Archive for the ‘27th Sunday’ Category

The Way To Peace 10-8-2023

Thursday, October 5th, 2023

St. Paul urges the Philippians not to be anxious. He tells them,
“There is no need to worry”. This may seem an unreal piece of advice.
There is no way to avoid all worry. Good and sincere people are naturally
worried about many things. It is part of the burden they carry precisely
because they are people who care, who care abut loved ones, and many
other things.
But Paul is not talking about normal concerns. He is talking about
anxiety. Nothing is more debilitating or fruitless than anxiety. Of itself it
does nothing to solve our problems. Rather, the opposite is the case. By
dissipating our energy, anxiety weakens us and makes it more difficult for
us to find a solution to our problems.
The root of anxiety is lack of trust – lack of trust in oneself, in others,
and especially in God. Hence, the first piece of advice Paul gives the
Philippians is to pray. They must learn to commit their cares to the Lord:
‘If there is anything you need, pray for it.’
He is not suggesting that prayer should take the place of action. Nor
is he implying that their prayers will always be answered. What, then,
does prayer do? Prayer implies a willingness to do what we can, and then
to leave things in the hands of God. To accept what happens then as his
will, even though we may not understand it.
Then Paul tells his readers to think positively. People who are over
anxious tend to think very negatively. They imagine the worst scenario.
This is disastrous. We must concentrate on the good, not on the bad.
Many people devour the newspapers every day. It’s hard to read the
newspapers these days without coming away depressed, so full are they of
bad news. Instead of filling our minds with all kinds of trash, Paul says,
‘Fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble,
everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honor,
everything that can be thought virtuous and worthy of praise’. The power
of positive thinking is well known.
However, it is not just a question of thinking nice thoughts. We must
try to do these things. Thoughts alone will not suffice. We must pursue
goodness in our actions. Paul says, ‘Keep doing the things you have
learned from me’.
In Jesus’ parable of the vineyard a lot of ugly things happened. But
evil does not have the last say. In the end good triumphs. This shows us
that there is only one way to overcome evil, and that is with good. Jesus
didn’t answer evil with more evil. He triumphed over evil by good.
If we do what we can, and put our trust in God, then Paul assures us
that ‘the peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand,
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’.
Peace comes, not from having an easy and tranquil life. We can have
peace even in the midst of struggle and turmoil provided we are on the side
of right. Then the God of peace will be with us.

Mustard Seed Faith 10-2-2022

Sunday, October 2nd, 2022

Ben Durskin is nine years old. For almost four years, he has been
treated for acute lympho | blastic leukemia. During a punishing protocol of
chemotherapy, he passed the time with his Game Boy and Play Station. Last
summer, Ben came up with his own videogame, designed especially for kids
with cancer. In Ben’s Game, a boy (modeled after Ben) zooms around a
screen on a skateboard, blasting cancer cells in order to collect “shields” that
protect against the usual side effect of chemo: fever, chicken pox, colds,
vomiting, hair loss. A player can’t lose – “you just keep fighting,” explains
The Make-A-Wish Foundation and software engineer Eric Johnston of
LucasFilms worked with Ben to create the game. Ben’s Game has won raves
from the 200,000 children who have found the game, available free on line.
Not only is the game fun but children learn about the “monsters” attacking
their bodies and how they can best beat them.
For eight years, 15-year-old Sasha Bowers and her family were
homeless. Sasha, her little sister and her mother spent most nights in
Columbus, Ohio, shelter, fighting hunger and bugs and kept awake by snores
and screaming. Two years ago, Sasha’s mom landed a job with a cleaning
company and the family was able to move into an apartment.
But Sasha hasn’t forgotten where she came from. She’s been the
driving force behind a summer day-camp program for 175 homeless kids in
Columbus. “When I was in shelters, there were no safe places to play,”
Sasha explains. “I wanted to create a place that was fun, where kids could
stay out of trouble while parents find jobs and housing.”
When Ryan Hreljac was in the first grade, he was shocked to learn
about African children having to walk five miles to get a bucket of clean
water. Ryan did odd jobs around the house and for neighbors for four
months to raise $70, the cost of digging a well.
That was six years ago. Since then the Canadian teen’s foundation,
Ryan’s Well, has raised $750,000 to build wells in seven African nations.
Relief and development agencies in Canada say of Ryan: “He’s such a
regular kid – that’s what makes him so powerful… He believes everyone
should have water, and he’s not going to stop until they do.”
These remarkable young people, Ben, Sasha, and Ryan possess the
faith of the mustard seed: they have taken their own “Mustard seeds” – seeds
of creativity, empathy and dedication – and have done the hard work of
planting and nurturing those seeds until each one has realized an enduring
and rooted harvest of hope, of compassion, of life itself. Christ calls us to
embrace “mustard seed” faith – to believe that even the slightest act of
goodness, done in faith and trust in God’s presence, has meaning in the reign
of God. The mustard seed challenges us to grab hold of the opportunities we
have for planting and reaping a harvest of justice, compassion and
reconciliation in our own piece of the earth.
Ben, Sasha and Ryan – remarkable young people – they planted their
tiny mustard seed, worked hard, and God did the rest.
You, you, you, all of you, remarkable people. Plant your tiny mustard
seeds wherever you find yourself in life, work hard and let God do the rest.
Mustard seed faith – to believe that even the smallest act of goodness,
kindness, done in faith and trust in God’s power, can have an unbelievable
effect on many, many people. Please, don’t sell yourself short – don’t sell
the power of God short!

Divorce 10-3-2021

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

Our Gospel speaks very bluntly about Divorce (Easy to skip
over it) – I am going to try to share with you a few points of
reflection that have helped me understand the scripture better.
It is very important to hear these words of Jesus in their
historical context and not as applied directly to anyone’s present
day situation. These words do not apply to all people who have
ever had a marriage fail –it was the Pharisees that raised the
issue of divorce in order to trick Jesus – to get him in trouble.
You see many of the people were already married when they
became followers of Jesus. In some cases a husband or a wife
became a follower of Jesus while their spouse did not.
Somewhat misguided some of the followers of Jesus felt
compelled to get away from their non-Christian partner – so
they divorced them. This became a scandal in the Church,
people divorcing otherwise devoted partners over religion and
feeling righteous about it. Now, apply the words of Jesus to the situation and you get something different from what we thought
we were hearing. I hear it now as a challenge to misguided
piety – a self-righteous attitude – Jesus says is has to STOP!
There will always be a gap between the ideals of following
Christ and our everyday human reality. There is Tension!
What do we do about it?
Do we throw out the ideal that the marriage commitment
is forever especially when it gets too hard – too difficult?
I think Jesus’s answer would be NO.
On the other hand, do we treat people who get divorced
like dirt, like second class citizens? I think the answer of
Jesus would again be NO.
We try our best each day, as Pope Francis says, to offer
compassion, support, and create an environment where all people
feel like they belong, even when we do not get to the ideal. I want to thank you. Those of you that have struggled and battled
to stay married, to keep the different commitments you have made. I look at all you go through. I hear your stories. You inspire me to keep
striving towards the ideal in the midst of my human weakness.
I want to apologize to any of you that have gone through a divorce
as a couple or as a family, if our Church or any Church person has
treated you rude or has slammed the door in your face.
For those of you who have experienced a divorce, and have kept
your commitment to Christ and the Church, I sincerely thank you. You
have not given up on God and the Church, even if you felt that the
Church & God may have given up on you.
I close:
Hear this, the door is open, you are welcome here. I extend to you
a personal invitation and ask you to pass this invitation on to others.
Let’s sit down and talk. It’s time to heal. We sing about it – Our God is
a God of Second Chances. We must together try to make that message
come alive in this place in this time.