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.