Show Spiritual Maturity!

Peace and Grace to you!

The Kingdom of Heaven experience requires a radical break from natural to spiritual maturity.

In the first reading, David has an opportunity to “payback” Saul for all his meanness and dirty dealing toward David.  Saul is jealous and behaves as jealous is: hateful and mean.  David, on his part, shows a preference and a reverence for spiritual maturity through a willful desire to obey God’s Word.  David’s love for God moves him beyond seeking his own form/desire of justice into seeking what pleases God.  David’s experience of receiving injustice has not hardened his heart, it has brought about the divine fruit and trait of compassion.  He shows wisdom and spiritual maturity, magnanimity of character, by showing mercy to Saul.  David recognizes that God established Saul in leadership, and it is God who will deal with Saul, just as God will deal with David himself.  Is this perspective valued toward public leaders and leaders of faith communities today?

In the Gospel we continue with the Sermon on the Plain.  Jesus knows well that human nature is strongly inclined to move in the wrong direction (concupiscence).  He sets forth some radical instructions.  They’re radical because they move us beyond our natural inclinations to a spiritual maturity that leads us into a Kingdom of Heaven experience and friendship with God.  If Jesus is delivering this set of principles to us, then he is instructing us to be his disciples and he will help us live them out.  No matter how difficult and no matter if we fail, we must be found in pursuit of living the principles of Christian life as best as we can.  “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” is not an option to the believer but a goal at heart.  Putting away an insult or criticism saves a life (you shall not kill).  Saving a life saves the world one at a time.  Blessings to you! +++ Fr. Peter

Stewards of God’s Gifts

Peace and grace to you!

As we listen to Jeremiah’s lamentations and hard-earned wisdom about the frailty and fickleness of human beings, we are given a stern reminder that in the end, God is the only one where we can place our ultimate trust. Luke’s Gospel is the sermon on the plain in which are included the blessed and the woes.

Jesus gives a message of hope for those who experience a lack or deficit in material things like possessions or wealth and he also includes the lack of friendship and emotional comfort. Jesus shows how compassionate God is. God cares about every person’s human needs!

While expressing a message of hope to those without, Jesus seems to be warning those who have possessions, wealth, comfort and friendship that they are enjoying what will not last. There will come a time when they must give an account of their stewardship of how they used what they had.

Stewardship is an invitation to partner with God and make God the priority and director over all that one has. The greatest gift that we have is divine love. God gifts us with his own life and love in the Eucharist. We are stewards of this!

“Woe to you” can be turned around and become “blessed are you” when we are good stewards!

Blessed, fortunate and happy are you who are rich in money, power, influence, time and talent because we can do much for the poor, the marginalized, the alien, mentally ill, the prisoner and the lonely! We can lift their burden! But only if we have the heart and mind of Christ to recognize them as God’s children and act to care for them. We need them as much as they need us! We can experience the blessedness of the kingdom when we place ourselves and our possessions in God’s service. May God continue to enrich you in every way! +++ Fr. Peter

Listen for God’s Call!

Peace to you!

We have been reflecting the last few weeks on a kind of process through which God calls people to active discipleship. A few weeks ago we heard Samuel’s story and how he had to learn how to listen and discern that God sometimes calls in the night when we are not so occupied with daily activity. The Gospel story on the day of Jesus’ baptism said that a dove landed on Jesus and voice from heaven said “this is my beloved son.”

Isaiah explains how terrified he is at his vision of the “Lord of Hosts.” He acknowledges that he is unworthy to be in the presence of the Holy God and fears death because of it but the angel calms his fears by cleansing him. Isaiah is forever changed! Filled with holy joy and zeal, he responds to God’s call “here I am, send me!”

St. Paul expresses something similar to Isaiah’s sense of personal unworthiness and we remember the story of his encounter with the risen Lord. St. Paul was changed by his encounter and responded to God’s call in the same way as Isaiah: he was sent to proclaim the Good News!

This weekend we hear the story of Jesus calling Peter, Andrew, James and John to leave their boats and nets to follow him and become fishers of men. Peter was immediately seized with fear and in response to that Jesus immediately calmed him with the words “Do not be afraid.” Like Isaiah, Peter’s life was forever changed.

The call stories are always interesting and powerful for us because they help us focus on listening and following God in new and deeper ways. They also remind us of the past when God has called us to himself and to experience something new, something of how wonderful he is. It is normal to feel uncertain or afraid at first but our faith assures us that the Lord is at our side. God bless you in your mission to proclaim the Gospel! +++ Fr. Peter

The Importance of Teaching

Peace to you!

The most important daily activity Jesus engaged in during his life on earth was teaching. True we love the stories about Jesus healing the lame and the sick, giving sight to the blind, cleansing the lepers and raising the dead but more important than all of those miracles is his teaching.

In the Gospel, we pick up from where we left off last weekend and all the people were amazed at the gracious words that Jesus spoke. But suddenly, things changed—drastically! By the end of the account, they wanted to kill him! Why? Because Jesus knew they didn’t believe what he taught them and that a miracle would only fascinate them. Sincere faith however, doesn’t need a miracle. The miraculous events for the widow of Sidon and Naaman the Syrian were given because sincere faith was already there.

This week we pay attention to Catholic schools—and Catholic education. I was educated in a Catholic school by Dominican Sisters from first to twelfth grade. Then later, my college undergraduate and graduate level studies were completed with the Benedictines at Mt. Angel Seminary. Looking back, I believe that the greatest gift I have ever received in my life has been an education and more importantly, a Catholic one. What makes it distinctive? It’s not just learning to read, write, do math or play sports. A Catholic education is first of all grounded in belief and practice. The Catholic values that form the whole person travel into whatever activities we engage in and become part of our institutional structures including business corporations, city hall and national policies. This ensures honesty; not corruption, justice; not inequality, compassion and care for others; not cruelty and cold indifference, love; not hate.

The value that the Catholic school environment brings to our places of activity is virtually inestimable! It is beyond an earthly price and it leads to an eternal reward for the individual and society!

Not many of our families are able to attend a Catholic school these days. We know that this increases the importance of our religious education programs in the parish setting. I am very impressed and proud of our families that volunteer and make the effort to teach the faith to our children and adults. Teaching and learning the faith is a top priority for the mission of the Church.

As the Annual Catholic Appeal is near, keep in mind that the support we give is needed and a large percentage of the Appeal income supports Catholic education. God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter