Optional Memorial of St. John of Capistrano
Dear Ones in Christ,
I’m somewhat amazed that this weekend we’re celebrating the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time already! With all that has gone on this year, there are times when it seems time has just flown by while at other times it’s as though it has just been dragging. Have you felt that too? I hope that these haven’t been wasted days for you. I hope that you’ve found wonderful ways to invest your days with good energy, that you have caught up on all those projects you may have been putting off for maybe a little too long, that you have rediscovered the joy of reading, that perhaps you’ve taken up anew an old hobby that you put aside because other things became more important. Most of all, I hope that you’ve found ways to deepen your relationship with God through prayer, meditation, reflection, reading the Scriptures, getting reacquainted with the lives of favorite saints, or even acquainted yourself with ones you’d never heard of before. How many of you know about St. Tarcisius or St. Eulalia (there are two of them!)? But mostly, I’m hoping that this email finds you doing well, and that you are well-encouraged in the things that pertain to our faith.
There’s not a lot of “news” to share with you this weekend. I would, however, remind you that our St. Vincent De Paul Society will continue to have their blue barrels available for your contributions at the doors of the church at both of the Masses on Sundays as well as at the collection point in the parking lot each Saturday for the drive-through reception of Holy Communion. The barrels will be available every weekend going forward, so please be as generous as possible. In my email of September 24, I listed the items that are most needed; mostly canned fruits, vegetables, meats (tuna, chicken, etc.), pasta, dry beans, toiletries. Please, please, please check the canned goods for expiration dates! I had an experience at a food bank in another parish where I served that somebody had apparently just cleaned out their home pantry and brought whatever was there to the food bank. One of our volunteers had the foresight to check expiration dates, and we ended up throwing out almost all the canned goods that had been donated. So please, do double check those dates, OK?
Our readings this weekend are so familiar that I hope the depth of their seriousness and importance isn’t lost on us. Our Gospel reading is Matthew 22:34-40 in which we hear the familiar words of the Great Commandments:
“You SHALL love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You SHALL love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
I can’t recall which of the Fathers of the Church said something to the effect, “These are the sum substance of the entire law of God; all the rest is commentary.” In other words, love is the absolute basis of all that God is about. I was drawn to what seems to be Jesus’ emphasis on the important seriousness of these commandments by His use of the word “shall.” It isn’t a suggestion that we’re supposed to love others; it’s an imperative to our Christian life. Remember, the context of Jesus’ response comes in an encounter with a scholar of the law who was testing Him by asking which commandment in the law is the greatest. Maybe that’s a test we need to be taking ourselves in these days when our love for others may truly be put to the test. Mind you, Jesus didn’t say we were to like everybody at all times and in all places. He was actually saying we are to LOVE at all times and all places.
Do you remember the time when, after Peter took Jesus aside to chide Him for foretelling His passion, that Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me you satan, for you are thinking not as God thinks but as men think.” Do you think Jesus really liked Peter at that point? Here, Peter had been following Jesus for close to 3 years, and he still just didn’t get it! Or remember when Jesus took a whip to all the money changers and the sellers of animals in the temple precincts? Do you think that he actually liked those people? Of course the answer is, “No!” But what He was doing was out of a sense of love for His Heavenly Father as well as a love for the eternal side of both Peter and those who felt the whip. Love transcends like. So, I’m thinking I need to do a little pop quiz with myself to re-examine who and what I love and ask myself if my loves are in the Will of God. I hope I get a passing mark.
Please continue to stay safe. The national and local news reports indicate that we are starting to see a rise in the number of new coronavirus cases being reported, and this is concerning. We know the drill: Wear a mask! Wash your hands frequently! Limit the amount of your public exposure! I would add a fourth precaution for the sake of our mental health: limit television and social media viewing. If you are bingeing on TV and your time on the computer, you may find that you’re becoming a bit less tolerant, a bit less compassionate, a bit less loving. Those are warning signs to us as Christian people.
With deepest brotherly love in Christ,