Again, I am having an amazing time here in Florida, but I’m ready to come home. I’m renewed, fired up, and ready to serve. Two weeks is a long time to be away.
This week is Halloween. I’m just putting this out there now. I have not dressed up for Halloween since about 1988. So the chances of me changing it up this year is slim. Don’t let my party-pooper attitude stop you from having fun. However, all of this means we also have a Holy Day of Obligation this week. Thursday, November 1st is the Solemnity of All Saints, when remember all of the holy men and women who have gone before us in living out Jesus’ call to greatness and holiness. Saints are anyone who is in Heaven. Some have been formally recognized by the Church. Some have not. The Catholic Church teaches that at Mass, the reality is that the angels and saints are around the altar praising God and singing with us, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”
So for the Solemnity of All Saints we will have a vigil Mass (on Wednesday, October 31) at St. Teresa’s at 7 PM. Hopefully the trick or treating will be done by then. This obviously takes place of faith formation. St. Teresa’s will also have a Mass on November 1 at 8:30, the usual Mass time. (There will also be Adoration at 7:30 like usual.) Then at 5:30 PM, Mass will be at St. Matthew in Vernon Center.
Remember that this weekend (October 28) at 10 AM (after the 9 AM Mass) at St. Teresa’s is the CCW Belize Fundraiser. Please support those who are going (of which I am one of them). If you can’t go, support those who are going. They are going to spread the love of God to those whose life is very different that ours.
There are a lot of cool things happening for the youth. Next Saturday (November 3) we have a first youth Mass organized by Betsy. I’m excited to see what the youth are up to. The Mass is at 5 PM at St. Joseph’s in Good Thunder. Please come and support our youth and families. Then on Sunday, November 4, we have Confirmation Orientation for our 9th and 10th graders. Please pray for them as they start this process to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the last of the Sacraments of Initiation.
In the Gospel this weekend, we hear of Jesus heal a blind man. Jesus heals him and says his faith has saved him. What is it in our lives we need to be healed of? What blindness do we need Jesus help to see reality as it really is?
Take care and God bless,
In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he talk about being one: one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father of us all. St. Paul is just echoing Jesus who desired that His believers be one as He and the Father are one. There are so many things going on in the Church and the world that are trying to split us. We need to remember that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We need to rally around Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Jesus Christ, the Truth, does not change. The Church’s teachings don’t change. The method of evangelizing needs to constantly change, but we must be very careful to preserve the Truth of Jesus Christ, of the Apostles. We are many. There are an estimated 1 billion Catholics in the world. But we need to remain one around the Truth of Jesus Christ.
One of my favorite sayings of all time is: “If tolerance is your highest value, you believe in nothing.” Now this saying isn’t saying we shouldn’t be tolerant, but if it is your HIGHEST value, then quite quickly there is no such thing as truth. Another more simple crude way to say it is: “Don’t be so open minded that your brains fall out.”
Some people, even a lot of good well meaning Christians believe that peace at almost any cost is worthy-while. Isn’t that what Jesus is about? Love, peace, and happiness? I would argue the answer is in some ways, no. In today’s Gospel Jesus says, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Luke 12:51) I think especially of Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse in John, chapter 6. After saying over and over again that they needed to eat His body and drink is blood, people left and quit following Jesus because they couldn’t accept this teaching. Why didn’t Jesus soften the teaching, especially if He was just speaking symbolically? We have to remember that Jesus loves each person, each soul infinitely. It would have pained Him beyond our imagination to watch these people leave. And yet the truth of the Eucharist was worth the loss, the division. The truth divides. Absolute truth divides. But it also calls us to unify around the truth. To agree to disagree is not real peace. It often breeds resentment that explodes later.
Jesus is either God, a liar, or a lunatic. Muslims admit that Jesus is a great person, but they don’t believe that He is God, the Son of God the Father, the Second Person of the Trinity. In John 8:58, Jesus plainly says He is God. (He uses the the ancient name God gave to Moses for Himself: I AM. We know this is how the Jews took it because they picked up stones to stone Him to death for blasphemy for saying He was God. So Jesus can’t be a good person. If Jesus isn’t God, He is a liar…and liars are not good people. He could be a lunatic. There have been plenty of people in mental institutes who have thought themselves to be divine. Jesus does not experience delusions. The only option left is that He is who He says He is. He is God. This is Truth. This divides humanity into believers and non-believers. In believing, we will set the earth on fire for Christ!
In the Spiderman movie Peter says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This sounds a lot like Jesus’ words to His Apostles: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” As Catholics, we have been given so much. We have the Bible, the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, the Mass, Tradition. What are we doing with these great gifts? Do we spend time in prayers? Do we spend time learning more about the teachings of the Church?
I like to tell people it is more important where you are going than where you are. What I mean by this is, if you are have had a hard life and are a recovering drug user, you may not have much of a relationship with Jesus, but you are striving to get to know Jesus better and live a more holy life, I would say you are on your way to Purgatory and eventually heaven. However, if you have a great childhood and are pretty naturally good, are agnostic about God or have a lukewarm static relationship with Jesus, this is not a good thing. You have been given much. Much is expected. No matter where our relationship with Jesus is, we must alway strive to draw closer to Him. We cannot ever assume that we have arrived (at least until we get to heaven).
Jesus is amazing. In today’s parable, Jesus says something shocking. In the parable, the master has gone to a wedding and is going to be back at an unknown time. The servants have two choices. They can goof off since the master will be awhile or they can be vigilant, preparing and expecting his return at any moment. Jesus says blessed are the servants who are ready to open the door the moment the master comes and knocks. If the servants are prepared in this way, the master will do something shocking. He will reverse the rolls. He will have the servants recline at table and the master will wait on the servants. This is ludicrous. Masters don’t wait on servants. And yet, this is what Jesus is suggesting. And this is what we know to be true. If we are vigilant, if we wait patiently for the Lord to come and knock on the door of our hearts, if we are ready to open and receive Him into our souls, He will wait on us and serve us. He served us on the Cross and He continues to serve us. He the Master died on the Cross for us the servants. But no longer servants, but friends, brothers and sisters. May we be vigilant and listen to the knock of our Savior, to the knock of Love Himself.
Today’s first reading is from Ephesians, chapter 2. When I was in college, some of my Protestant friends would use Ephesians 2:8-9 to show that we are saved by faith and not by works. However, upon closer inspection, St. Paul doesn’t say we are saved by faith or by works. Look closely at Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.” St. Paul says we are saved “by grace.” As Catholics, we whole heartedly believe we are saved by grace. Our salvation won on the Cross is a free gift given to us by Jesus Christ. So yes, we ARE saved by grace. So what is contrasted here? Not faith and works, but grace and works. We are NOT saved “from works.” We ARE saved by grace…through faith. In James 2:19, the Apostles says even the demons believe in God. So belief must not be enough for salvation. In order to be saved, to have salvation in Jesus Christ, we must do something more than the demons. We must allow grace to exist and work in our hearts, in our souls. We must humbly submit to the grace of God. If we do so, most likely, God’s grace will be evident in our lives. This is what Ephesians 2:10 says: “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” In the two years I hung with Baptists in college, I don’t once recall them quoting Ephesians 2:10 to me; just verses 8-9. God so loves us so much that He planned for our existence in Christ before time even existed. We are His handiwork. Why did He do this? So that we can do the good works that God has prepared for us in advance. James says that faith without works is dead. (James 2:17) We are saved by grace through faith and that grace must be alive in our hearts so that it is evident in the works or actions that we do. In other words, we must not just talk like a Christian in love with Jesus, but we must start to act like it.