The bishop’s suspension of the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday will expire on September 14th, as stated in his letter (link) included at the end of our parish newsletter, newly named The Parish Press, which you should have received this week. He explains conditions under which it is still acceptable not to attend. We will continue to employ the highest safety procedures at our Masses and the Mass will be posted on our website for the indefinite future. I can’t wait until I can be in the back of church and greet everyone as before!
September 1st through October 4th, the feast of St. Francis, is called the “Season of Creation.” We are invited to reflect on God’s marvelous creation and commit ourselves to doing our part to protect it, for example, joining our Justice and Peace Commission’s river cleanup project, which will be announced in the bulletin in coming weeks.
A debt is something we HAVE to take care of. Paul tells the Romans in our reading this weekend that we OWE it to others to love them. It is an obligation. He adds that when one loves others, that person fulfills all the law.
Jesus comes back to this theme over and over. When asked what is the greatest commandment, He responds love of God, but then quickly raises love of neighbor to the same level. THAT WAS NEW for the Jews. When asked who is “my neighbor,” he responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. When we look at our world, at our country, our state, our city, it is obvious this very clear message is needed.
In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus instructs his disciples to work diligently to have good relationships with others. In any relationship there are conflicts and tensions – it is part of being human. But a true Christian works to resolve the conflicts peacefully. That is a critical part of loving others.
Christians need to take a lead in modeling this in our country. If we do not find a way to dialog with each other, to agree on a way to move forward, and to cooperate in making it happen, our country will continue to disintegrate. And Jesus tells us how: go to the other person and be willing to work things out. If that does not work, get others to help, and so on. But the point is we need to be trying to work things out, not name calling and dismissing those who disagree with us.
I urge each one of us to resolve that we will do our very best to bring unity and not division, to resolve differences rather than widening gaps, to act out of love and not anger or hate.
This is difficult, but God will help us, if we give Him the chance. To love one another, to end divisions and disagreements, to work together for the common good are NOT optional. They are basic Gospel values: they are a debt that we owe to each other. Let us make sure we are paying off our debt to others. And let us support each
other in prayer, as we struggle to do so. God bless.