Reflection for the Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

 I am sure that each of us has his or her own memory of the Operation Desert Shields/ Desert Storm. Each of us knew someone” over there ” Perhaps a very close relative was assigned to the Operation in Southwest Asia during 1990. We have all been touched by the reception of our people coming back from Southwest Asia. We all know that there are still problems to be worked out, but that, hopefully, with God’s help, the true lasting peace will be accomplished.
               One of the most poignant scenes of the entire Operation took place sometime on Saturday, February 23rd. The fact was reported throughout the world via a photograph which appeared in the newspapers of the 25th and 26 tag of February. In the photo, sent, taken, and transmitted by the Associated Press, an unnamed Army Chaplain from the 101 st Airborne Division, was celebrated Mass and the caption read,” Near the Saudi- Kuwaiti border Saturday, just before the United States led coalition began its ground offensive to liberate Kuwait. “
        The altar consisted of several cases of” Meal Ready to Eat, ” the infamous ” MRE’s ” of the desert. The men were gathered around the priest, some kneeling, some standing, some reading out of a missalette, and others just to their own thoughts. The priest, whose only vestment was a stole, was attired in desert camouflage with his gas mask ready, just in case.
      While liturgical laws, perhaps, being violated , I am sure that the men who attend that Mass , as well as the celebrant, were probably more aware than ever of the need of the Lord to Be with them as strength for the journey. They realized, as perhaps did Elijah in today’s reading, that, after a “day’s journey into the desert,” they needed the strength that would come from knowing that the Lord was truly with them as assisting them as they carried out their governmental mission.
      For most of us, the battles that we face are nowhere near the difficulties faced by the soldiers . However, we all have battles with electric bills, air conditioning going out, viruses.. sickness…,we all have the same sort of need for Jesus to be present with us throughout our own journey just as the soldiers did in Operation Desert Storm. We are all called to come to a knowledge of the journey of Jesus, our true and living bread, to be with us always.
      We need Jesus to be our strength for the journey. We need the Eucharistic meal , if not daily, certainly more than just going through the motions on Sunday, so that the journey might be easier
       Did all the soldiers in the A.P. picture survive? We do not know. Nor will we probably ever know. But one thing I sure, before they went into battle. They knew that the Lord Jesus was with them.
Each of us has some type of battle every day. May we continue to have strength for the journey , calling upon the Lord Jesus to be with us as we we seek him in our lives and undertakings. He is with us, May he continue to journey with us, as he gives us true and lasting strength, now and always.
God bless you all !
Fr. Dominic Tran
Your brother in Christ!

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