“God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I am has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).
Last week, we experienced the untimely passing of a gifted priest, Fr. Michael Hull. While I didn’t know him personally, I was blessed to hear many of his brief homilies at morning Mass, at St. Mary of the Hill Catholic Church. Fr. Hull came from a unique background, having been a priest of the Eastern Rite Catholic Church, while also celebrating Mass in the Roman Rite, which is much more prevalent in the United States. Father assisted at St. Mary’s while pastoring a much smaller parish, St. Ignatios of Antioch Melkite Catholic Church in Augusta.
His homilies always began with the greeting “Good morning saints!” Father Hull had a deep knowledge of Scripture and was a “reporter” of events, such as such as those leading up to Christ’s crucifixion during Lent. For example, he spoke about the headquarters of “Jesus and Company” based in Capernaum, and gave his own context to the turmoil that Jesus caused among religious and secular officials, who tried unsuccessfully to outsmart the Son of Man. He pointed out the role of the many women who accompanied and supported Jesus and the expanding group of disciples, having courage to stand fast with Jesus, particularly at Calvary.
Father understood the heavy toll of being a believer in certain parts of the world. During Mass, he always asked for prayers for “persecuted Christians” mostly in the Middle East and China.
The gift of knowledge was given in spades to another priest, Thomas Aquinas, who was a philosopher, teacher, theologian, and of course, a saint. His image was selected for the stained-glass window at St. Mary’s under “Knowledge”. Aquinas was an Italian Dominican friar who lived from 1225 to 1274. His lifetime body of work dealt with weighty topics, covering the underlying theological principles of reason, and defending the existence of God. His writings, including the famous Summa Theologica, have been widely studies and debated through the centuries.
One concept I find intriguing is encapsulated in the words God spoke to Moses, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). While God created the universe, God has no beginning and didn’t rely on any “big bang” to propel Him into existence. In Summa, Aquinas wrote “His (God’s) essence is His existence”. It is the essence of God, “I am”, which lives with each of us in every moment of every day. Focusing on living in the moment allows to experience the love of God and being open to God’s direction and purpose for our lives. To allow distractions from past events or future worries in get in the way, robs us from experiencing the true essence of God, “I am”.
Have a Blessed Day!