with ups and downs, but the downs can be very fruitful for our own spiritual growth and that of others.

I hope you enjoy this month’s Bulletin on the Pathway of Discipleship, which helps us on our pathway to heaven. While our ups and downs may have different joys and sorrows, our journey and deepening friendship with God enables us to grow into our next stages of discipleship.

It is my hope and prayer that the remainder of this Lent, Holy Week and Easter will be filled with a lot of grace and blessing for everyone in our beloved diocese. May our hearts grow in the love of God so we in turn can love with a godly love (charity) as beloved disciples.

I truly am so blessed to be your bishop because our Lord has given me his great love for all of you!

In the love of God,

+ DeGrood