The central message of this Sunday’s readings is that we are meant to courageously speak out and live out our religious convictions and principles in our lives. That is what Jeremiah did, what Paul did, and what Jesus did. And we are also called to do that…even if our doing so should result in some difficulty, or even our martyrdom. Pope Francis has encouraged us all to get out in the world and stir things up. If no one is ever offended by the quality of our commitment to Christ, then perhaps we are practicing “inoffensive Christianity.” Bible scholars point out that this passage we heard today is not an attack by Jesus on the family as such, but it is a recounting of His insistence that His followers have an even greater loyalty toward Him than they do to the members of their own families. In the extreme case of having to choose between Jesus and their own family, a person is demanded by Jesus to have absolute loyalty to Himself…to our Triune God.
We are all challenged, more today than ever before, in these modern times, to be courageously active and vocal in combating the ever-increasing anti-Catholic and anti-Christian efforts by radical groups that are seeking to purge religion and public prayer from our society. Sinful people have been spreading their sinful agendas from political platforms, to government offices and courts, right down to the school rooms of America. Our government’s legalization of both so-called same-sex marriage and of killing pre-born babies, does not make these actions moral. They are always gravely sinful. In fact, they (abortion and sodomy), no matter how you look at them, are intrinsically immoral and evil. That has been determined by the inspired Word of God…which has not been embraced by a large percentage of our society, and has indeed caused the the division Jesus spoke of in today’s Gospel. His Word is met so often with the competing deceit and allure of the ever-tempting Satan who knows we have a free will that allows us the freedom to choose and support evil activities, and this has also caused division.
We may never be called to lose our life for Jesus as he lost His life for us, but we are, and will continue to be, called every day to challenges and to choices (some quite difficult) in order to safeguard His Primacy, His ranking number one in importance among the loyalties and loves of our hearts. A big part of that call is to educate ourselves on the moral issues of the day (abortion, homosexuality, sodomy, so-called same sex marriage) and to take on the role we have been given as prohets and educate others in your circle of influence…starting with your family. Do not remain silent. Fix your eyes and attention on Him and His clear precepts that all are catalysts for family peace. If you succumb to the social lies and evil laws that abound (or simply ignore them with apathy), your peace will surely turn to division.
Transitioning from the Gospel message to the needs of our local church, I want to thank the 67 parishioners who have so far checked off and submitted their questionnaires regarding our goal of building a Perpetual Adoration Ministry within our parish. I am, not at all, expecting that everyone will be able to commit to a fixed time, or (for some) even have any time at all to fit this grace-filled, life-changing endeavor into their schedule. However, it would be, oh so, encouraging to receive responses from at least 50% of our adult parishioners. It is a proven statistic that parishes begin to thrive, in the all-important spiritual aspects, when they start pleasing the Lord with the gift of praising and glorifying Him with perpetual Adoration. As Our Lady spoke to the seers (and us) at Fatima, we faithful all have been called to pray in reparation for all the outrages and sacrileges that have been committed against His Real Presence in the consecrated Host. Our committed, heartfelt adoration answers that call.
We have grown tremendously in the number of parishioners in my time here as pastor. Sadly, we have not grown in similar fashion in the number (or even the percentage) of parishioners coming forward with the offer of some of their time and talent. There are some new people who have come forward and offered their talents (God bless them) and contributed greatly, but with our tremendous growth, there are now a great many new opportunities and needs for involvement. However, we are nowhere near the infamous 80/20 reality regarding contributors that exists in most parishes (that being the case where 20% of the people contribute in support of the 80% who do not).
We have our Stewardship of Time and Talent Fair coming up in the near future (the weekend of September 17 & 18). Please give prayerful thought concerning where you might be able to contribute. We have needs in most every ministry. We need choir members, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist—both for service at Mass and for taking communion to the homebound. We need catechists to help with he instruction of our children, both for Religious Education and our Youth Group. We need to build a team of website helpers, RCIA sponsors and presenters. We need leaders and helpers for our new Adult Formation programs. We need more ushers and prayer group members. The list goes on, and I pray daily that more and more will be moved by the Spirit to come forward to offer some of their time, talents and assistance. It really is a win-win opportunity.
Yours in Christ,