Weekly Clergy Devotions
Posted: Sunday, October 22, 2017
Over the past few Sundays we have been listening to Jesus preach in parables to the chief priests, Pharisees and elders of the people, telling them, in essence, that they will be replaced as the leaders of God’s chosen people and that the leadership will be handed over to others. In the second reading from Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul tells the people of the church that they were chosen by God. I believe that this point of being “chosen people” is not something that we think about as much as we should. Christ came into the world in order to bring about the Kingdom of God, to establish that kingdom Jesus chose His followers, the apostles, to be the ones who will begin to build His kingdom, the church, here on earth. Saint Paul, also chosen by Christ Himself, tells his followers that they did not come into the Church merely by hearing the word of God preached to them but that they were also chosen by God to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Last Saturday over one hundred of our children and some adults received that same gift of the Holy Spirit at the sacrament of Confirmation, these were also chosen by God to become fully initiated Catholics into the Kingdom of God. The very fact that God not only chooses us but calls us to mission as well, should make us keenly aware of our need to discern what the will of God is in our lives. Since we are chosen and called we should be attentive of the situations that God puts us in and use our free will to choose to do the most good the most loving response that we can make, thus making our lives rich and productive ones in the Kingdom of God!
– Deacon Bill Watzek
Posted: Sunday, October 15, 2017
Would You Have Time to Come to the Lord’s Banquet?
At a World Mission Sunday’s Conference, people were given helium balloons and told to release them at some point during the talks when they felt joy in their hearts. Throughout the conference, people kept releasing balloons. At the end of the conference, it was discovered that most of them still had their balloons unreleased. If this experiment were repeated in our church today, how many of us would still have our balloons unreleased at the end of the Mass? Many of us think of God’s house as a place for seriousness, a place to close one’s eyes and pray, but not a place for celebration.
The parable in today’s Gospel paints a different picture. The Christian assembly is a gathering of those who are called to the Lord’s Supper. In the Eucharist we say: “Happy are those who are called to his supper.” The Lord invites us to a banquet. Would you imagine at a banquet in which everyone sits stone-faced, and quiet?
The Gospel shows us three possible kinds of guests. Firstly, the absentee guests are that they are not sinners. They were not engaged in sinful activity. One went to his farm, another to his business. These are decent employments. In reality, what keeps us away from the joy of the banquet? The thing that keeps us away from the joy of the banquet is not a sin but concern with the necessities of life. To be serious with your job is excellent, but when your job keeps you away from attending the Lord’s Banquet, it then becomes an obstacle that hinders you from experiencing the joy of the Lord in your life.
Secondly, the problem with the guest without the wedding garment is whether he had enough time to go home and put on his wedding garment. The point of the parable is: if you must go to a wedding, you must wear your wedding garment. By not wearing a wedding garment, he was physically in the banquet, but his mind and spirit were not there. In fact, it is better not to attend at all than to be there and yet not there. The invitation is to all, yet anyone who decides to attend has a responsibility to present himself/herself fit for the banquet.
Finally, there are the guests who attend the wedding banquet, taking time to appear in the proper wedding garment. They are the only ones who have fun and enjoy the banquet. They are the models for us to follow.
Dear brothers and sisters, today’s Gospel sends a message to those who are keeping away from the Lord’s Supper that they are missing out on the joy of life. To those of us who have accepted the Lord’s invitation to come in, this parable warns us not to take God’s grace for granted, but to clean ourselves up and become the most beautiful person that we can be in God’s sight.
Father Dominic Toan-Tran
Posted: Sunday, October 8, 2017
Today’s second reading is a reminder to “make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7). One of the most profound lessons I gained in life is just how important it is to ask God for help in all things! It may seem obvious that we are meant to ask for God’s help in a total humble dependence upon him for everything! But do we do that? Are we asking for God’s help with everything? Not just the big things, such as health, physical and spiritual safety, but also the seemingly smaller things? Not just the, general “daily bread” but also the countess specific needs that arise unexpectedly in a given moment? Please, never for a moment think that something is too small, trivial, or insignificant to ask for God’s help with—quite the opposite is true! For example, you realize you need to be more focused on your responsibilities, a car cuts you off, someone does something hurtful… are you praying that instant for the grace not to compromise fulfilling your purpose in life at those given moments? Imagine you are suddenly asked to complete a typically-8- hour project within the next 2 hours. Do you ask God to help you somehow make it happen? These are but some of hundreds of examples which may arise in a single day, and the words, “Jesus help me” may not only be all the words you’ll have time to pray but is also all you’ll need to say for God to hear and answer to your request!
What about all the times it did not seem like our prayers were answered? This is where we need to remember the second part of the verse, that we will receive, “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.” This peace is far greater than anything and everything else we could ever ask for because in a very real way we receive God himself! We receive the internal peace to always rest upon, that no external factor or person can ever take away from us, even if the external blessings we pray are not realized as we had hoped! That internal peace of God has already carried me, and so many of you, through so many circumstances in life. We can trust that God will always offer us that peace through everything (even if the prayer wasn’t answered the way we wanted), to keep us safe through everything, and to prove to everyone around us that God’s grace is absolutely necessary to bring all through the challenges of life ultimately into the infinite joy and fulfillment of heaven! This and more is available to us…all you have to do is, “make your request known to God.”
– Father Martin Dunne, II
Posted: Sunday, October 1, 2017
St. Paul states in today’s second reading that we should “humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.” This type of attitude is the basis of what Christian love is all about, giving one’s self for the other without regard for return. Paul goes on to state that this was exactly the type of attitude that Jesus had, even though he was the Son of God. During His time on Earth Jesus demonstrated to us how He wants us to live our own lives by being gift to one another. Jesus went from town to town preaching the good news of salvation, feeding the poor, healing the sick, giving alms to those in need, basically doing all that he could for those around Him. This is part of the reason that the Incarnation had to happen in the way that it did. God had to become man not only to go through the passion, death and resurrection for our salvation but also to demonstrate to us how we should live our lives, with compassion and love for our fellow man.
– Deacon Bill Watzek
Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2017
The Kingdom of God as Family!
Growing up in a farming family has its advantages. When the crop is ready for harvest, the whole family is out in the field working together. We do not work at the same pace. Dad and brothers would be in the field very early while I am still asleep. Mom and I would join them later. You see, dad and brothers go to work without breakfast but I won’t go anywhere without breakfast. When I finally arrive on the farm I am more interested in asking silly questions and distracting the workers than in the work itself. At the end of the day we all go home happy together. No one complains, no one is jealous, and everyone is happy.
In today’s gospel we hear of a harvest in which some workers work more than others. When pay time comes, they are all treated equally and the early birds among them begin to complain and grumble. Why do the workers in the vineyard complain and grumble whereas the workers in the family farm do not? The answer is simple. One group of workers is made up of family members and the other of unrelated individuals drawn from the wider society. The norms of behavior, of contribution and reward, in a family are different from those in the wider society. What the parable in today’s gospel points out to us in the church today and also in our society and asks us is: Do we see ourselves as family with a common purpose or do we see ourselves as a bunch of individuals, each with our own agenda? We call ourselves brothers and sisters. Why then do we often see and treat one another as rivals and competitors?
So my dear brothers and sisters, the notion of the kingdom of God as family is central to understanding this parable. The kingdom of God is a family more than a society. A society is characterized by we and them, by enmity and survival of the fittest. On the other hand, a family is all we and no them. It is characterized by the spirit of cooperation rather than competition. Today we are called upon to review our all too legalistic notion of the kingdom of God and see it more as a family. We need to recognize and be happy to expect from everyone according to their means and give to each according to their need as God our Father does.
– Father Dominic Toan-Tran
Posted: Sunday, September 17, 2017
Today’s second reading reminds us that, “we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8). I feel the more & more completely we accept this from our hearts, the less & less we will worry (and in recent days we’ve seen plenty of worry)!
The temptations to worry are all around us, but it is important to first consider how “worry” differs from “concern.” It’s understandable, even necessary and very good at times, to be concerned. It’s obviously great for parents to be concerned about the safety and welfare of their children; it is great to be concerned about doing our very best at all times regarding our relationship with God, our universal vocation as disciples, and our particular vocations as cleric, spouse, employee, student, etc. Instead of, “concern,” “worry” is more akin to the, “senseless anxieties”
we used to pray for protection from after praying the Our Father in Mass.
You are already familiar with how easy worries can set-in. You are already familiar with the unhappiness worry causes, and you may already be able to think back to times where the worry turned-out to be over nothing (but so much time was still lost while you worried!). You are already familiar with how worry can make the situation worse, as it clouds judgment into making harmful decisions which often create new problems for us to get worried about! So, therefore, our concern needs to be how to break the cycles of worry! This involves recognizing, and dropping, the harmful tendency to pursue total control to the point where we think that we no longer would need God. Sound familiar? At the very least it was part of Original Sin of Adam & Eve, but we don’t need to go that far back to find examples! Next relates to reflecting on the multitude of similar Scripture passages which remind us that “we are the Lord’s,” through the reality of God’s infinite love of us (and his related longing for our ultimate happiness). Therefore we have nothing to truly fear in this world, even when the hardships intensify. Perhaps most important part, however, is the need for us to pray constantly, pray in our recognition that we will always need God, pray to overcome the temptations to worry through a focus fixed on God, and pray for the courage to live the lives we are called to as an expression of both gratitude and trust of God!
So while there are many good things to be concerned about in our lives, with prayer and trust we can begin to forever free ourselves from worry, because, no matter what, “we are the Lord’s.”
– Father Martin Dunne, III