Saturday, October 18, 2014

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A - 2014

After hearing passage from the Gospel all of us have to ask ourselves

what in our lives belongs to God and what belongs to Caesar?

Yes everything we have comes from God.

In God we find our origin, our reason to live, and our ultimate goal.

In everything we do we should try to live our lives as God would have us live them.

God obviously comes first … and God’s will comes first.

And when we put God’s Word and God’s will first in our lives,  then we will be the best husband or wife, the best dad or mom, the best person, and the best citizen we can, be no matter what our calling in life.

But the parable clearly teaches that we also owe something to our Brothers and Sisters and to our society… “give to Ceasar what is Caesar's”

Because we benefit from many things in our country we are obligated to contribute to the common Good.

We share the benefit of the roads and the infrastructure and we are obligated to share in their expense. Obviously Giving to Caesar means being willing to pay our fair share of taxes.

But being a responsible Catholic citizen demands more.

The Gospel teaches us that we are all brothers and sisters.

Therefore we need to live lives of service.

We should be involved in our communities.

We should go beyond the bare minimum in helping those in need.

We should coach little league teams,

and camp out with scouts.

We should wash cars for the next band trip and donate food to the food bank.

We should share with those in need and those who go without.

For followers of Christ living lives of service and sharing with those in need are are not a pious extras.

They are part and parcel of the Gospel’s call to love one another has God has loved us.

Very Sadly we all fall short on this and our Holy Father Pope Francis is challenging us to change this.

If we all did a little more the world would be such a better place.

Our country and our culture

needs our participation in our common life.

We do this in several ways:

The first is obviously by voting.

When we go to vote it is our right and our duty to take with us all of our values and ideas.

We have a right and an obligation to vote according to our conscience

weighing carefully what every candidate clearly stands for and comparing them to the gospel values which should mold and shape our lives.

But our call to participate goes beyond simply voting in elections.

All of us are also called to participate in our culture by helping to form it.  This is really important.

We are called to contribute to the discussion which shapes our culture and its values.

Our culture needs our values,

Our culture needs our ideas our hopes and our dreams

Our culture needs our witness.

Our culture needs us.

And don’t let anyone tell you that our values can’t be part of the public discussion because they are rooted in our religious faith.

That’s not what the constitution meant by separation of church and state.

When our forefathers wrote about the separation of Church and State they were wisely forbidding a formal state religion not the exclusion of religious values from public life.

The constitution itself was formed in part by the religious beliefs and values of those who wrote it.

We have a right to share our beliefs no matter where they come from.

Let’s participate, let’s discuss, let’s debate let’s listen to the ideas of others and engage them.

So How do we give to Caesar what is Caesar's then?

By living lives of service and sharing with those less fortunate.

By voting with our conscience and our values.

By participating in the formation of our culture.

And doing all these things with a gentle and loving heart.

This is what giving to Caesar what is Caesar's is all about.

Today’s second collection is for World Mission Sunday… a perfect chance to share with those who are less fortunate in the world.

It’s a perfect chance to give to God what is God’s and give to Caesar what is Caesar's.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Twenty Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A - 2014

All of humanity, every single person who ever was and ever will be,
is called to the heavenly banquet.

The Heavenly Banquet, also so known as, eternal communion with God.

God calls or invites us in so many ways.

He calls in the quiet of a star filled night.
He calls in the glance of two people in love.

God calls when you hold your child with wonder and awe for the first time.

He calls at the glance of a majestic mountain range or the gentle sound of a stream making its way to the sea.

He calls in prayer and the quiet prompting of our conscience.

The clearest way that God calls is through His Word Jesus.
Jesus God’s son reveals so much about God and about us.

God also calls us through His words in the sacred scriptures and the living tradition of the Church.

God doesn’t call us once to the banquet. He calls us over and over and over again, day in our day out, whether we listen or not.
God just keeps calling.

Sadly as the Gospel explained today many who are called or invited simply refuse to come.

They refuse or we refuse for lots of reasons:
Some think they have a better offer here and now.

Many are so preoccupied, so worried, about the now of their lives, that they can’t even think about forever.

And so the first lesson of this Gospel is that simply that everyone is called over and over again to the banquet but sadly tragically many can’t seem to say yes to God’s invitation.

When many refuse the invitation the master sends out his servants to invite those who at first glance wouldn’t seem to fit into a heavenly banquet or any banquet for that matter.

The servants go out and invite sinners, the poor, the addicted, the angry, the lonely, you know people who never seem to fit in or those we are quick to judge.

They accept the invitation because through all their hard knocks they have come to understand that the path they are on and the world in which we live just can’t seem satisfy.

Sometimes when a person hits their head hard enough they can figure out that they are on the wrong road and change the path they are they are on and the choices that they make.
The second lesson of the Gospel is just as important as the first.
For some reason there was a man who accepted the invitation  was thrown out because he was not properly attired.

You see It is simply not enough to say yes to God’s invitation without changing our heart.

That’s what the man who was not properly attired tried to do.

In order to attend the heavenly banquet we have to clothe ourselves in a wedding garment made of acts of kindness and charity and virtue.

Accepting God’s call necessitates a change of heart and a change in what we value and how we live.

The man said yes to the invitation but did not change.

Let us listen to God’s Call.
Let us accept the invitation to the heavenly banquet.
Let us change our hearts and minds.
Let us cloth ourselves with acts of kindness and generosity, mercy, and forgiveness

And one day may we be welcomed wholeheartedly into the heavenly banquet which God so desperately wants us to attend.


Saturday, October 04, 2014

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A- 2014

Brothers and sisters:

In the second reading today we heard…

Have no anxiety at all,

but in everything,

by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving,

make your requests known to God.

Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding

will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

These are words that all of us have to take to heart. They are very important words

This has been a long week.

There have been meetings every day, morning noon and night, our parish is a big family with lots of needs someone is sick someone has a problem, not to mention the administrative tasks that consume a lot of my time and the parish staff time.

Perhaps the most challenging moment this week was Linda Compochiaro’s funeral.

She was a young Mom with two beautiful kids and a loving husband.

We all know that we prayed for Linda’s complete recovery.

We prayed over and over again.

There were hundreds of people concerned and praying for Linda’s recovery and her family.

We prayed with confidence and trust like the second reading encouraged us to do.

We know that God loves Linda and her family very much because God loves all of us.

There is not a doubt in my mind that God heard our prayers but the answer was simply no.

Our faith teaches us that God is all good and all powerful and all loving.

It follows then that if God is all good..

God could never do evil

If God is all powerful In other words there is nothing good that God can’t do.

And if God is all loving the way how answers our prayers is limited only by His love for us.

In other words God must always do the most loving thing because God is love.

So at first glance it’s hard to understand why Linda or why anyone young and vibrant is not spared.

So many sincere good people asked me that question this week this week.

As we journey through life It’s so important to remember only God has the big picture only God see and understand the whole plan.

Only God can see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

In this case God called Linda home because somehow it must have been the most loving thing to do for her.

Last year God called another young Mom Laura Pagliaruli home because somehow it must have been the most loving thing to do for her.

The death of anyone we love is a very difficult for those of us to remain and in moments like that or any crisis often all we can hold onto is God is Good, God is Powerful, God is Love.

I don’t pretend to be always comfortable with the way God answers our prayers but I do believe in God’s love for each and everyone of us. 

An old farmer here in Berlin was rushed to the hospital a couple of years ago when I first got here.

Immediately his family called up the parish and I ran up to the Hospital to anoint him.

When I saw him in bed I realized that I recognized him.

I always used to see him stopping by church  all the time during the day to say a couple of prayers.

After he was anointed and received communion  surrounded by his family he said to me Father please help my family.

Help them understand if God heals me and I get to stay here with my family I win.

If God does not heal me and I die to be with Him I win

I can’t lose and I am not afraid.

The funeral Director called the next day he had died that very night.

That simple man’s words and that simple man’s faith was a great comfort to his family and a great comfort to me.

Yes God asks us to pray..

God asks us to put our petitions before him with faith.

But he never promises we will get what we want or what we think is best remember we don’t know the whole picture.

Rather, God he makes us a beautiful promise,

Once we have placed our needs before him and trust in his love....

the peace of God which surpasses all understanding

will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Have a good day everyone.