August 28 – Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Life is a banquet and most poor folks are starving to death.”
(Quote by Patrick Dennis from the play Auntie Mame)
As we begin to enjoy the fruits of the harvest, we hear the refrain from Psalm 68 used as the Responsorial Psalm: “God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.” I read in the paper how many people responded to the unrest in Sherman Park on August 14 and the days that followed by helping clean up the mess after the burning and looting of several businesses. Many churches and others of good will brought food and water to help those in need and created prayer circles to simply ask for the Lord’s intervention in the area affected by violence. Closer to home, many miracles happen through our four parish outreach ministries, such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The Riverwest Food Pantry helps our shoppers to regain a sense of dignity and learn to eat and cook healthy food. A word of thanks to our staff and many volunteers who help invite others to the banquet of life.
Both the first reading from Sirach and the gospel from Luke 14:1,7-14 invite us to open our eyes as we approach the needs of the poor in our world. Jesus ben Sira and Jesus of Nazareth invite their disciples to develop an attitude of humility. The word humility comes from the Latin word humus (earth). In humility and reverence we approach each person as another Christ, even with all their flaws. Reverence helps prevent us from trying to act like gods. Jesus is very wise as he asks us to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and blind to our homes for a meal. As we sing at Mass: “All are welcome.”
Perhaps the one thing that we can put into practice in such a divided world as ours is to reach out to the person we don’t know or understand and have a meaningful conversation. Who are you inviting to your next event?
Fr. Mike Michalski
August 21 – Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
I am reading a beautiful book of hope in these very difficult days of violence and unrest. Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, whose ministry is to the gangs of Los Angeles, wrote Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion (FreePress, 2010).
In it he writes: “There is a longing in us all to be God-enthralled. So enthralled that to those hunkered down in their disgrace, in the shadow of death, we become transparent messengers of God’s own tender mercy. We want to be seized by that same tenderness; we want to bear the largeness of God” (p. 45).
In our readings this Sunday we are challenged to bring people to God. In the current climate of culture and politics, the largeness of God, his magnificent and loving plan of salvation for this crazy human race, must be borne by us in our radical mercy and love. There is only one answer to violence and the great lack of respect present in so many ways—try to be as large and loving as God!
Try to get past any small heartedness you might be feeling. Try to remove the blinders of prejudices and phobias, so it is possible to see others as God sees them. Try (and this is a hard one for me!) not to think so much of yourself and your worries, to trust more and live more generously for others a day at a time.
Try to live more transparently your belief in the God of Mercy, saved in your smallness by a love so great that even death on a Cross could not defeat it.
Keep trying. As the second reading today says, “So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees” (Hebrews, ch. 12). Keep trying. Keep trying.
Sincerely, with love,
August 14 – Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“The time we live in does not call for young ‘couch potatoes’ but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced. It only takes players on the first string, and it has no room for bench warmers.”
Pope Francis had a strong message for the many young people who attended the Prayer Vigil for World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. Just as he did in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, Pope Francis invited the youth of our day to make a radical choice for Jesus Christ and reject being paralyzed to all the challenges in our culture. In his own style, he said that some people confuse happiness with a good sofa. With an addiction to electronic media, we can live a “virtual” life and be numb to the pain and suffering of our world. Pope Francis goes on to say: “My friends, Jesus is the Lord of risk, of the eternal “more”. Jesus is not the Lord of comfort, security and ease. Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage….”
The images used by Jesus in today’s gospel of fire and baptism fit in well with the Pope’s comments. This is a good news/bad news gospel. The coming of Jesus and his message have caused the world to experience the fire of separation, as he commented on divisions within family relationships in his culture that were bound to the norms of the clan and the Jewish religious tradition. The good news that Jesus does bring is a message of peace. The only way to Easter glory is through the cross and disciples of the Lord will be misunderstood and persecuted even for what may seem the right reasons. The second reading from the letter to the Hebrews encourages us to look at Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb.12:2).
Monday, August 15, the church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because it lands on a Monday, it is not a holy day of obligation. However, the Solemnity will be celebrated at the 7:00 am and 12:05 pm Masses at Old St. Mary and at the 8:15 am Mass at Our Lady of Divine Providence, St. Casimir Parish. According to tradition, bouquets of flowers and herbs are brought to church to be blessed. Mary shared in the glory of her Son’s resurrection, as one day we will.
Blessings to you in these final weeks of summer!
Fr. Mike Michalski
August 7 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”
In these frightening times, prayer is the only answer. The above prayer was given to me and has helped me to find balance in the challenges my heart is feeling. Hope it will help you as well.
Christ tells us in this Sunday’s Gospel that where your treasure is, there your heart will be as well. Our deepest prayer is for peace. As we move forward, let our hearts be with Christ! He will help us with his grace so we can help each other!
Sincerely, with love,