Our first reading this weekend contains a lot of wisdom. We hear Sirach say, one’s faults [appear] when one speaks…one’s speech discloses the bent of one’s mind…praise no one until he speaks, for it is then that people are tested.
As we listen to politicians speak these days, read what people say and post on social media, and listen to the fallout that occurs, it is obvious that Sirach was right on. So much is said without thought, both as to its truth and to the consequences that will follow. We need to think carefully before we speak. Some possible questions to ask ourselves before we say something or post something on social media:
Jesus reinforces this with the last words that we hear in our Gospel this weekend: A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. I invite us to reflect this week on what comes out of my mouth? Am I making the world better or bringing about unhappiness? How can I do better at making sure I am “producing good”? God bless.
Church sign of the week: It is better to be silent and be considered a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
Our Gospel reading is a continuation of Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain.” Last week we heard “blessed are you” and “woe to you”; this week Jesus makes it very clear how we are to treat others. What He says is a challenge to hear and difficult to do. But if we think we are followers of Christ and are not doing our best to grow in our ability to respond to these challenges, we are deceiving ourselves. What are these challenges?
Twice Jesus tells us to love our enemies and do good to them. Can you imagine how different our country would be if all who called themselves Christians were able to do this? Yet, sometimes the temptation is to sweep this into the background and, instead, pray or go to church, because that is much easier. Our religious observance is crucial and we need to do it, but to HELP us live these challenges, not avoid them.
Jesus ends by making it clear how serious this is: we will be judged as we judge, we will be condemned as we condemn, we will be forgiven only as we are able to forgive. This is serious stuff that merits our reflection this week. And as we reflect, let us pray for each other that we may be able to continue growing in our ability to love, forgive, and be merciful, as Jesus always is with us.
Church sign of the week: Jesus says, “No, I’m not talking about Twitter. I literally want you to follow me.”
You might have noticed a new fence dividing our parking lot. On February 2nd, the sale of the East side of the parking lot to Cardinal Capital was finalized. A picture of the housing for “active” seniors that will be built there is on display in the vestibule of the church. More information will be in the March Parish Press.
Thank you to all who contributed to the Salvatorian Sunday
collection. As of February 7th, the collection totaled $8,240.
I am very appreciative. PACT: Pius Parishioners Always Come Through!
Our readings this week have a very clear message: the values of the Kingdom of God are NOT the values of this world and the values of the Kingdom of God bring true happiness and peace. The reading from Jeremiah compares those who trust in flesh to a dry, barren land without water, while those who trust in God are like a plant located near water that is always green and bears fruit. In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul calls those “pitiful” who trust only in this life.
Our Gospel today is Luke’s version of the beatitudes. We can’t imagine how jarring they were to his audience. We have to
remember that, for the people of that time, wealth, health, and happiness meant that God was pleased with you and blessing you. Hunger, illness, and misfortune meant you were being punished, either for your sins or the sins of your ancestors. And here comes Jesus saying, blessed are you who are poor, hungry, weeping, and hated. Then, to make sure that they get the point, Jesus emphasizes it with the opposite: woe to you who are rich, filled [with food], laughing, and well thought of.
We have to be careful to make sure we understand what Jesus is saying. He doesn’t want us to be poor, hungry, weeping, and hated; but he is warning us that we can’t make our goal in life to be rich, happy, satisfied, and well thought of. We have to have our priorities straight. And our priority has to be to live the law of love.
This challenges us to look at our attitude toward what we have and how we use the time, talent, and treasure that the Lord has given us. Is my primary concern to take care of #1 and those important to me? Or do I recognize that all that I have is gift to be shared with others, as I am able? We need to balance the responsibility of taking care of ourselves and those for whom we are responsible with the obligation to help those in need.
For example, after I do what I have to do, how much of my free time do I spend on myself and how much do I spend on others, such as visiting shut-ins? After I shovel my own sidewalk, can I help an elderly person next door? What percentage of my income goes to charity? And so on.
We have been blessed. We have to take care of our responsibilities. The beatitudes challenge us to make sure our priorities are in line with God’s priorities and that we are sharing. How are we doing? God bless.
Church sign of the week: There is more than enough for our need but never enough for our greed.
The World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life was February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. In the United States, it is observed this weekend. We are asked to pray for all members of religious communities, as well as for vocations to religious life. Personally, I have had a wonderful and meaningful life as a Salvatorian religious. I invite our young people to consider a religious vocation; if you have questions, please ask me. I thank you for your prayers and I also thank all of you who have supported the Society of the Divine Savior in our annual Salvatorian Sunday collection. I appreciate it and will give a report on the amount donated when I get the information from our provincial office. God bless.
During these first weeks of Ordinary time, our readings present us with various “call” stories, that is, an invitation from God to an individual for a certain ministry or way of life. Last week we had Jeremiah’s story; this week we have Isaiah’s, as well as that of Peter, James, and John. One could argue that the last three were the “key” apostles, judging from their presence at the Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane.
All of these stories follow a certain pattern. First, the call comes out of the blue, when the person is doing something ordinary (Peter, James, and John were fishing). Then the person being called protests that they are not worthy (Peter: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”) But that doesn’t matter to the Lord. The Lord has called and it is HIS work to be done: the person doesn’t have to be “worthy.”
I bet you can guess where I am going with this: God has called each of us by name, at baptism, to do His will, just as he called Jeremiah, Isaiah, Peter, James, and John. He calls us in two ways. The first is the call to all Christians to live as Christ did, bringing His love, compassion, and forgiveness into our world. That is the bottom line, the ultimate goal of our Christian life: to bring about His Kingdom of Peace. Then comes the specific call or the framework in which each individual will live that basic goal. Will I be married, single, a parent, a religious, a doctor, a bus driver, a counselor, a priest, a teacher, a mechanic, etc., etc.? But no matter what, we are called and the ultimate goal is to bring about the Kingdom by the way we interact with people: with compassion, forgiveness and love.
Our gut reaction might be to claim we are not worthy, as did Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Peter. But we don’t have to be: it is not our work, it is God’s work. We are simply His instruments. He will accompany us and help us, He will support us. We just have to show up and do our best to be loving, forgiving, compassionate human beings, no matter what our specific call and situation in life might be. Are we rising to the challenge?
Church sign of the week (two signs, appropriate for World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life) :
Old nuns never die, they just kick their habits.
Old preachers never die, they just go out to pastor.