Fr. Dennis Chriszt, C.PP.S.

 

Our God is an awesome God,

who reigns from heaven above,

with wisdom, power and love,

our God is an awesome God!

 

 

God works wonders throughout history.

The prophet Jeremiah proclaims

to a people in exile:

Shout with joy for Jacob…

proclaim your praise…

The blind man in today’s gospel, Bartimaeus,

undoubtedly shouted for joy

and proclaimed God’s praise,

when his sight was restored.

 

Our God is an awesome God,

who reigns from heaven above…

 

A few days ago,

the Missionaries of the Precious Blood

celebrated the feast of St. Gaspar del Bufalo.

In some of the parishes staffed by the Missionaries,

the feast is being celebrated today.

 

The prophet Isaiah cried out to another people in exile:

Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry,

together they shout for joy…

And Jesus proclaims:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me

because he has anointed me…

 

Our God is an awesome God,

who reigns from heaven above…

 

Once, after founding the Missionaries,

St. Gaspar heard that the town of Sonnino was destined for destruction.

After the French had been driven from Italy,

the men of Sonnino took up a new trade.

They became bandits, attacking their fellow citizens,

and robbing them of their possessions.

When all attempts to get them to stop failed,

it was decreed that the town should be destroyed

and all its inhabitants who were unwilling to surrender

should be put to the sword.

 

Gaspar had a better plan.

He would preach the Good News of salvation.

When he discovered that most of the men

were hiding in the caves in the mountains surrounding the town,

he stood at the entrance to the caves and preached into the darkness.

The next morning, Gaspar found that the men had returned to their families,

and left their weapons in a pile near the place where Gaspar was staying.

His preaching saved the town.

The Word of God saved the town and its people.

 

Our God is an awesome God,

who reigns from heaven above…

 

Almost two hundred years later,

I was in Palestrina, Italy, not far from Sonnino.

One day, as I was walking through the town,

wearing the cassock and mission cross

of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood,

I was approached by the local barber,

who kissed the cross and then kissed my hands.

Then he said, “Grazie, grazie, filio de San Gaspare.”

which means, “Thanks you, thank you, son of St. Gaspar,”

and he told me that he had been born in Sonnino,

and that he would never forget.

The same thing happened several more times while I was there.

 

People born in Sonnino were kissing my hands

because of what God had done through the preaching of St. Gaspar.

 

Our God is an awesome God,

who reigns from heaven above,

with wisdom, power and love,

our God is an awesome God!

 

Today, whether our parish is celebrating

the solemnity of St. Gaspar

or the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time,

we are invited to rejoice in what God has done for us.

We are invited to join the prophets

who proclaimed good news to a people

who needed to hear some good news.

We are invited to see more clearly what God has done

and what God is doing,

and what God has in store for us.

 

Like Gaspar,

we are invited to speak with courage

a word of compassion and mercy

to a people who are in need of such a message.

Like Jesus,

we are invited to proclaim

that the Spirit of God is upon us

and that we have been called to proclaim good news.

 

We are invited to do all of this because

Our God is an awesome God,

who reigns from heaven above,

with wisdom, power and love,

our God is an awesome God!

Lyrics from “Awesome God” by Rick Mullins, 1988.

 

 

 

Fr. Dennis Chriszt, C.PP.S., is the director of advanced formation for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. He also directs Precious Blood Parish Missions (pbparishmissions.org).