From Leonard Piasta our Faith Formation Chairperson

September 13 - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Forgive a loan - plead now

 

Have you ever heard of a lending institution forgiving a loan after pleading that you cannot pay back the loan? Forgiving a loan would truly be an act of forgiveness.

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In Mt 18:21-35, Peter asks Jesus, how many times must he give forgiveness to a brother who wronged him? Seven times? Jesus replies seventy times seven. Then Jesus tells a parable of the merciless official. This official owed a huge amount to the master but pleaded his case that he could not pay the huge debt. After hearing the pleading the master moved with pity forgave the the debt. The official then met a fellow servant who owed him a very small amount. He also could not pay his debt and pleaded his case. The official had his fellow servant jailed until the small amount was paid. When the forgiving master received word of the actions of the official he sent for him. The master sent the official to the torturers until the debt was paid. The master did so because the official showed no forgiveness to a fellow servant that he himself received for a much greater debt.

 

If we do not practice forgiveness and mercy, why should we expect forgiveness and mercy from others and God. The forgiveness and mercy of God knows no limit. As we pray the Our Father we say, '...and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those we trespass against us.' This petition of the Our Father, "... begs God's mercy for our offences, mercy which can penetrate our heart only if we learn to forgive our enemies, with the example and help of Christ." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2862) "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." (Mt 5:7) "If he sins against you seven times a day, and seven times a day turns back to you saying 'I am sorry' forgive him." (Lk17:4)

 

St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) writes, "If a man finds it very hard to forgive injuries, let him look at a crucifix and think that Christ has shed all his blood for him, and not only forgave his enemies, but prayed the Eternal Father to forgive them also. Let him remember also that when he says the Paster Noster (Our Father) every day instead of asking for pardon for his sins, he is calling down vengeance upon them."

 

"Be assured that one great means to find favor when we appear before God is to have pardoned the injuries we have received here below." (Ven. Louise de Granada 1505-1588)

 

 

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

 

September 14 is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This feast recalls three events concerning the Cross. First, it is the finding of the true cross of Jesus by St. Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine in 326 while making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The second is the dedication of the churches built on the sites of the Holy Sepulchre and Mount Calvary in 335. And third, the taking back of the cross by Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 614 that was earlier lost to the Persians. One third of the Holy Cross remained in Jerusalem, one third went to Rome and the last third was taken to Constantinople.

 

As a Catholic, the cross is just part of our life and faith. We see crosses, actually a crucifix, in our churches, in our homes. We pray the stations of the cross and see procession crosses. People wear crosses around their necks. Our rosaries have a cross on them. And do we not start our prayers with the sign of the cross. The following are a few reflections about the cross.

 

"Everything is a reminder of the cross. We ourselves are made in the shape of a cross." (St. John Vianney1786-1859)

 

"Let us not be ashamed of the Cross of Christ, but though another hide it. Do you seal it openly on your brow, that the demons, seeing the royal sign, may tremble and flee far away. Make this sign while eating and drinking, when sitting, lying down, rising, speaking or walking, in a word, on every occasion." (St. Cyril of Jerusalem 315-386) 

 

"A Silver Body on a Cross of Gold"

 

A silver body on a cross of gold

cold steel on precious metal

soft flesh on a rugged cross

a beauful sight.

 

A silver body on a cross of gold

carried in processions

hung on walls

high on churches

worn on breasts

a reminder of love, forgiveness, salvation

bright silver, brillant gold

a beautiful sign.

 

A silver body on a cross of gold

a symbol of defeat

yet

a symbol of victory

a beautiful death

a beautiful life

a silver body on a cross of gold.

 

(LCP)

 

"Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven." (St. Rose of Lima 1586-1612)

 

September 20 - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Who said life is fair?

 

Jesus tells a parable of an owner of a vineyard who hires workers at the usual daily wage. As the work day continues the owner hires additional workers throughout the day. At evening time the owner tells the foreman to pay the last hired workers first with a full day's wage. The workers who were hired in the morning also received their full day's wage that was agreed upon. The first hired workers complained why should those last hired workers receive a full day's wage since they worked only a few hours.The owner replies, "I do you no injustice. You agreed on the usual wage, did you not?" The owner goes on to say, " I am free to do as I please with my money, am I not? Or are you envious because I am generous?" (from Mt 20:1-16)

 

Who said life is fair? How many times have we heard this statement. We do see many inequalities in our daily lives. This gospel passage reminds us to do what we can to end such inequalities in our society. But the heart of this parable is a glimps into the reign of God. God is free to give us his grace to whomever, whenever and however in his manner. This parable gives us hope. There is no seniority with God's grace whether one was an Apostle, a first believer or will be the very last believer. God's grace is there to the fullest to all. And, who are we to complain about God's generousity. In the reign of God all are equal and all are given the fullest of God's grace. Whether one is first or last his grace is there for the giving. So who says life is fair? It is not fair by worldly standards but in the reign of God, God is always most generous and fair with his grace to all.

 

Your grace is enough 

 

Great is your faithfulness, Oh God

You wrestle with the sinner's heart

You lead us by still waters into your mercy

And nothing can keep us apart

So remember your people

Remember your children

Remember your promise, Oh God

Your grace is enough.

Your grace is enough.

Your grace is enough.

Your grace is enough for me.

 

Matt Maher (1974 - )

Composed 2008

 

September 27th - 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sinners striving for sainthood

 

(Mt 21:28-32) Jesus tells a parable of two sons to the Chief Priests and Elders of the community. The elder son was asked by his father to go work in the vineyard. The elder son replied 'yes' but never went to the vineyard. The second son was also asked to go work in the vineyard and replied 'no' but afterward regretted his decision and went to the vineyard. Jesus asked the assembly which son did what the father asked. They replied the second son. Jesus continues with the Chief Priests and Elders that tax collectors and prostitues are entering into the Kingdom of God before they do.

 

Jesus recounts that John preached a way of holiness. Those who heeded John's preaching such as tax collectors and prostitues realized the need for repentance in their lives and the forgiveness, mercy and love of God. Yet, the 'righteous' Jew saw and heard John yet did not repent or believed. To the 'righteous' Jew, obedience to the Law left no room for repentance. "They have met the supreme demand of Judaism with professions of obedience." (Fr. John L. McKenzie 1910-1991 JBC p.99). With obedience to the Law, one did not sin. The Chief Priests and Elders could not see themselves having a need to repent such as the tax collectors and the prosititues were doing. What John preached did not make sense to those who were "righteous.' Sin occurred if one was disobedient to the Law.

 

Are we like the Chief Priests and Elders when we just obey the the precepts and regulations and teachings of the Church, or just word our prayers but never take all of these things to heart? Have we not also heard the call of John for repentance? Have we not heard the proclamation of the Kingdom of God by Jesus? We need to look at our daily life and our interactions with others and realize there are times we need repentance. Blessed Paul VI (1897-1978) during a homily in September of 1964 stated, "In the language of respectable people today, in their books, in the things that they say about man, you will not find that dreadful word which, however frequent in the religious world - our world - especially in close relation to God: The word is 'sin,' ...one of the most penetrating and grave words of Pope Pius Xll (1876-1958), ... ' the modern world has lost the sense of sin.' What is this if not the rupture of our relationship with God, caused precisely by sin."

 

As a late holy priest would say," we are sinners striving for sainthood." Repent and believe.

The Domestic Church

In Unleash the Gospel, the pastoral letter from Archbishop Vigneron presents, "The family is the "domestic church" - the primary social unit which life in Christ, the life of the church, is experienced and lived." (Guide Post 7 - Families) "The family lives it's spirituality precisely by being at one and the same time a domestic church and a vital cell for the transforming the world." (Amoris Laetitia - Pope Francis) " Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst." (Mt18: 20)

During this "stay-at home" order, we can still be very active in practicing our faith in our domestic church. Though the parish web site, the Archdiocesean web site, other religious web sites of prayer and reflection, Mass for the shut-ins, private and family prayer (saying grace together at meals, pray the rosary, pray the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be or some other prayers that touch you) call or email someone and take time for silence in your life. We can use what is available to us and enjoy the presence of Jesus in our homes and families. We await the day when we will be able again to celebrate as a gathered community in Jesus Christ. Peace be with you.