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A few months ago I got together for dinner with a friend. During our dinner conversation he told me that on a recent trip to the East coast, he had seen GOD’S truck on the highway. Since I am not one to be easily taken in, I asked him what he meant. He said that while he was driving to the East Coast to visit some relatives and friends, in the distance ahead he saw a truck with the word G O D written in large letters across its back doors. He went on to say that as he got closer to the truck he realized that it wasn’t really GOD’S truck after all. Rather it was a truck with very large lettering that announced: Guaranteed Overnight Delivery. As he told this story we both had a good laugh. I then suggested that he get his eyes checked relatively soon. 

As I reflected on my friend’s encounter with GOD’S truck, it occurred to me that perhaps there was a message in this experience. Specifically, it struck me that for most of us when we pray to God we often expect “Guaranteed Overnight Delivery” in response to our prayers. We expect God to hear our prayers, to understand the wisdom, goodness, and unselfishness behind them, and then to respond to them completely, swiftly, and preferably overnight. The reality is, though, that God doesn’t operate according to our timeline and/or agenda.

 Certainly this can be frustrating and it can cause people to wonder why many times their best and most unselfish prayers go unanswered. In some cases people can begin to wonder if they aren’t saying the right prayers, or if they aren’t praying hard enough, or if they just aren’t holy enough. Sadly, for some people, it can even cause them to give up on prayer all together. 

The reality is, though, that it is fairly presumptuous of us to expect that God’s response to our prayers should take the form of “Guaranteed Overnight Delivery.” God is not under any obligation to respond to our prayers according to our timeline and in exactly the manner we want. This doesn’t mean, though, that God doesn’t respond to our prayers. 

More times than I can count I have realized (most often in retrospect) that God had responded to my prayers, but in ways I hadn’t imagined or in ways I hadn’t been open to at the time. Often times too, instead of doing things for me, I have discovered that God has given me the strength, the courage, ability, and the grace to do something I had been praying and asking God to do. 

God never promised Guaranteed Overnight Delivery in response to our prayers. If we can pray with open hearts and minds, though, and if we can trust and believe that God does indeed hear and respond to our prayers, we will discover that God has responded to our prayers. This response may not occur in the way we had wanted or hoped, but most certainly in the way we need.

Visitors to the studio and gallery of Sister Mary Ann Osborne, SSND are surrounded by stories carved in wood or printed on paper. There stories are taken from Scripture and inspired by feast days such as the Annunciation, Epiphany and Pentecost. They draw viewers in and invite them to discover their own stories.

The work of Sister Mary Ann is also inspired by conversations, writings and music, old and new. Her art at times comments on local and international events, peace and justice issues and acts of nature, like the tornado that devastated her home town of Saint Peter, MN, in 1998.

Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger, foundress of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) has been a major influence on Sister Mary Ann's work. The art she created for With Passion, her 2015 exhibition at The Basilica, was inspired by quotes from Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger and Pope Francis. An exhibition she conceived for Saint Paul Monastery in Saint Paul, MN a few years ago was entitled Love Cannot Wait. Sister Mary Ann borrowed this title from1882 writings by Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger. An imagined diary of the foundress accompanies the art. The work is now rotated monthly in a space near the Monastery's Good Counsel chapel.

 

Sister Mary Ann Osborne Art Studio

Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger' influence on Sr. Mary Ann actually goes back to the very beginning of her art making as her first carvings (1985) were created to honor the SSND foundress on the occasion of her beatification. At that time Sister Mary Ann had taken only two summer workshops in wood carving, for a total of three weeks. After thirteen years of teaching in elementary schools in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa, Sister Mary Ann felt her future had a different path. She loved the students and enjoyed teaching but she felt called to teach in a new way. She was given permission to study and work as an apprentice with a wood carver in Faribault, MN. The original agreement was for one year, then followed by a second year. By 1988 she was a full-time artist, with her first studio space at Our Lady of Good Counsel. A couple years later she pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Metropolitan State University and studied for six months with Franciscan Sister Sigmunda May in Stuttgart, Germany.

The artist spends most of her days working in her sunny studio, a former laundry where she moved in 2004. Sometimes she will sketch ideas on paper, but she prefers to start with the wood, carving soon after some initial drawing directly on the surface. She usually begins with the faces. When studying with Sister Sigmunda she was encouraged to follow her heart, listen to God and let the characteristics of the wood guide her process. For carvings she typically uses kiln dried wood, bass or linden. The embellishments she adds to her wood sculptures often have their own stories. She has repurposed arches and copper from buildings under renovation. And people often drop off items they think she may be able to use; parts of a beautiful broken vase, pieces of glass or silver, or small logs from a beaver dam. Eventually these items find their way into a piece of art.

Sister Mary Ann has admired and been inspired by other artists including her teacher Sister Sigmunda May, Corita Kent, Henry Moore, Joseph O'Connell, Ernst Barlach and Käthe Kollwitz. Her work can be found around the world in churches, schools, hospitals and homes. In addition to wood carving, she does woodcut prints and works with glass.

 

Sister Mary Ann Osborne

The Basilica selected her piece One Breath from our art collection to visually represent the Revolution of Love and Tenderness initiatives this year.  The piece of art was selected given its heart shape reference embracing the people of the world with love and tenderness and will be displayed in The Basilica throughout the year. Sister Mary Ann shares the meaning as, “Through the spirit we must work together sharing love and tenderness, to make the world a better place. All it takes is one breath of God in our direction.”

It is good to keep in mind that Love Cannot Wait has been the directional statement for the School Sisters of Notre Dame for the past five years. The statement commits this international congregation of women religious to embrace dialogue as a way of life that leads to new discoveries about themselves and others, and to conversion, reconciliation and healing. It is a call to change lives and the world. Sr. Mary Ann does this beautifully through her art.

 

Sister Mary Ann’s studio is located in Florian Hall at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mankato. She welcomes visitors.  sistermaryannosborne.com  

 

By Kathy Dhaemers, Associate Director of Sacred Arts

Published BASILICA Magazine Spring 2017, A Revolution of Love and Tenderness

 

For the readings for this Sunday click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061117.cfm   

Three = One.   Huh?   

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.   This Feast celebrates the ONE God who has revealed God’s Self as Creating Father, Redeeming Son, and Sanctifying Spirit.    The Preface for this feast (The Preface is that part of the Mass that leads into the Holy, Holy, Holy.) declares:  “For what you have revealed to us of  your glory we believe equally of your  Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  

Our readings this Sunday speak of the relationship of humans with God, beginning with the Israelite people.   In the first reading from the book of Exodus, Moses on Mount Sinai encounters God.   We are told that God passed before him and cried out:  "The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindess and fidelity."  

In our second reading this weekend, from the letter to the Corinthians,  Paul states our Trinitarian belief succinctly: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God , and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you."   

Finally in our Gospel reading we are reminded that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might  not perish, but might have eternal life."   

All three of our readings for this Feast remind us that the God we worship today is the same God who chose the Israelites, who was fully revealed to us by Jesus Christ, and who continues to abide with each of us and with our Church today.   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. I think sometimes the Trinity is perhaps best grasped through analogy, rather than through theological language.   So think of your mother.   To you she is mother; to her mother she is/was daughter; to her husband she is/was wife.   She is one and the same person, yet viewed in different ways at different times.    What analogy has helped (or still helps) you to understand the Trinity?
  2. We often use words to describe the different Persons in the Godhead.  What words would you use to help distinguish the different Persons in the Triune Godhead?    Hint:  some people use Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.  
  3. What do you think is the biggest stumbling block to belief in a Triune God? 

After opening at the Vatican Museum in Rome, this unique Swiss Guard exhibit has appeared in only three US cities: Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington DC, and makes its last US stop in Minneapolis at The Basilica from June 3-July 30. 

Why stop at The Basilica in Minneapolis? In addition to his Basilica responsibilities, Director of Liturgy and Sacred Arts Johan van Parys chairs the local chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums. The Patrons’ mission is to promote, protect, and restore the art and artifacts of the Vatican Museums. With over 6 million visitors annually and one of the largest collections in the world, the Vatican Museums reach out to make their collection available to those who can’t travel to Rome. 

We are blessed with this unique opportunity to have the Vatican Museums come to us. Long time Patrons members, Jack and Cathy Farrell and Lydie and Jacques Stassarts helped sponsor the exhibit. The Basilica is doing its part by offering exhibit space in the church, St. John XXII Gallery, and Teresa of Calcutta Hall in The Basilica’s lower level. 

Vatican exhibit curator Romina Cometti is on hand to supervise the installation. While the truck has arrived, Johan van Parys shared his excitement to finally see items only viewed in the Exhibit Catalogue by saying, “While many of us know the colorful Swiss Guard uniforms, this exhibit takes us behind the scenes for an insider’s view into the lives of these young Catholic men who dedicate at least two years to protect the Pope.” 

Johan explained that this exhibit grew out of a one time shoot by photographer Fabio Mantegna, well renowned in Italy. Mantegna received permission for an extended behind the scenes photo shoot. His incredible photographs show these young men during their training, at prayer, working out, receiving their uniforms, and joining the Swiss Guard. 

Over 80 stunning photographs serve as the exhibit’s centerpiece and could stand alone, but much more is on display. Romina Cometti interviewed the young men about why they’ve chosen to join the Swiss Guard. Quotes from her interviews accompany the photos, and the exhibit also includes artifacts from the Swiss Guards 500 year history like uniforms and security gadgets. 

Founded in 1506 by Pope Julius II, best known for commissioning the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo, the Swiss Guard was given the express mission of protecting the Pope and the Vatican. Their historic multi-colored uniforms may distract from the seriousness of the Swiss Guards’ responsibilities. Early in the Guards history on May 6, 1527, the army of the Holy Roman Empire sacked Rome and two-thirds of the Guards were massacred defending the Pope. Succeeding in their mission, Pope Clement VII escaped with his life to Castel Sant’Angelo just outside the Vatican walls.

Today, new Swiss Guards are sworn in on May 6 to commemorate those Guards who lost their lives protecting the Pope.

THE LIFE OF A SWISS GUARD: A PRIVATE VIEW 
EXHIBIT: JUNE 3-JULY 30
RECEPTION & TALK: SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 1:00PM

Swiss Guard Exhibit Hours: Open weekends, or tours by appointment. Tours of the exhibit are not available until noon, Monday through Thursday. Tours available morning and afternoon on Fridays.

Register online at mary.org for a tour or call 612.317.3410. Exhibit catalogues will be on sale, along with a wonderful Swiss Guard cookbook which includes favorite recipes of the Guards as well as favorites of our recent Popes. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/060417-day-mass.cfm 

This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost.  Along with Christmas and Easter, Pentecost  is really the third great Feast of our Church year.  Unfortunately, coming as it does at the beginning of summer, Pentecost doesn’t get nearly the attention that Christmas and Easter do.   And yet Pentecost, because it celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church, is very important.   

If we are honest, I think another reason why Pentecost doesn’t get the attention it deserves is that the Holy Spirit is the least understood member of the Trinity.   In fact, when I was growing up the Holy Spirit was referred to as the Holy Ghost.   And if you think understanding the Holy Spirit is difficult, you can only imagine what it was like for a teacher to explain the Holy Ghost.   And yet, the work of the Spirit is experienced in a variety of ways both in our Church and in our individual lives.   In this regard some of the words we use to speak of the work the Spirit are:  Animator, Counselor, Advocate, Guide, and Comforter.   We also speak of the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit.   While we may not have the precise clarity of understanding we would like in regard to the Holy Spirit, what is clear is that the work of the Holy Spirit is essential to our Church and our individual lives.  

Our readings for this weekend speak clearly of the work of the Spirit.   Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us of the very first Pentecost.    The gift of tongues, so that all people could hear of the “mighty acts of God” in their own language, reverses the “babel” that resulted when the people in Genesis tried to build a tower to the heavens.   The Gospel reading recounts the gift of the Holy Spirit to the first disciples.   And the Second reading from Corinthians reminds us that there are “different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. How would you describe the Holy Spirit to someone who didn’t come from a Christian background?
  2. How have you felt the Spirit working in your life?
  3. What gifts of the Spirit have you been given?

In a few weeks, from June 18 - June 22, the priests of our Archdiocese will gather at the Kahler Hotel in Rochester for our biennial Presbyteral Assembly. Every other year, for many years now our Archbishops have asked the priests of our Archdiocese to set aside their parish or institutional responsibilities and gather together for a few days to talk about some specific areas of our lives/ministries. This year the various speakers will focus on the Spirituality of the Diocesan Priesthood; Priestly Fraternity; and Affective Maturity. (I’m not at all sure what that last topic means.)

These gatherings are good and important. As priests, we gather in all our diversity and with all our differences, and spend time together in fraternity. During our time together we are well aware of the things that unite us as well as those things about which we disagree. And often times the things about which we disagree are brought up in very public ways. In fact, in the years I have been attending these assemblies, I have often been reminded of an old Phyllis Diller line from many years ago: “Never go to bed angry. Stay up and fight.”

We priests are very much like most other Catholics. We don’t always agree with each other. In fact, if the truth be told, we differ; we disagree; and sometimes we argue. But through it all we stay together. We don’t walk away from each other. I believe the reason for this is that we realize that, at root, the things that unite us are more important than the things that might divide us.

Disagreement and tension have always been a part of the life of our Church. In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul fought with Peter over the issue of Gentile converts. Moreover, through the centuries, disagreement and dissension have been part of more than one Council and/or Conclave. Yet through it all our Church not only has survived; it has thrived. I think the reason for this is twofold.

First, we believe that the Spirit of God has guided and continues to guide our Church. And with the guidance of the Spirit comes the promise and gift of Indefectibility. The gift of Indefectibility tells us that because the Holy Spirit leads and guides our Church, the Church cannot and will not deviate fundamentally from the truth of the Gospel, from the Mission of the Church, or from the Life of Faith. The guidance of the Holy Spirit ensures that despite disagreements that might arise, despite any appearance of division, our Church cannot deviate in fundamental and essential ways from the Gospel, the Mission that Christ entrusted to it, or from the Life of Faith.

The second thing that has ensured that our Church has thrived through the centuries is the grace of God poured out on the Church as a whole, and upon each individual member. I am more and more convinced that God’s grace has enabled and continues to enable us to identify, to discuss, to work through, and/or accept the differences and disagreements that exist within our Church. It is the grace of God that allows us to see beyond the differences that would divide us, to the many and foundational things that unite us. Our Church, both locally, as well as internationally, is very diverse. But diversity does not necessarily need to lead to division. Nor does diversity mean that we can’t stand on the common ground that is foundational for us and that ultimately unites us with God.

“Big God, Big Church” is a phrase that is really a mantra for me. It reminds me that the embrace of our Church cannot be anything less that the embrace of our God’s love. Occasionally all of us—even priests—need to be reminded of this fact. The things that unite us are far more important than the things about which we might differ or disagree. The challenge for all of us is to rely a little more on God’s grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and a little less on our own ideas and biases. As followers of the Lord Jesus this must always be our hope and our goal.

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser: https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052817-ascension.cfm   

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven.   When I was pastor of a parish with a school I loved celebrating Mass with children on this day.   After the Gospel I would stand in front of the altar and stare up at the ceiling.  Within a few seconds every child in the place would also be staring at the ceiling.   After about a minute of this, I would tell them that they were dong the exactly the same thing Jesus’ disciples did when Jesus ascended into heaven.   

We read of Jesus’ Ascension in our first reading this weekend which is taken from the Acts of the Apostles.  In that reading we are told that when Jesus gathered with his disciples for the last time after his resurrection he told them: “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’  When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.  While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.  They said ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?’ This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”   

Our Gospel reading this weekend contains the final verses of Matthew’s Gospel.  In it Jesus commands his disciples to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit………”  Jesus also reminded his disciples, that “behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”   

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians.   In it Paul prays that the “eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Sometimes I am like the disciples.  I stare off into the heavens looking for Jesus, and forget his promise to be with us always, until the end of the age.   Is this true for you as well? 
  2. How are you called to give witness to Jesus in your life?
  3. How would you explain to someone our belief that Christ is both in heaven and yet with us here on earth?   

As a vibrant co-cathedral parish with almost 6,500 families and one priest, we rely on additional priests to assist with the six masses held every weekend. Meet three of The Basilica’s newer weekend presiders.

 

Fr. John Berger

Fr John Berger

Originally from North Dakota, Fr. John Berger moved west and was ordained for the Diocese of Honolulu in 1991. He served as Rector at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu until 2013, when he suffered a dama

ging heart attack and blood clot. He received a medical retirement from that diocese and relocated to the Twin Cities to be near to his sisters.

Fr. Berger has always been drawn to helping people, and enjoys the unique opportunity afforded to parish priests to restore people's ability to participate fully in the life and liturgy of the Church.  Through ministry and his own personal challenges, he understands how “the experiences of human frailty and disappointment can actually become opportunities for growth and, by the grace of God, segues to new perspectives and a renewed purpose.”

He occasionally attended The Basilica over the years during visits with his sisters, and got to know Fr. John Bauer through the bi-annual Cathedral Ministry Conference. Fr. Berger enjoys presiding at weekday and weekend Masses. “Though my time here has been relatively short,” he shares, “I have been glad to get to know parishioners, and to do what we in Hawaii call ‘talk story.’”

 

 

Fr. Peter Brandenhoff

Fr. Peter Brandenhoff

Growing up in Duluth and then Fairmont, MN, St. John Vianney parish and school was a central part of Fr. Peter Brandenhoff’s life. It was there that his love of the liturgy grew as an altar server and budding organist. During his sophomore year of high school, a Rochester Franciscan sister gave him a rosary with the instruction: take this to the seminary with you. ”I still have that rosary,” he shares. “God truly does drop hints at unexpected moments.”

Fr. Brandenhoff was ordained for the Diocese of Winona and served as pastor for a number of parishes. IN addition he served as director of the diocesan Office of Liturgy and the Commission on Sacred Liturgy, as chaplain, and as a high school religion teacher. He later received a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Minnesota and worked in a metro area psychotherapy clinic for 18 years. He also served several churches in this Archdiocese as a weekend presider.

“The liturgy has been the highlight and greatest love of my ministry,” Brandenhoff says. “Being a weekend presider at The Basilica of Saint Mary is pure joy because the highest priority is given to the celebration of the liturgy, so beautifully enhanced by the sacred arts and the lively participation of the community.”

In his free time, Fr. Brandenhoff enjoys baking bread, cooking, and outdoor activities including camping, biking, cross-country skiing, and kayaking. He also is taking piano lessons and enjoys playing Scrabble.    

 

 

Fr. Harry Tasto

Fr. Harry Tasto


Fr. Harry Tasto grew up on a western Minnesota farm near the South Dakota border. He was interested in building and architecture, but his parish priest (and the diocesan Vocations Director) was insistent that Harry go to the seminary.

His father’s cousin was the Bishop of Superior, WI, and Fr. Tasto was ordained in the parish church that had served three generations of his family. At his ordination almost 50 years ago, he invited the pastors from the seven Protestant churches to join in the procession with their spouses. One month later they formed a ministerial association, which still continues today.
Fr. Tasto came to the Twin Cities and earned graduate degrees in Speech and Education from the University of Minnesota. He also completed a doctorate in Communications and Preaching. While in graduate school, he worked at parishes in this Archdiocese and transferred to this Presbytery 36 years ago. He served as pastor at a number of parishes, including St. Timothy’s in Blaine for sixteen years.

Known as a man of a million hobbies, Fr. Tasto enjoys woodworking, home remodeling, vegetable and flower gardening, cooking, and baking, honing these skills over the years. He is also a Harley rider and avid bicyclist who has been bicycling around the world in almost twenty different countries. These international trips can average about 40 miles of bicycling per day.

He retired from active ministry almost four years ago and started presiding at the Monday and Tuesday noon Masses at The Basilica. Last fall, Fr. Tasto began helping as a weekend presider. “I am enjoying my ministry here,” Tasto shares, “and am grateful for the welcome and acceptance I’ve received. I hope that I may be here for years yet to come!”

 

By Melissa Streit, BASILICA Magazine Editor

Published BASILICA Magazine Spring 2017, A Revolution of Love and Tenderness

 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052117.cfm 
  
“Do you love me?”   That Tevye’s question to Golde in Fiddler on the Roof.   I suspect most of us have asked (or thought of asking) this question at some point in our lives.    In our Gospel today, though, Jesus didn’t pose this question.   He was more direct.  At the beginning of this Gospel he said:   “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  And toward the end of the Gospel he said:  “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.”   

In Fiddler on the Roof Golde replied to Tevye’s question by saying:  “For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him.  Fought him.  Starved with him.  Twenty-five years my bed is his.  If that’s not love, what is?”    For Golde love was shown in actions, not words.   Jesus asks this same thing of those who would be his followers.   We show we are his disciples by keeping his commandments.   And Jesus commandments are clear.  We are called to love God with our whole heart and soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.   For Jesus, love is a verb, not a noun.   It is an action more than an emotion.  

Our first reading this weekend is again taken from the Acts of the Apostles.    In it Philip proclaimed Jesus Christ to the city of Samaria.   After they had accepted the word of God, Peter and John were sent to them to pray for them that they might “receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them.”   The gift of the Spirit signifies unity with the apostles and the other early Christian communities.  

Our second reading this weekend is from the first Letter of Saint Peter.  In it Peter challenges us to “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you, for a reason for your hope.”    

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1. What are some concrete and specific ways we can show our love for God and our neighbor?   
2.  In what concrete and specific ways have you experienced God’s love?
3.  If someone were to ask you, what reason would you give for your hope?  

A few weeks ago the Gospel reading at daily Mass was John’s account of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. In John’s version we are told that Jesus fed five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish. We are told further that after everyone had their fill, Jesus told his disciples: “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted. So they collected them and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.” (Jn. 6:12b-13) 

The story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish is the only miracle story that is found in all four Gospels. And while the details differ slightly in each account, there is at least one element that is common to all of them. In each Gospel, after the crowd had been fed, there were fragments left over that filled several wicker baskets. For some reason this detail caught my attention, so I spent some time reflecting on it. As part of my reflection, two things occurred to me. 1) When God is involved there is always an abundance; and 2) When God is involved nothing is insignificant or lost. I think both of these are important. 

Often in our world today and especially in our culture, people live with an attitude of scarcity. We wonder whether there will be enough of “whatever” to go around, and so we cling tightly to our “stuff” because we fear there won’t be enough or that we might run out. This can lead us to hold tightly to certain things because we worry they might become a scarce commodity, and if we let go of them, there might not be enough if/when we need whatever it might be. 

In regard to God’s love and grace, though, there is always an abundance. We never have to worry that there won’t be enough, or that someone else will get our share. God’s love and grace are not limited commodities. Since God is love and God is also infinite, it stands to reason that there is an infinite amount of God’s love and grace to go around. With God there is always an abundance. We need never fear that there is a limited supply of God’s grace and love. 

As importantly, though, when God is involved nothing is ever lost or too small to be of significance. We know this because God has told us: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget; I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name;” (Is 49:15-16) These words remind us that God’s love is so abundant that no one is ever beyond the reach of that love, or too insignificant or unimportant to be loved. God loves us even if/when we don’t love God. No one and nothing is ever lost to God. 

Too often, either consciously or unconsciously, we can believe that we are too insignificant to be known and loved by God. Jesus’ concern, though, that the fragments of barley loaves and fish be gathered up, reminds us that nothing escapes God’s notice and no one is ever lost to God. Such is God’s love. It is abundant beyond belief, and because of this, no one is ever beyond the reach of that love. 

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