Summer picnics and family get-togethers, walks in the park and at Canalside, ice cream and lemonade, parish festivals, and taking time to enjoy the sunset over Lake Erie - all are hallmarks of the season in Western New York. Undoubtedly, the deep refreshment and relaxation of summer are things for which everyone yearns. With the waning days of this precious season soon approaching, and in the heart of our "ordinary time" in the Church, the Sunday Gospels of August give us pause to consider our faith as a source of refreshment.
As people of faith, we are refreshed in Word and Sacrament. This is evident in the unfolding Gospel of Matthew. In a time of deep prayer with Peter, James and John, Jesus is transfigured. In this moment, He shows the apostles and disciples of all time who He really is in His glorified body, and He promises this glory to those who follow Him.
During a fishing excursion, Jesus appears to the apostles and calms the storm, calling them to let go of their fear and put their faith in Him. Jesus heals the Canaanite woman, and frees her from the burden of her pain, and He reminds His listeners that just as our heavenly Father cares for the sparrows, so does He care for us.
Collectively, these summer Gospels remind us that God's manifold love in Jesus can touch our spirit just as it touched his earliest followers. If we place these words alongside Jesus' revelation of Himself as the "bread of life" and the "living water," we touch into His desire to strengthen, satisfy and ultimately revitalize our human lives with His divine life.
In Sacred Scripture, there are subtle reminders that Jesus Christ is true refreshment for our souls. He eases fears, and calms life's greatest storms. His promise to those who love and follow Him is nothing short of union with Him in a place that is glorious beyond our imaginings. In the beauty of summer, we can be touched by the magnificence of God in nature.
In the midst of busy lives and busy vacations, Jesus is present, waiting for us to seek Him out so that He can bring us spiritual refreshment. As summer fast draws to a conclusion, His invitation is there for us: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." In Jesus is the true peace and rest that we seek.
Summer gives everyone an opportunity to "unplug" and recharge. It is common for people to come back from their vacations more exhausted than when they left. Take time to watch the sunset or enjoy the refreshing taste of an ice cream cone. During the final days of summer, let's plan to "plug into" Christ and His love for us, so that we can be deeply revitalized for all that we are and all that we do.