Sunday, February 22, 2009

7th Sunday - homily

A few items of business today. The first has to do with the signs you see around the Church about the Great Adventure Bible Study. This is a great opportunity for all of us to understand the Bible better which is something that we all desire. It is a series of DVDs with Jeff Cavins who is a great teacher of the Bible. In the first DVD, Cavins reminds us of the quote from St. Jerome: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”. I am the first to admit that I need to know the Bible better, so I will be participating in the series along with everyone else. If you haven’t already signed up, I encourage you to do so. The series will begin on March 2, the first Monday of Lent.

The second item is one that you might have read about in the Catholic Standard. It is the new campaign of the Archdiocese for Lent, “Belonging to God’s Family”. The last few years it has been, “The Light Is On For You”. That will continue – I think we will be offering confessions every Tuesday night from 7-8:30 here. But, the new campaign will be an invitation for Catholics who have strayed from or left the Church to return. Archbishop Wuerl has written invitations and placed them in envelopes; we will have the invitations here next Sunday. He are asked to give them to Catholics we know and invite them to return to the Church, especially to the Eucharist.

It will be an opportunity to be like the friends of the paralytic from today’s Gospel who went to great lengths to bring their friend to Jesus. What has always struck me is the urgency of these men. They bring the man to the house where Jesus is. There is a huge crowd there. But, they are not deterred. They lower the man on a mat through the roof of the house. What might be even more startling is Jesus’ reaction. He sees the faith of these men and the first thing he does is forgive the man’s sins. This is significant because it shows us that the most important healing to God is spiritual, personal healing. It is only after this healing that Jesus heals the man physically; and that is to give a sign to the scribes.

Now, I don’t know if this is what the friends intended when they brought their friend to Christ. But, it really is like they are bringing him to Confession! It would be like bringing someone to Confession and there is a long line at the Church; they would take him to the front of the line. The Church sees this story as analogous to the Sacrament of Confession because Confession bring great healing. Again, the most important healing to God is spiritual, personal healing.

If we look at the two campaigns that Archbishop Wuerl has initiated here, we see that his vision is for healing. He sees the great healing power of Christ in the Eucharist and in Confession. He knows that we need it for ourselves and for others. The hope is that we will all experience healing through the sacrament of Confession this Lent…that we will all go to Confession during Lent.

Finally, this weekend is the follow-up to last weekend’s commitment to the Archbishop’s Appeal. For those who were unable to be here last weekend for whatever reason, we will have the in-pew commitment to the Appeal again. The Appeal gives us the opportunity to bring healing to those around the Archdiocese who are in need. It gives us the chance to be like the friends of the paralytic and bring people to Jesus. Through the Appeal, we support the charities of the Archdiocese that help those who are in need of healing.

For those who weren’t here last weekend, I’m sure you’ve been wondering all week if we’re going the in-pew campaign again this weekend. You’ve been calling the rectory and asking, “are you going to do it again?” (!) Yes, we’ve got you covered. I’ll go through the steps now. For those who gave last weekend, I ask for your patience. On behalf of Fr. Mike, I thank you for your generosity and commitment…


At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a roundabout way, it was my children who brought me back to church. When I look around at the 6:00 Mass (aka Teen Mass), I have a strong suspicion that many of our teens have brought their parents back too. We have great kids in our parish! Though the campaign seems directed at getting Catholics who have left the Church to come back, a good healthy compliment would be encouraging those who belong to a parish to actually come to Church. There are many faces from our school community missing at Mass each week. These parents are good people who are responsive to their children. It would be nice for each child in the school to invite a parent to come to a Mass with them. It’d be great for parents to hear why their children would want their mom or dad to be there.

You know, Father, while this campaign is in full swing, each Mass is kind of like a Christmas Mass- it may be the only Mass one goes to for a long time. Better start practicing those “out of the ballpark” homilies!

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought I'd managed to miss the Fill Out the Form homily.

At 6:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree 12:19 AND IT WENT ON AND ON....FG did a great job with what he had to work with.

At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny thing- after Mass tonight, my 5 yr old asked me, “Can girls be priests?” I said, “No. There are some things only men or women can do. Only women can have babies, and only men can be priests.” My 9 year old intervened, “You can’t be a priest, but you can be a nun.” So, my 5 yr old asked what a nun was. My elder daughter answered, “That’s a woman who wears white and black clothes and prays.” (I tend to wear white and black) So my 5 yr old said, “So Mommy, you’re a nun?”

At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to 6:04-
My husband only goes to church a handful of times each year. Without considering the timing and preventing it, he seems to always be present for the financial appeal. It's a hard thing when dealing with one who thinks the Church is mostly about money.

At 9:53 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

I have an older friend who is a very-much-lapsed Catholic and has to be dragged kicking and screaming to Mass on Christmas and Easter by his wife and daughter. He claims that Vatican II ruined church music. In particular he loathes folk choirs.

There is more than music involved with my friend’s disenchantment with the Church, and there is more to Mass than music, but I can understand how the music used can be something of a burr under one’s saddle. That’s not just because the style of music may not be to one’s taste.

One thing that irked me to no end when I first started attending Mass was that if the setting used was other than that in the front of the missalette (sp?) there was no hint given about where the liturgy could be found. As an experienced musician familiar with the text, at least, I could fake my way through the music until I learned it. [My spouse was no help…he knew the music, but not where it was in the missalette.] Even my in-laws, devout Catholics who attend Mass weekly, need help finding the Mass setting when they visit us because the one we use here is not the one used in their home parish. I accompanied my then-fiancé a couple of times when he played trumpet at St Mary of the Mills in Laurel. From my vantage point in the choir loft in the back of the church, it was quite obvious who the non-parishioners were: they were the ones looking clueless during the liturgy.

I think it will take more than an invitation to make lapsed Catholics feel welcome back at Mass. If they’ve been away for a while, they won’t necessarily be able to jump right in. Help them out by naming the Mass setting and stating where it can be found, so that they don’t feel like clueless outsiders.

PS Anon 8:34

My daughter was quite crushed to learn that she wasn't allowed to be the Pope. She has decided to settle for President.

At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unrelated to the post, but I need to say something- Bill Clinton was interviewed by Larry King tonight. In talking about embryonic stem cell reasearch, Clinton REPEATEDLY said, "Before these embryos are fertilized," and "If the embryos are never fertilized" we should use them for research. What am I missing? Does a former PRESIDENT of our United States not understand what an embryo is? Come on now!

At 6:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I hear a little girl talk about being president, it makes an impression on me that it can actually happen. I’m not that old, but the changes in thinking in my lifetime alone are pretty profound. I was dancing with an elderly member of our parish at an event the other night, and the opportunities open to her great-granddaughters must truly blow her mind! Can you imagine?!

In addition to the funny questions, my daughters asked each other about becoming nuns. I was educated by nuns, but my daughters haven’t had that exposure. They don’t understand what those “ladies with the funny clothes” do. My daughters concluded that they would not likely become nuns. The elder has decided to be a photographer and the younger doesn’t know what she’ll do but knows it won’t include the sisterhood. When I asked why, she said, “I couldn’t be quiet all the time.” I chuckled- mostly because of her earnestness (and the absolute truth of her statement), but also because I remember my preconceptions about those in religious life. When not reprimanding me for something, yeah, those ladies with the odd clothes were awfully quiet.

When I was a senior in high school, each month a group of girls were invited to the convent at my school for dinner. By the end of the school year, each student had dinner with the sisters. It gave us a brief glimpse into their lives. From across the dinner table, surprise- their lives looked fairly “normal.” They cooked, joked and genuinely enjoyed one another. The image of a solitary, serious and lonely life was replaced by one of happiness, contentment and friendship. It was a cool experience.

At 10:07 AM, Blogger fran said...

Just for laughs...

During last year's "The Light Is On For You," Lenten campaign, the same message [The Light Is on For You] was displayed on the message/sign that you see as you drive onto the St. Andrew school and church grounds.

On several occasions, when driving by to bring my daughter to school, I would glance at the sign and the actual "light" which illuminates the message would promptly go out!

Now, if for some reason the church doors are locked when I go to mass during this year's campaign, I suppose the new message, "Belonging to God's Family," will not pertain to me either.

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don’t understand something form today’s Gospel. The father of the boy says, “I believe; help my unbelief.”

I thought there were two kinds of doubt- doubt with the desire to believe (but NOT belief) and then the refusal to believe. I thought the opposite of faith is doubt. So can one have faith and doubt at the same time? I think my challenges in faith come from a genuine lack of understanding rather than doubt, so I can say, “I believe; help me in my understanding of You.” But I don’t see how I could say that I believe then ask for help for my not believing. I don’t understand.

At 3:40 PM, Blogger fran said...

"Then he questioned his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" He replied, "Since childhood....But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.
"'If I can!'" Everything is possible to the one who has faith."

These being the words preceding the father's words of 'belief and unbelief,' it appears that he is not speaking in contradictions but asking for greater faith. I do believe it is possible (although it is certainly not what God desires) for one to believe yet doubt, to believe yet lack faith, and to believe but not trust. Maybe those are all one in the same. There are plenty of gospel stories which illustrate these.

I don't mean to sound presumptuous, but some would probably agree that the person who comes to mass and recites the Creed stating their belief in God and Jesus Christ, and then moments later receives the Eucharist but does not have faith in, doubts, or does not believe in the Real Presence, is also the father in today's gospel reading.

At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"'If I can!'" Everything is possible to the one who has faith."

This is another statement I have a hard time with. It was the main point of the homily I heard today, I THINK trying to stress that any problem has not to do with Christ's power but our faith in it. But, not ALL things are possible. We can't, with even the greatest abundance of faith, leap from a tall building, flap our arms and expect to fly. So, I must discern what is possible in God's Kingdom. So, is it possible that NOT all things are possible?

Maybe I'm being ridiculously literal, but as I said, I have problems with faith when I do not understand (sometimes) what is the quite literal.

Not a challenge- but I welcome your thoughts.

At 10:36 PM, Blogger fran said...

Anon 6:25-

I don't know if I am qualified to adddress your question. Thank you for asking; here are my thoughts.

I agree that one cannot take things too literally. I have always wondered about the gospel passage which tells us that with faith the size of a mustard seed we could uproot a tree! I don't know about you, but I have never done any landscaping in my yard by simply willing it. But of course that is not the point. Even with abundant faith, I wouldn't be able to do something as extraordinary as moving a tree. However, with just a little faith, the size of a mustard seed, I would be able to see God doing extraordinary things.

You ask, "Is it possible that NOT all things are possible?" I think all things are possible, because God CAN do anything we ask. Now, WILL God do everything we ask? Probably not.

At 1:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:11 anon;

"But I don’t see how I could say that I believe then ask for help for my not believing."

What I hear in this statement is that you want to be certain or convinced that you're believing in the right concept in the right way. You want a definitive answer; you want certainty.

If I am interpreting your sentence correctly, perhaps some of the uncertainty, the doubt or the unbelief will be answered when you accept the fact that you're moving, thinking and living with the best insight you have available; and that with faith, these movements, thoughts and way of life may sometimes have to be enough.

Life is a journey; the only thing we know for certain is that the journey is filled with uncertainty.

At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Tom said...

We can't, with even the greatest abundance of faith, leap from a tall building, flap our arms and expect to fly.


If I leap from a tall building, flap my arms, and expect to fly, then I am not leaping out of an abundance of faith, but an abundance of presumption.

The devil tempted Jesus to do this very thing.

At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks,Tom. My understanding about the sin of presumption is seeking to use God’s power for our own purposes or following our own will rather than the will of God.

This is where I think things get sticky for a lot of people. In my example, we can’t flap our arms and fly- it’s obviously not God’s will b/c we can’t do it, end of story. However, in things we CAN do (i.e- IVF, cloning), we assert our presumption. God gives us tremendous capabilities, and for many that alone is a sign of God’s will in doing a variety of things that the Church teaches violate His will.


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