July 31 – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and the greed that is idolatry.” (Col.3:5)
While I could talk about the many challenges that face our world, especially this month of July, I would like to focus on one part of Paul’s message to the Colossians: the greed that is idolatry. Behind many of the problems in our world today that include war, poverty and attacks on individuals based on their profession or religion or sexual orientation, lies the demon called greed. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists greed as one of the capital sins which can lead to other sins or vices. Jesus never condemned possessions or riches. What he does condemn is the attachment to possessions.
Like Linus in the Peanuts cartoon series, we seek our security blanket, which in some ways is normal. We all want a sense of security and sufficient goods so we can live a tranquil life. We try to plan for the future by investing our money so we can live out our retirement without worry. But there are so many things that we have no control over as we see in today’s gospel from Luke 12, where the rich man who has placed his trust in his many possessions dies. The author of Ecclesiastes reminds us that “all is vanity.” Pope Francis is quoted on Twitter as saying that, “If you hoard material possessions, they will rob you of your soul.”
The Christian tradition, based on Jesus’ teachings, encourages us to use our time, talent and treasure for the glory of God and the benefit of our brothers and sisters. In true stewardship, we share our gifts which we have received from a generous God. We seek a way to distribute the world’s goods and resources so that the least among us has enough to live. Since Paul advises us that “Christ is all and in all,” we seek to understand our brothers and sisters. Our ministry of pastoral care and outreach and empowerment is based on the conviction that, in helping anyone in need or any victim of injustice, we are helping Christ.
Have a great week, and please pray for peace in our world and for all first responders and those in law enforcement.
Fr. Mike Michalski
July 24 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.” (Mother Teresa)
My heart is breaking at what is happening in our world. I am searching for answers to articulate the madness of violence and lack of respect, the complete disregard for human life and dignity. Death has gripped our experience, and it seems the Devil is having a huge party at our expense.
And then I think of all who have gone before us and bravely faced violence and horror in each and every period of recorded history. And then I think of God who created us, redeemed us, and sustains us with the absolute promise that through his Son Jesus not even the gates of hell would prevail against us.
And then I think, like Mother Teresa, that I must open up my heart to all who suffer in our broken world, and carry them to the heart of Jesus in prayer. I must take time to be with Jesus, to be filled with the Spirit, to be comforted and renewed, and to be strengthened so that I can be strength to all who are hurting.
The saints reformed the world not by political ideology, not by human effort, but by grace, the divine initiative that once we accept it as our starting point, leads us home and brings true justice and peace for all.
The starting point is simple. It begins with kneeling.
Sincerely, with love,
July 17 – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.” (Lk 8:15)
Summertime is a time of vacations, picnics and visiting with friends. Many people attend our churches over the summer for weddings and weekend liturgies; some folks want to visit the parish where they were married so many years ago. I will be on vacation over this weekend, visiting my cousin Mary and her husband Allen in Florence, WI. I always enjoy their company. They are good hosts and very hospitable.
The first reading from Genesis 18 shows how Abraham welcomed three visitors on a journey when the day was growing hot and provided a sumptuous meal on the spur of the moment. One of the visitors promised to return at the same time next year when Sarah would bear a son. God has visited his people!
The gospel from Luke 10:38-42 is the familiar story of Martha and Mary. So many scholars have commented on this reading with the familiar contrast between the active and contemplative life. There is more here than the details of hospitality versus accepting Jesus in our hearts. Thomas Keating, who is a well-known expert on centering prayer, has a nice chapter on this story in one of his books. Martha represents the false self, whose unconscious needs affect her daily life and service of God. It’s like saying to God, “Give me what I want or else I won’t pray anymore.” Martha’s life is out of control, since her sister Mary is sitting at the feet of the Lord. Mary, however, represents another stage on our spiritual journey, where we move beyond the words of Jesus to a loving communion with the divine presence. That is the message from St. Paul today in his letter to the Colossians.
Finally, if the core of the gospel is “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” then our contemplation and prayerful reflection lead to a different kind of service that sees Christ in the poor, the victims of injustice and all who come to our door. Pope Francis asks that the doors of our churches be open at all times. While this is not feasible right now, I invite you to participate in OremusMKE on July 30 at Three Holy Women Parish-St. Hedwig’s Church. Whether it’s at Bastille Days, Riverwest 24 or Brady Street Festival, we have a golden opportunity to reach out to others. Open your hearts to Christ, who is knocking at the door, and welcome your neighbor in.
Fr. Mike Michalski
July 10 – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“What we would like to do is change the world – make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do.” (Dorothy Day, in the Catholic Worker, June 1946)
Sometimes I am amazed at two things—how simple and direct the Gospel message is and how difficult we tend to make it in our daily living. Our readings this Sunday drive the point home. We know what we should be doing, but we need constant reminding to just do it!
It goes without saying that the poor are at the heart of Jesus’ mission, and that his deepest desire is that his followers find compassionate and creative ways to help them. I am so proud of our parishes and their commitment to the poor and to peace and justice, but I am convinced we need to be doing more!
We live at such painful and ambiguous times, divided in so many ways and experiencing a violent and disrespectful culture. In our simple acts of goodness to each other and to the poor and with respect for all life, we can at least make a little progress, but I am praying with all my heart as to what do we need to do as individuals and as parish communities to expand the way we live the gospel. Please pray with me that God will guide us and give us the compassion, the creativity, the energy and drive to make it happen! How we do that, I am not quite sure. But I am sure that God will tell us!
Sincerely, with love,
July 3 – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Let the peace of Christ control your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Col 3:15a, 16a)
This weekend we celebrate the 140th anniversary of our Independence Day as the United States of America. Many people will celebrate with picnics, parades and fireworks. Our politicians will remind us of the core values that our nation was founded upon with the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. It is fitting to praise God for all the blessings we have received as Americans as we still struggle to make the visions and dreams of our ancestors a reality.
Last Sunday we began the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, according to Luke’s perspective. He invited us to take up our cross daily and not let things get in the way of preaching the gospel. Today, as Jesus sent out the seventy-two others on mission, we are given the opportunity during this summertime to follow suit. Jesus reminds us that some will accept the message; others will outright reject it. While I enjoy preaching at Mass and celebrating the Sacred Liturgy and the sacraments, I am well aware of the secular “liturgy” going on around me. I often joke that if you can’t find me at one of our parishes, I am usually at one of my favorite spots like Whole Foods, Beans and Barley or Colectivo. I often find that when I meet a parishioner outside of the church setting, wherever that may be, we are on an even playing field. People see me in a different light and share more of what is going on in their lives. I can do as much ministry in that kind of setting as I do within the official structures of the Catholic Church. Jesus entrusts that same task to us as well. Whether we are on vacation, at the beach or visiting with family and friends, we have the same opportunity to preach the gospel.
The harder task that Jesus gave us is to preach the gospel in a setting that is indifferent or hostile to the gospel, as we cast out Satan. There are many challenges in our world where people are persecuted for their political and religious beliefs. Our own bishops continue to commemorate a “fortnight for freedom” from June 21-July 4 to pray and fast for protection for religious liberty in our own country and in the world.
Please join us for Mass on July 4 at 9:00 am at Three Holy Women – St. Hedwig Church. God bless America and all lands with the gift of freedom and peace. Have a nice 4th of July celebration. See you in church!
Fr. Mike Michalski