Bishop James P. Powers leads benediction during Eucharistic adoration at the February diocesan women’s retreat in Trego. In his homily, Bishop Powers thanked the women for “the gift you gave me of being a priest” and for being asked to celebrate the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation for retreatants. (Submitted photo)
Catholic Herald Staff
Writer’s note: The readings referenced are from 1 Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; and Luke 6:27-38.
Reflecting on the readings of the day, Bishop James P. Powers spoke to the more than 115 women participating in the 2022 Diocesan Women’s Retreat about seeing themselves as God’s anointed.
“Every one of us has been anointed at our baptism,” the bishop said. “Anointed with that sacred chrism, anointed as prophet, priest and kind in our own ways.”
Referring to young David’s decision not to harm King Saul, who had been pursuing him because he was the Lord’s anointed, Bishop Powers added that it’s not merely a matter of not harming someone else, but should extend to not doing harm to oneself – affirming each person as a temple of God, as St. Paul says in his letters.
“If we were to go around and share the name of a holy person, not many of us would use our own name,” the bishop continued. “That’s the vocation of each and every one of us – simply by virtue of our baptism, we are called to be a holy person.”
He acknowledged that hearing that call to holiness all too often it is interpreted as meant for someone else, someone else so high up on a pedestal. “We can’t do anything but stand in awe.” Bishop Powers also said he didn’t know many holy people, even canonized saints, who spent their entire lives with hands folded and eyes turned constantly toward heaven.
“They’re every bit as human as you and I are,” he said, “but we need to continue the journey of growth in holiness.”
The bishop spoke about how the concept of holiness can seem so foreign, especially when “church” is no more than some place where one hour a week is spent, with “the rest of our life” being “the rest of our life.”
“That’s not how we were created to be,” Bishop Powers asserted. “Holiness should be the most natural thing in our lives because we’re told that we are created in that image and likeness of God, created out of a community of love.”
“There’s not a one of us that isn’t a sinner,” the bishop added. “Our Lord didn’t just give us the Sacrament of Baptism and tell us to be good. He knows our weaknesses.
“Our God offers us that gift of reconciliation,” he related, then reflected on how confession was lived before and after the Second Vatican Council.
“Sadly, the Sacrament of Reconciliation kind of got lost in our lives,” the bishop said. “So many have cheated themselves out of that that great gift, that gift of God’s love.”
Bishop Powers called the Sacrament of Reconciliation a gift “that still does help our hearts receive the gift of the Eucharist,” even though easily months or years elapse between receptions of the sacrament.
“God doesn’t want us to come to him out of fear … but out of that love that he has for us, out of that love that we were created out of,” he added.
Continuing on, the bishop said that Lent is a beautiful gift given by God, in addition to parish fish fries.
It is “The gift of inviting us to step back a little bit … To step back and to allow God to touch our heart, our minds, our lives.”
He shared that professionals say at least one month is needed to change a habit.
“It is not by accident that Lent is a 40-day period. That opportunity to help us begin to change whatever it is in our life that our God is calling us to change – not just for those 40 days, but to make new habits that we carry in to the Easter season. To know more fully the love that God has for us,” he said.
The bishop’s concluding reflection was that “being holy isn’t rocket science,” although he acknowledged that “it might be algebra,” given that the forgiveness and mercy Jesus calls us to is not always easy.
“Be merciful as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged … on our own, we can’t do it,” he said, “But God never asks us to do it on our own; he never even wants us to try.”
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