Friday in the 17th Week of the Church Yearpoor

Saint for the day: St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Jeremiah 26:1-9

Psalm 69

Matthew 13:54-58

 

 

“Jesus came to his native place and taught the people … but he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.” (Today’s Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew)

When I was doing my “Beyond Banners Liturgy Workshops” back in the ‘80’s I used to begin my talks by telling the people that I was an “expert in matters of liturgy and worship.” Then, after a pause to let that statement sink in, I would give them my definition of an expert: “someone from out of town!” It’s always easier to do some “hit it and quit it” kind of challengeministry than it is to preach to the people who know you with all your warts and faults. That’s probably why Jesus sent His disciples out two by two in order to keep them honest. In today’s Holy Gospel we’re told, “… the people took offense at him.” What do you think He said to them that they would have found offensive? Maybe he read this passage from Jeremiah that was our first scripture for today’s Liturgy? It made me think of something that I encountered a long-time ago. I saw a flyer that came in the mail introducing a local, non-denominational church. What caught my attention was the main message: “Come to such-and-such Community Church where nice people meet a nice God!” Inside the brochure there were pictures of nice, neat-looking people along with short “blurbs” telling why they liked this church: “… no talk of Hell and damnation…no fear of meeting undesirable people … always a chance to make good [Christian] connections… ect., ect., and so forth.” I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What Gospel are these people reading?”

We have to understand that the “Gospel of Jesus” is always going to take us out of our comfort zones and into the “market-places” of our world where the blind, the poor and the lame are looking for help. Maybe that’s what Jesus was preaching infeeding today’s Holy Gospel that offended the people to whom He was speaking. It made me think about one of the programs here at St. Dominic’s that is important for all of us to be aware of. In the first place Sr. Anne has been running a “street-person ministry” for more than 30 years and there are always lots of “needy people” coming for a sack lunch, an opportunity to clean up, take a shower or wash their clothes. The secret to her success is that she holds these people accountable to “follow the rules” and she doesn’t back down from what she expects of them. That’s not to mention the few people who come into the back of the church to get out of the cold – sometimes sleeping on the pews.

I think it’s good for all of us to be reminded that we are not “ Church” in order to feel good about our blessings but, rather, to be compassionate with the people who aren’t able to make it according to our standards. This doesn’t mean that we don’t read scripture passages like the ones from Jeremiah that we’re hearing in these days. It just means that we need to always … here I’ll let you finish that statement. Think about it. Amen?

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Thursday in the 17th Week of the Church Yeardragnet

Saint for the day:St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Jeremiah 18:1-6

Psalm 146

Matthew 13:47-53

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.” (Matthew 13:47)

 

Today’s Liturgy of the Word gives us two images of the Kingdom of Heaven: the potter shaping the clay; and the dragnet thrown into the sea. Everyone who has had even a scant experience of working with clay knows that the clay can be shaped and re-shaped until it arrives at a finished product. Then, it must be “fired” in order for clayit to have long life as a cherished artifact. It’s a beautiful image but one that we often bulk at when it comes to the “firing stage.” In one sense, it’s the “firing” that changes the transitory lump of clay into a vessel that can be used in multiple ways.

The other image that Jesus uses in today’s Holy Gospel is that of a “dragnet” thrown into the sea and collecting all sorts of stuff both good and not-so-good. This image goes hand in hand with the parable of the weeds and the wheat, which wechaliceheard a few days ago. We all have to face the reality of life, which, in this world, doesn’t start out at the perfected stage but slowly develops as we grow and are shaped into vessels of earthen beauty. Let’s not forget that clay is basically mud! But mud that’s been shaped and formed into something beautiful. Just as we understand that all life begins and has its roots in the sea we will be gathered in – at the end of our lives – and God will separate what is good from what is not so good. In this sense we can see that it isn’t over till it’s over and there’s always an opportunity for us to make yet another “decision for Christ.” I find great hope in these images which give us signs that God truly wants to give us every opportunity to be shaped and molded and caught up in the “net of His love.” This image reminds us that we’re going to rub shoulders with a few sharks and sting-fish along the way but God knows us through and through and wants more than anything to have us with Him forever. Lots to think about today in these images. Amen!

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Wednesday in the 17th Week of the Church YearKingdom Gates

Saint for the day: St. Peter Chrysologus (406-450?)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21 - Psalm 59 - Matthew 13:44-46

Today’s saint, Peter Chrysologus – whose name means “Man of the Golden Words” - can be a good example to all of us even before we get to the Holy Scriptures for today’s Liturgy. It gives a sacredness to the words of Jesus that He uses in the parables that we’ve been hearing in these days.

In today’s Gospel w get yet another parable about seeking the “Kingdom of Heaven:” The hidden treasure and the pearl of great price. Fr. Richard Roar says, “Where your thoughts go in your idle moments … there is your treasure!” Kind of scarypearl when you think about it? But, if we speak like today’s saint and pray that our words are “golden” we might find the “treasure” or the “pearl of great price.” Still, in both of the examples in this parable the “treasure” and the “pearl of great price” are somewhat hidden. You have to dig around in the dirt and grim to find them. Another way of making you “humble.” (Based on our understanding of the root of the word meaning “of the earth”) You also might have to work at gaining the pearl of great price, as anyone who has shucked an oyster knows.  So our first “bottom line” today might be an admonition to get up off our easy chair and begin to discover the treasure that God has planted within our heart. Even if we feel that we’ve sat for hours before the Blessed Sacrament we seekstill have to get off our duff and be willing to search for the treasure that God is continually offering to us. But it is always out there! On the WAY!   And, just like our buddy, Jeremiah, we have to be willing to keep going in spite of whatever hardships or disappointments come our way. Our examples go all the way back to the Israelites and their wanderings in the desert when they found out that “it’s not enough to leave Egypt (e.g. the trials and struggles of day to day life) we also have to be willing to enter into the promised land!”

Nobody gets in, through or out of this life without some personal struggle and pain. The quote that I had printed on my Vow Card is a good reminder to me and to all of us. It’s from Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask of the Lord, and this I seek: to dwell in the House of the Lord all my days.” Amen!

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Tuesday in the 17th Week of the Church Year.martha

Saint for the day: St. Martha (1st Cent.)

Jeremiah 14:17-22

Psalm 79

John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42

Today the Church gives us a choice of Gospels for the “memorial” of St. Martha: the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11) or the “Martha, Martha” dinner story from Luke. These two choices of Gospel readings show us the two sides of today’s saint, Martha: her heart-felt concern over the death of her brother, Lazarus –“Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21) And her upset in being left to do all the work for a dinner party for Jesus: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving?”(Luke 10:40)

Maybe it’s important for us to understand both sides of these feelings: the real pain and loss when a close family member dies; and the “call to service” which is key in Jesus preaching throughout the Gospels. Once again, it’s not a question of “either or” but, rather, a matter of “both and.” All of us must develop an ability to “hear” what Jesus says to us about His workresurrection and how it applies to all of us. Martha is able to make a profound act of faith in the closing of the John Gospel: “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God…” (John 11:27) The secret to her ability to make this statement of faith must have come to her while she was busy preparing the meal for Jesus. The Benedictine model comes to mind: “Ora et Labora” – “Prayer and labor.” This made me think of the German sisters who did the cooking at our HouseTherese of Studies when I first entered the Dominicans. They always traced a cross on the bottom of a loaf of bread before beginning to slice it. A simple reminder to acknowledge a prayer even in the simplest act of slicing bread. St. Therese of Lisieux said, “Stopping to pick up a pin on the floor out of love can convert a soul.” I make my own correlation to that statement and say, “when you toss a scrape of paper into the waste basket – and miss – and don’t go over to pick it up you’ll never become a saint.”   When you read the stories of “saints” you have to see that most started out as simple people – often not enjoying any kind of notoriety. They usually had an edge on being helpful in the most common areas of life often doing the simplest of tasks. Their secret seems to have been their ability to see Christ in the people that they were trying to help. Martha, in fixing a meal for Jesus is told, “not to worry” and her serving Jesus allowed her to be able to make that statement of faith, at the close of today’s Holy Gospel, “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God…” (John 11:27)

I think today’s commemoration of St. Martha is packed with hidden secrets about becoming a saint if we just look a little deeper. Amen!

 

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Late Fr. Lewis Shea, OP (45 Mins) Video Documentary

The very Rev. Fr. Lewis Mary Shea, OP was a Dominican friar from the Chicago Central Province of St. Albert the Great,...

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Quote for today

stdominicI will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8

Province of St. Joseph

The Dominican friars of the Province of St. Joseph were founded in 1806 by Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P., an American who had joined the English Province of the Order as a young man during its exile in Belgium. Fenwick eventually returned to the United States with the dream of establishing the Order in his native land. Read More

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