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July 2017 Weekly Bulletin Messages

July 30 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Because you asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches,
nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—I do as you requested.”
(1Kings, ch.3)

Dear Friends,
This passage from King Solomon’s prayer when he was made king always moves my heart. In the middle of the complexities of life—my own personal and the communal realities we all struggle with—the desire is to have a heart that maybe can’t explain away the complexity, but at least helps us to find peace living with complexity.

Jesus himself lived in the midst of a world he loved with all his heart, but also a world that in so many ways broke his heart. But he never stopped trying to understand the many issues he came across by trying to understand the people behind the issues.

Whenever I face difficult people, I try to understand what is going on in their lives that makes them so difficult! Whenever I am in a difficult mood, I try to understand what is going on in my life that is making me so difficult! It always goes back not to the problems, but to the person, and as soon as we see people and not just problems, the complexities become easier to bear. We are all in this together!

So, a simple understanding-heart exercise this week might be to just notice people and pray for the grace to always see them as people, not as difficulties or problems. And this includes everyone, not just people who are like us and agree with us!

Have a blessed week!
Sincerely, with love,
Fr. Tim

July 23 – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
(Quote often attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero but probably penned by Bishop Ken Untener.)

Dear Friends:

During this summer season of growing, we continue reading the parables of Matthew chapter 13:24-43. Last week we reflected on the power of God’s power and the challenge of hearing the word. This weekend we hear the familiar parable of the weeds and wheat, found only in Matthew and focus on the constant struggle in our lives between good and evil.

Any farmer or gardener can tell you that at times it is hard to distinguish if a particular plant is of value or is a noxious weed. One story I read indicated that what once looked like rhubarb turned out to be burdock, a plant that can be eaten or used for medicine; burdock is also the source for Velcro. The Greek word that Jesus used for weed is zizania. It looked pretty much like wheat until the harvest arrived.

While the parable of the weeds and the wheat talk about a final harvest where the weeds will be burned and the wheat stored in barns, I am struck by how much my own life is a mixture of good qualities and bad habits, of sinful tendencies and moments of grace. Last month I began to realize how overarching is the mercy of God who calls us to repentance and yet patiently waits until we “come home.” While I still tend to be judgemental, I am learning to give people the benefit of the doubt. In a society that through the social media puts people into categories or is unwilling to give others another chance, we are reminded by Paul: “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness….” The church is a corpus mixtum, a community of saints and sinners. So take some time this summer to sit in your back yard or in a park or by the lakeshore and marvel at the beauty of God’s creation. May the Holy Spirit guide us to “see” the Christ in each person we meet.

Fr. Mike Michalski

July 16 – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God
can count the number of apples in a seed.”

(Robert Schuller)

Dear Friends,

The beautiful parables we hear this time of the church year are filled with basic, common-sense images that are meant to challenge us. This Sunday we hear about sowing seeds and the soil that they fall upon.

I would venture to say that Jesus knew exactly what image he wanted to use to remind folks that we must be very careful about the planting of seeds. With our words and actions we can produce so much growth and harvest, or we can create destruction and despair. Let’s choose our words carefully and realize that they are powerful tools for growth or weapons for destruction.

I would venture to say that Jesus knew exactly what image he wanted to use to remind folks that we must be very careful about the kind of soil we are in our attitudes and outlooks. With our hearts hardened and bitter, or our lives filled with so much preoccupation and worry, we can cancel out any potential for growth for true happiness for ourselves or for others. The soil of our lives rooted only in ourselves instead of the open-hearted living and loving Christ calls us to, can produce such misery, and loneliness. Let’s choose what kind of soil we want to be—open to new growth and possibility or hardened and tangled by our selfish preoccupations.

Have a blessed week!
Sincerely, with love,
Fr. Tim

July 9 – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends:

One of the many blessings that I count in our family of four parishes is the presence of so many children through Catholic East Elementary and our Christian Formation programs ESCYM and Old St. Mary. I appreciate our prayerful liturgies with enthusiastic singing. I enjoy preaching and teaching our children and see how in many ways they echo the words of Jesus:

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.” (Matt 11:25-30)

At the end of the school year ’16-’17 at Catholic East, I received a plant and a plaque from the third grade for being a Good Steward. I was given a stack of storied written by older students along with the younger kids, complete with drawings. The short stories are titled: Fr. Mike’s Time Travel Journeys. It is delightful reading.

Jesus, like the prophet Daniel, praises God for revealing the mysteries of the Kingdom to the simple, the little ones, and the disciples. Fulfilling the prophecy found in Zechariah (today’s first reading), Jesus comes as a meek king riding on an ass, the beast of burden. Like a good rabbi Jesus invites us to take his yoke (another word for teaching) upon our shoulders and learn from the Master who carries all of our burdens.

In our overly complicated world, we need to be like children who trust in Divine Providence and not worry about everything. The Spirit of Jesus will breathe new life into all of us. I hope you have a fun summer.

Fr. Mike Michalski

July 2nd – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” (Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning)

Dear Friends,

Happy Independence Day! This great commemoration of our great country reminds us not only of the magnificent gift of our American heritage but also our magnificent responsibility to use our gifts well.

More than ever, we are called to take the best of what we are and share it so that all may benefit. And to work hard that all may be respected and cherished at the table of life.

Having visited Auschwitz, where Victor Frankl was imprisoned, and rereading Man’s Search for Meaning, I am convinced more that ever that we have a huge task ahead of us. But as a believer, and having visited the cell in Auschwitz where St. Maximilian Kolbe witnessed to his faith to the point of death, I am convinced that we can do it.

The call of our faith in Jesus Christ, who has promised to be with us till the end of the ages, leads to a hope that the witness of the saints shows us cannot be defeated.

May this Fourth of July lead us to deeper commitment to the values that lead to life and flourishing for all!

Liberty, yes! Responsibility, definitely!

God bless America!
Sincerely, with love,
Fr. Tim