Happy feast of Christ the King! Thirty-Fourth Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King! In 1925, Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King at the close of the liturgical year and he proclaimed: “Pax Christi in regno Christi” (“The peace of Christ in the reign of Christ”). This feast asserts the sovereignty of Christ the King. The disciple of Christ, the citizen of His Kingdom, is called to obey the commandment of love: love your God with all your being and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31).
In the first reading from the book of Samuel, all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron, David made a covenant with God, and he was anointed as the King of Israel. Soul was the first King, and he disobeyed God, so God chose David. David was anointed King of Israel with all the tribes united under him. In this role, he was the type of Christ who all bear the title the King of Israel although his Kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36).
The Gospel reading reminds us that Christ’s kingship in this life is manifest by the suffering of the Cross. Jesus willingly accepted the punishment of humanity’s offense and through his sacrifice brought to us redemption. Our King is he who laid downs his life for his people. Throughout the Old Testament, we can read the messianic prophecies. At the royal entrance to Jerusalem, the people shouted, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:38). Later when Jesus was arrested the same people shouted, “Crucify, Crucify him” (Luke 23:21). Based on the Gospel of Luke one of the criminals who were hanged railed at Jesus, but in the Gospel of Mark 15:32, both railed him. But the penitent thief receives salvation through the crucified Jesus. Jesus’ words to the penitent thief reveal the destiny of the Christian is “to be with Jesus.”
Jesus invites us to establish his kingdom in our hearts, in our homes, in church, community, and so on. It is an invitation to live in the presence of God. The curtain in the Temple separated the presence of God in the Holy of Holies from the people. It's tearing from the top to bottom signifies that the sacrificial death of Christ opens the path of the people to the very presence of God. While we are here, we are called to establish his kingdom in our hearts, but through our union with the resurrection of Christ, the gates of paradise are open for us.
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving! Mother Teresa told this story in the National Prayer Breakfast address in 1994. “One evening several of our sisters went out, and we picked up four people from the street. One of them was in a most terrible condition. So, I told the other Sisters, ‘You take care of the other three: I will take care of this one who looks the worst.’ So I did for the woman everything that my love could do. I cleaned her and put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hands and said two words in her language, Bengali: ‘Thank you.’ Then she died. I could not help but examine my conscience. I asked myself, ‘What would I say if I were in her place?’ My answer was simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said, ‘I am hungry, I am dying, I am in pain.’ But the woman gave me much more; she gave me grateful love, dying with a grateful smile on her face. It means that even those with nothing can give us the gift of thanks.” Happy Thanksgiving!!
I would like to take this opportunity to say, “THANK YOU” to all our cluster parishioners, councils and committee members, people serving as different ministers, Cluster staff, benefactors, and well-wishers… “THANK YOU!”
First of all, let me take this opportunity to congratulate our First Reconciliation Children and their families. They made their commitment ceremony last Sunday. This Sunday, our Confirmation Candidates make their commitment. We, the faith community with their sponsors, families, and teachers asked you to make a commitment to pray for them and support you in their journey. Congratulations to Our Confirmation Candidates!
This past Friday, we celebrated Veterans Day: Veterans Day is the national day to recognize the sacrifices of our nation’s heroes. I read a prayer by St Ignatius of Loyola – a veteran - prayer about heart-felt generosity. It goes like this: Dear Lord, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil, and not to seek for rest; to labor, and not to ask for any reward except that of knowing that I am doing your holy will. Amen. Veterans Day is to honor them for their love and sacrifices for our safety. Our men and women are in uniform in the past, present, and the future, God bless you, and Thank You!
As we approach the end of the liturgical year, the readings invite us to reflect on the end time, death, and final judgment. Do you think the end of the world is near? We hear repeatedly people talk about this subject. Whenever something unexpected occurs we have a tendency to think in this direction.
In the Gospel, Luke narrates the eschatological discourse. Jesus portrays for us, graphically, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. For Jews, the destruction of these two things was equivalent to the end of the world. There were three reasons behind this because for them, the Temple was 1) the dwelling place of God. In 1 King chapter 8, we see the dedication of the Temple, and the Lord came from heaven to dwell in the Temple. 2) It was the sole place of sacrifice. Deuteronomy 12 tells that the center of worship is Jerusalem Temple. 3) Jerusalem and Temple were a symbol of heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17&18). So they believed that the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple is the destruction of the universe, the destruction of heaven and earth.
The Temple was the joy of the People of Israel. Its stones were decorated with jewels. The disciples marveled at it. Jesus said it would be torn down, as it was in the year 70 AD. There is a section of the Temple still standing. It’s called the Wailing Wall. People still go there and mourn the fate of the Jewish people, and the fate of all who are persecuted.
Jesus told the disciples that the Temple would be torn down because all material things come to an end sooner or later. Then the disciples asked the big question, the question that so many people want to know: When? Jesus absolutely refuses to say when the end of time will come. All he will tell us is that there are signs of the end. Jesus' point is that his true followers should not be concerned about when the end is, they should only be concerned about living in the present.
Jesus foretold many signs that would shake peoples and nations. The signs which God uses are meant to point us to a higher spiritual truth and reality of his kingdom which does not perish or fade away but endures for all eternity. God works through many events and signs to purify and renew us in hope and to help us set our hearts more firmly on him and him alone.
In the first reading from the book of Malachi, the prophet warns the people of Israel for their pride and evildoings. They were just returned from the Babylonian exile, and they were tempted to follow the former life. Prophet Malachi told them that God had taken note of the goodness of those who feared Him and would have compassion on them on the Day of His coming. But there would be punishment for the wicked and the proud.
The reading wants us to reflect on preparedness. Despite the signs, no one knows the precise moment of the end. So, we must stay ready always.
We began the Month of November with celebration of All Saints Day. They are the example for us to grow in holiness. We strive to grow in holiness, but in different ways: as a priest, religious, married couple and family, singles, and so on. This week we are celebrating National Vocation Awareness week. Vocation in general is openness to God’s call. How do we foster this call? One of the brochures for Vocation Awareness Week talks about seven ways a family can foster vocation: 1) snuggle up and read fascinating age appropriate saints story at bed time; 2) watch a better movie as family (e.g. life of St. John Bosco); 3) Set the record straight, means tell children about real happiness, instead TV tells them what is happiness; 4) Play dress up, let children imagine being a priest or nun and play it out, 5) pray from the heart, have family prayer time and during the family prayer pray for the families, priests and nuns too; 6) Talk about vocations openly; marriage, priesthood and religious life; 7) Befriend priest and religious, invite a priest or a nun at your home.
People often ask me how did I decide to become a priest? I tell them the short answer is because God called me. Then I explain to them how I found out God’s calling: It was through my family, pastor, nuns, youth group and so on. I can say that the youth program called “Cherupushpa Mission League” which made a remarkable influence in making my decision. I was very much involved in this youth ministry. I was a participant at the beginning and in my high school years, I was in the leadership team under the guidance of pastor and nuns. The experience with youth ministry encouraged me in my decision making to become a priest.
These are the little steps to teach our children about vocation: prayer at home, going for Mass as family, teach them be a server, reader, or greeter and so on. Everybody is not going to be a priest or nun. It is their choice, but it our duty to teach them about different vocations and have an opportunity to talk about it and to get to know. When it comes to faith, normally some of the parents tempted to say it is their child’s choice. They cannot choose something they do not know. However, they are exposed to everything else automatically, they should be exposed to faith and its traditions and roots too. Then they can make the right choice. Let us pray for vocations. We all are called to holiness in different paths.
Month of November is dedicated to praying for our loved ones and it is the end of the liturgical year. So, the theme of the reading is tuned to end time and eternal life. The First reading and the Gospel talks about resurrection. In the first reading is the martyrdom of seven brothers with their mother. The willingness to sanctify one’s life rather than transgress. Commandments is a frequent theme in the book of Maccabees. Despite the persecution, the entire family rema ined faithful and offered the supreme sacrifice of their love and fidelity. At the time of death, one told the executioner, “You are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.” We see an amazing witness to their faith.
In the Gospel we see the story of seven brothers married to one woman and, therefore, “Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?” Jesus’ time there were two prominent groups, such as Sadducees and Pharisees. Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. The Sadducees’ question was based on the law of levirate marriage recorded in Dt 25:5–10, to ridicule the idea of the resurrection.
Jesus deals with them on their own terms: first by denying that marriage exists in the next life and second, by deliberately citing Mosaic Law against them. The burning bush episode shows that God identified himself with patriarchs: Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob long after their death Exodus 3:6). It shows that they must still be living beyond their earthly death. Jesus said, God “is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."
Month of October, we were reflecting and praying, especially through the devotion to the Rosary, on the dignity of human life.
This is the last weekend of Respect Life month; we are praying for victims of Domestic violence and human trafficking. Violence against another person is a failure to treat that person as someone worthy of love. The violence within the sacramental marriage, the abused spouse may question, "How do these violent acts relate to my promise to take my spouse for better or for worse?" An article from United State Bishops says, “We focus here on violence against women since 85 percent of the victims of reported cases of non-lethal domestic violence are women. Women's greatest risk of violence comes from intimate partners—a current or former husband or boyfriend.” Human trafficking is a new form of slavery. United Bishop’s Conference says, “Human trafficking violates the sanctity, dignity, and fundamental rights of the human person.” They state that every nation is affected by this disease—the United States is no exception.
Today’s reading reminds us God is benevolent, his mercy envelopes each and every creature. The first reading from the book of Wisdom answers the question, “Why doesn’t God do away with evil men?” The answer is God created everything, he loves and cares for everyone, which leads him to be gentle with the wicked, leading them to repentance. The Book of Wisdom consoles us saying, “You overlook people’s sins so that they may repent” (11:23).
The Gospel reading through the account of Zacchaeus gives a real-life example of what Christ taught in his parables about repentance. Like most of the tax collectors, of his day, Zacchaeus was hated by his fellow Jews for cheating for their money and collaborating with Romans. Yet, Christ recognized Zacchaeus’ very desire to see him and called him by name, which leads to repentance and conversion. St. Paul’s second letter to Thessalonians encourages to persevere in their Christian Faith, giving glory to God without idly waiting for the “second coming” of Christ in their lifetime.
All Saints Day and All Souls Day: In the month of November, the Church invites us to pray for our loved ones. We celebrate November 1st is all Saints Day and November 2nd is all Souls Day. Sometimes we think that the church means we who are on earth. Church has three realms: the church on earth is called the militant church because we are in a battle between good and evil; the souls in purgatory are called suffering church because they are in state of purification to fully experience God’s glory and the saints who have already entered in the heavenly glory are victorious or triumphant church. All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation this year. Children are encouraged to dress up like their favorite saint for the All Saints Day Mass.
All Saints Day is a feast honoring all Christian saints – known and unknown. On All Souls Day we remember all those who have gone before us. The souls in purgatory need our prayer to help their purification and attain in heavenly glory. On November 2nd we celebrate a special Mass at St. Cecilia Cemetery at 11:00 am. and light lunch in the parish hall. We celebrate a Mass of Remembrance on Sunday, November 20.
We ask the saints to intercede for us. We pray for our loved ones who have gone before us. Every Mass there is the place we pray for our loved ones. Please remember our loved one every Mass. Another way, Church invites us to offer Mass in their name. It costs only $ 10.00, but it takes conscious thought and action to do it. Please join for All Saints Day and All Souls Day celebrations.
We are celebrating Mission Sunday. Mission Sunday invites us to reflect beyond our local church and see the mission of the universal church. Some give to the missions by going. Some go by giving. Mission Sunday is the day to reach out beyond the needs of the local Parish and diocese to assist missionaries as they go and tell in the young churches. Pope Francis urges us to reflect on the theme, “You shall be my witness.” Mission Sunday brings us together to celebrate our faith and support through our prayer and financially Pope Francis's mission.
In his letter, Rev. Msgr. Kieran E. Harrington says the story of Pauline Jaricot. He writes, “In 1822, in a small city of France, laywoman Pauline Jaricot called a group of young women together to pray for missionaries abroad and support them with a penny a week. These efforts helped to build the Church in the United States. Today, we have the same opportunity to Witness Christ by joining in that effort of praying for and promoting foreign missions in our homes and parishes.”
The “You shall be my witness” challenges us to reflect on our faith journey. If we want to be effective witnesses of Christ, we must grow in prayer. As we celebrate World Mission Sunday, first we are called to support the mission through prayer, also support financially, and all other possible ways.
This weekend's reading is on genuine prayer. Prayer is communication with God, being with God. We looked at the different aspects of prayer last weekend. This weekend, the first reading from the Book of Sirach, we are reminded that “The one who serves God willingly is heard.” We see in this passage the complimentarity between liturgical worship and social justice. During the time of Ben Sirach, many Jews were living in the midst of pagans. Eventually, unknowingly the Jews assimilated the pagan culture. So, Ben Sirach taught them how to lead a good life and be faithful Jews. Sirach asserts that God shows no favoritism. He listens to the humble prayers of the poor, fatherless, and widows.
Luke’s Gospel shows special concern for the poor and the outsider. In today’s Gospel, we see the prayer of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The self-righteous, critical attitude of the Pharisees and tax collectors’ humility and dependence on God, guide us to form true and effective prayer. The fundamental attitude of the Christian disciple must be the recognition of sinfulness and complete dependence on God’s graciousness. Jesus warns in Matthew 6:5, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
True and effective prayer demands a humble disposition. The Pharisee in the parable offered thanks to God for his own qualities and success but arrogantly contrasts contrasted his virtues against the tax collector’s sins and shortcomings. Pharisee came with a checklist of his performance.
On the other hand, the tax collector came with a humble and contrite heart. This is the attitude we are called to have when we come for Mass. Every Eucharist starts with a moment of recalling our sins and asking God’s mercy: “Kyrie/Christe, Eleison.” Jesus tells his audience and us, as a result of tax collectors’ humble prayer for mercy, he received mercy and went home truly “justified,” i.e., “reconciled to God.” St. Paul reminds us in Titus 3:5: “Not because of any righteous deeds we have done but because of His mercy, He has saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
In the second reading, Paul sensed the proximity of his own death, like a runner running a race, and that he has kept the Faith right up to this point. He humbly awaits “the crown of righteousness” which is through the grace of God. Paul says, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith!”
Respect Life Month: Inclusion Awareness
Respect life month invites us to meditate on the dignity of life. On the second weekend of October, we celebrate Inclusion Awareness Day as a part of respect life month. We celebrate life with our ability and disAbilities, our strength and weakness. We are one family. Because we like to see ourselves as young, healthy, and wealthy, sometimes we forget to appreciate the rest of the community. Inclusion Awareness Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on how we include everyone in the community by looking at our abilities rather than disAbilities. How we appreciate the gift of each and every one. In other words, how we celebrate our differences. This weekend’s reading invites us to “do something beautiful for God” by reaching out to others.
Father Henri Nouwen, the founder of Pathways Awareness, remarked that "I was always studying about God and teaching about God to all these bright students. I wanted to be smarter than others. I wanted to show them that I could be "with it". And I suddenly realized that it is not in strength and power that God was coming to me, but in weakness."
Last weekend, we reflected on Faith. Jesus told his disciples, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.” Luke 17:6. Today, the reading invites us to reflect on faith and gratitude. Luke 17:11-19 narrates an incident recounting the faith and thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan leper. This incident is only in Luke’s gospel. Those who suffered leprosy were outcasts. There were ritually unclean and believed that they were contagious. Leviticus chapter 13 explains what to do if some have an infectious disease. Leviticus 13:45 says, “The garments of one afflicted with a scaly infection shall be rent and the hair disheveled, and the mustache covered. The individual shall cry out, “Unclean, unclean!” The ten lepers stood at a distance and lifted their voice and said, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" And his reply was "Go show yourselves to the priests." Leviticus chapter 14 explains the purification after a scaly infection. Leviticus 14:2 says, “This is the ritual for someone that had a scaly infection at the time of that person’s purification. The individual shall be brought to the priest.” So, Jesus asked them to show the priest. The lepers were not cleansed, but they believed and followed his instruction.
The non-Jew is the one who came to express gratitude and was being an example to his Jewish contemporaries. This foreigner was not just cleansed, but he was healed and received salvation. Jesus’ action recalls the incident in the first reading how Elisha cleansed a foreign leper while living in Samaria. Jesus initiates the welcoming of the foreigners into God’s covenant family as prophesied in Isaiah 56:3-8, “…And foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, to become his servants…” It is the faith in Jesus manifested by the foreigner that has brought him salvation. In Luke 7:36-50, a sinful woman expressed her faith and Jesus said to her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
In the second reading, Paul, the apostle of gentiles, offered up his imprisonment as an intercessory prayer for the faithful. Likewise, we must be willing to suffer for the sake of our faith. Suffering is accepted in union with Christ’s cross. Paul used every occasion to proclaim the Gospel, even chains were not an obstacle. The word of God could not be chained.
Let us pray, Lord, give us the grace to ever grow in faith, never fail to recognize your love and mercy, and always proclaim the Gospel. Lord, give us strength to bring others closer to you. Amen.
October invites us to reflect on Respect Life, the Rosary, the life of St. Francis, and much more…
First of all, let us wish our St. Francis parishioners, a happy and joyful Feast of St. Francis. Feast of St. Francis of Assis is on October 4th, but we celebrate on Sunday, October 2nd. St. Francis of Assis loved the whole universe. The custom of blessing animals originated from St. Francis’ love for all creatures. Animals used to come and listen to his preaching. How beautiful is it to begin the month of October, respect life month, by reflecting on St. Francis’ love for all God’s creation.
I think in 2019, most of us watched the movie, "Unplanned." After the movie, I said, what a powerful message. Why is it powerful because it involves real life? Life matters. The month of October is the month of respect life and the month of the rosary. This year, the theme for the respect life is "Called to serve moms in need." Every moment of our life from womb to tomb is a gift from God and He is our Hope. Every season of our life encounters challenges—moments of being vulnerable, but those vulnerabilities give us the opportunity to grow closer to Christ who is our Hope. As I mentioned above, October is the month of the Rosary, a devotion to our Mother Mary, which connects with respect life month. When we meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary, we walk through the life of Jesus: from the very moment of his conception in the womb of Mary, through his passion death, and resurrection to his ascension and coming of the Holy Spirit. He restored the dignity of our life. Through his salvific action, we received the dignity of life.
In this month of October, let us pray for life: life from the womb to the tomb. During the first week, we pray and pray for unborn babies, mothers, and babies aborted and for the healing of their parents. In the second week, we will be praying for/with people with different abilities (disabilities). We call it Inclusion Awareness Sunday. If you know someone who has not received the Sacrament at an appropriate age, please call Kathy Rominske, and Sandy Kennedy, as we can prepare them for the Sacraments.
October 18th is also the feast of St. Luke, who was a physician and patron saint of the medical profession. On the Third Sunday close to the Feast of St. Luke, we pray for all those who are sick, the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of the Sick, and offer a special prayer for the caregivers and healthcare professionals. On the fourth Sunday, we celebrate World Mission Sunday. Pope Francis wrote in his 2017 message, “Carrying out our mission, let us draw inspiration from Mary, Mother of Evangelization. Moved by the Spirit, she welcomed the Word of Life in the depths of her humble faith.” On the fifth Sunday, we meditate and pray for domestic violence and human trafficking. Again, an opportunity to reflect on the dignity of life in our day-to-day life.
Twenty-seventh Sunday, the reading invites us to reflect on faith and its effect on our life. St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “To one who has Faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without Faith, no explanation is possible.” In the first reading Habakkuk begins by complaining to the Lord: why doesn’t God do anything about violence and injustice? If we continue reading the following passage we will see God’s response, saying that he is preparing the Babylonians to come and destroy the evil doers and the prophet acknowledges the divine judgment.
In the Gospel reading, the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith”. Faith is a gift from God. We need to nourish our faith through reading/listening to the Word of God and receiving the Sacraments and putting them into practice. Our faith is alive when focused on the love of God and neighbor and grows when our prayers and actions are driven by charity. Jesus told his disciples, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.”
Do we ask God to increase our faith? Have you noticed things happened even when we questioned or doubted? God is always beside us, let us ask him to increase our faith.
Sins of Omission
Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. He teaches life in the kingdom of God. Today’s reading invites us to reflect on the sin of omission. Can I live to continue living in comfort while turning a blind eye to those around me who are in misery?
During the time of Amos, the Davidic kingdom was divided into two: Israel, the northern kingdom with its capital Samaria, and Judah, the Southern kingdom with its capital Jerusalem. Amos was a sheep breeder of Tekoa in Judah, but God called him to prophesy in the northern kingdom during the prosperous region of Jeroboam II. They didn’t care much for his words, and he was expelled by the priest in charge of the royal sanctuary.
They were lying on ivory beds…they bawl to the harp sound of the harp…they dine on the lambs from the flock, drinking wine from the bowlful and using the finest oil for anointing themselves. It was all good, it was a blessing from God, but how they used it selfishly. They forgot others in need.
In today’s Gospel, the story of the rich Man and Lazarus tells us what is expected of us as disciples of Christ. In Jewish tradition, they believed that poverty and sickness result from God’s punishment. Deuteronomy 28:58&59, “If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, and to fear this glorious and awesome name, the LORD, your God, the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants wondrous calamities, severe and constant calamities, and malignant and constant sicknesses.” For the rich, wealth is God’s blessing, so they can live a luxurious life. We read in Luke 6: 24, “But woe to you who are rich, for you, have received your consolation.” In the character of the rich man, we can see the evidence of love for money and the lack of mercy for the poor Lazarus. We don’t see in the Gospel he is doing anything against Lazarus. But we can see he ignored Lazarus, not helping in his hardship.
The interesting aspect of this story is God gave the poor man a name, Lazarus, which means God is my help. Despite a life of misfortune and suffering, Lazarus does not lose hope in God. In the second part of the story, Lazarus is enjoying Heavenly bliss as a reward for his fidelity to God in his poverty and suffering, while the rich man is thrown down into the excruciating suffering of Hell as punishment for not showing mercy to Lazarus, who was in need.
The question may come to our mind, why was the rich man punished? Did he commit any sin? The sin of the rich man is the sin of omission although he did not drive either the poor Lazarus or the stray dogs from in front of his door nor did he prevent either from sharing the discarded crumbs and leftovers from his table. He did not kick Lazarus. He was not cruel to him. But he failed to recognize Lazarus as a human being and a brother. He did no wrong, but he did nothing good, either. In Catholic teaching, that is the sin of omission: not doing what one is supposed to do.
What is the sins of omission? If we leave undone the good or the duties to which we are bound by those obligations, we commit sins of omission. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus is not recognizing the needy. What are some of our sins of omission?
Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our baptismal call. Each one of us is called to be a catechist. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to this mission as a community of faith. On catechetical Sunday we take a moment to pray for our catechist who committed to share our faith with our young children and youth. There are a good number of people who volunteer to teach our faith to our young people. We recognize them and we thank them for their generosity. Thank you!
For the last two years we used Family of Faith for religious education. It is for the entire family and then parents taught the class for the rest of the month at home. Parents meet every first Wednesday of the month. Our children and youth will have class every week. The parent session is for the entire cluster, please come and join.
Catholic Service Appeal
First of all, I take this opportunity to thank all of you for your generous support to our parish, and yearly Catholic Service Appeal (CSA). Your generosity makes a difference. This weekend is the KICK-OFF of our annual CSA 2022-2023. The theme for this year's appeal is “Centered in the Eucharist." As you know we are in the three year Eucharistic Revival program. God is not distant, he is with us, he breaks and shares with us. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. We listen to the CSA message centered in the Eucharist.
Sometimes we ask why I need to give my money to the Diocese. It can be used in my local church. It is a valuable thought. The reality is we are part of the universal church; we are part of the bigger mission. Whether promoting vocations, educating our future priests, providing lay ministry formation, teaching, evangelizing, providing outreach to youth, young adults, and those in need, diocesan ministries reach beyond the ability of any single parish to support. We benefit from the Diocese in so many different ways. You should have received the CSA booklet in the mail. It will give you a picture of how our money is used and how many lives you have touched.
The Goal for this year for our parishes are: St. Anthony $36,538.00; Immaculate Conception $10,791; and St. Francis $3,631.00. Thank you to all those who have already returned the CSA envelope. If you didn’t bring it, please do so. If everyone participates we can reach the goal. Let us respond to Bishop Power’s invitation and make it a successful one.
Today’s reading reminds us to be a faithful steward. The first reading from the Book of Amos reminds us to be a God’s faithful steward and show justice and mercy to all. During the time of Amos, Israel was divided into two kingdoms: Israel and Judah. The business community was corrected and they exploited the poor. Deuteronomy 25:11 on wards gives various precepts. They knew how to treat each other, but disregarded. Injustice against the poor is a sin. So, the Lord warned the people through Amos of the coming down of the kingdom because they are not good stewards.
The Gospel of Luke 16:1-13 presents to us the unrighteous steward to tell us urgency and preparedness. The parable of the dishonest steward has to be understood in the light of the Palestinian custom of agents acting on behalf of their masters and the usurious practices common to such agents. About the loss of his position the steward makes use to find favor with his master’s debtors and prepare for his future. Steward's last minute effort provided last minute success in winning the favor of the debtors and making his future financially secure.
Jesus points to the steward as both an example and warning. Jesus says, “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is the Greek transliteration of a Hebrew or Aramaic word that is usually explained as meaning “that in which one trusts.” The dishonest steward expresses a tendency of wealth to lead one to dishonesty. Eternal dwellings: or, “eternal tents,” which is heaven. Investing in God’s kingdom means investing using our treasures properly. Our life should be centered on love of God and one another, and everything else to boost the goal.
This weekend's readings remind us that God is loving and forgiving. Our God is a God of new beginnings. In the first reading from the book of Exodus God agrees for Moses to remain faithful to the Sinai covenant, even though people have gone away from the Lord and worshiped the Golden Calf. Moses was gone to the top of the mountain for “forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 24:18). While he was on the top of the mountain receiving instruction from the Lord, people of Israel at the foot of the mountain grew impatient. They made a Golden Calf and worshiped it. It seems that the golden calf was intended as an image, not of another god, but of the Lord, whose strength was symbolized by the strength of a young bull. The Israelites, however, had been forbidden to represent the Lord under any visible form. We read in the Exodus 20:4&5, “You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or serve them.” In response to Israel’s infidelity, God declares to Moses that he will execute the course on Israel for their infidelity. But Moses pleads for people and asks God to remain faithful to the Sinai covenant even though the people have broken it. Moses uses three arguments: (1) they are God’s own people, redeemed with God’s great power (Exodus 5-15); (2) God’s reputation will suffer if they are destroyed; (3) the covenant with Abraham still stands (Genesis 22:15-17). Hearing his arguments, the Lord’s change of mind is a testimony to Israel’s belief in the power of intercessory prayer. God shows his mercy towards Israel.
The Gospel of Luke chapter 15 presents God’s limitless mercy and forgiveness. Today’s passage we see three lost and found stories. Through all three of them, Jesus shows us that his mission is to call sinners to repentance, for which there is more reason to rejoice than there is over those who have never strayed from the faith. Jesus repeats this message several times in the Gospels. We read in Matthew 9:13, “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” It was the occasion of the call of Matthew.
All three parables in today’s Gospel are about lost and found which brings great celebration of joy. In the first parable, the shepherd gathers his scattered sheep and looks for the lost one. Jesus, the good shepherd came to call his people together and to reconcile back into one-fold. Second, a woman loses a coin. She had ten but lost one of them. Each one is worth an entire day’s wage. She turns the house upside down in search of it. Third, the story of the prodigal son. I would like to call this story, the story of a prodigal Father who lavishly forgives his lost son.
This parable narrates the exile and homecoming of historical Israel. After King Solomon, Israel split into two kingdoms, living like brothers’ side by side, northern (Israel) and southern (Judah) kingdom (1 King 12). By the eighth century the Assyrians captured Israel where they worshiped idols. In Ezekiel 37:21-23, we read God welcomes home the exiled son by lavishly sharing mercy and forgiveness.
In the parable of the prodigal son, the younger son came and asked for his share of property. It was unusual and even shameful for a son to ask for his inheritance before his father’s death. We read the guideline for the distribution of inheritance in the book of Sirach 33. Younger son collected everything and took a journey into a far country and lived lavishly. Jews considered pigs unclean animals (Leviticus 11:7), but in desperate need the prodigal son agreed to feed the swine. We read in the Gospel for today, “When he came to himself” return to the father. On the other hand, my father was waiting for him. He ran and embraced him. The action of the father recalls the mercy shown to Jacob in the book of Genesis 33:4. Father gave him a robe and a ring which is a symbol of honor and authority in the Bible, (Genesis 41:42). Then the father says, “My son was dead, and is alive again…” which shows the change of status from curse to blessing.
The parable of prodigal son narrates the continuing struggle of the spiritual life, where repentance and conversion are part of an ongoing process. God is always waiting for us to share with love and mercy.