Weekly Clergy Devotions
Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2019
The 1st reading doesn’t sound relevant to us when it decries those asking ““When will the new moon be over … that we may sell our grain?” It is not so much decrying this specific ancient practice but this most relevant attitude: “When is the chance I’ll get to not have to be 100% on my best behavior?” Now more than ever before, there is a danger of compartmentalizing our lives into boxes. We may think it’s OK to have this 1% “box” for ourselves based on this notion that you’re “really good” 99% of the time. It’s very commendable to be good (and that’s what we are all called to do at every moment), but our Sunday readings are reminding us of the necessity of striving to be our very best 100% of the time. No exceptions. The readings are trying to spare ourselves from the danger of this attitude of ever thinking there are acceptable times to “get away” with things.
Our catechism teaches that just as every good decision we make somehow has a positive impact on all creation (direct and indirect), every poor choice somehow has a negative impact on all creation. Like it or not, the reality is that, even when we think there’s no harm done, harm is being done. Even when we think otherwise, we certainly hurt ourselves, and that somehow hinders us from having the best relationships at every moment possible with God and others. Simple example: You choose to stay at home and flip channels instead of accepting a friend’s request to meet them for dinner. They may have needed your help with something urgent. Even if it wasn’t urgent, there’s that lost opportunity to grow in communion with others.
Simply put, the sooner we can recognize, and put into action, the reality that we are always called to be our best at every moment; the sooner we can be free from all the unnecessary self-inflicted complications of life. The sooner we can become more available to enjoy the discipleship we were always meant to have.
Fr. Martin Dunne III
Posted: September 8, 2019
Have you ever watched Survivor? Those who watched know that in this reality TV game show a bunch of people allow themselves to be stranded for more than a month at some distant place. They willingly say goodbye to family and friends and with little more than the clothes on their backs. Not only do they have to construct their own shelters, catch and cook their own food, but they also have to compete with one another in physically and mentally demanding challenges in an effort to keep from getting voted off the game. As the days go by, and more and more of them get voted off, the remaining participants grow visibly thinner and thinner for lack of nourishment. Some get sick and others break down emotionally. Why do people do it? The reason is obvious enough. Not only do they stand a chance of winning a million dollars, but they also attain instant celebrity status. Most of the time, the survivors’ answer is yes. It’s worth playing!
Like the survivors, it would appear that we Christians also need continually to ask ourselves a similar question. Indeed, for the spiritual life is not any less demanding than the game show. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even his own life, and whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” The demand is clear and uncompromising. The word hate is used to emphasize that in all situations, the Christian must act in such a way as to place the Lord first, above even family and self. Of course, this is not an easy thing to do. Which is why, Jesus insists that those of us who wish to follow Him need to examine our commitment.
Dear brothers and sisters, there are many people who are willing to endure considerable suffering just for the sake of winning a million dollars and the title of only Survivor. Can we who claim to be followers of Christ do any less, especially when what’s at stake is the Kingdom of God? What do you think? Is it worth it to deny ourselves and carry our cross to follow Jesus?
Fr. Dominic Toan Tran
Posted: Sunday, September 1, 2019
The 2nd reading reminds us of our greatest blessing of all—that we have approached Mount Zion, which means we have approached God directly in the sacraments! We are so blessed to have this encounter with God at least once a week, yet we can all struggle with forgetting his reality.
I don’t find it a co-incidence that this reading coincides more or less with our return to our newly restored (& air-conditioned) Church building! Although we encounter God in many ways (though creation, Scripture, God the Holy Spirit, others, etc.) the Mass, when the bread and wine becomes Jesus in the Eucharist, is the most direct and complete encounter we have with God outside of Heaven! One of the purposes of Mass is to sustain, strengthen, and console us through all the challenges we face throughout the week. The challenges become unnecessarily harder when we forget how God is with us always, especially because of the Mass. Something that can help insure we do not take this for granted is how we prepare for this greatest experience we can have outside of Heaven! We prepare our exterior by wearing our “Sunday best” (vs. “dressing” for the mall, gym, or beach) and by genuflecting (if possible) entering (& exiting) the Church (acknowledging the true presence of God in the tabernacle). Even more importantly, we prepare our interiors through prayer, reflection, and (if needed) sacramental reconciliation. What also helps us receive the greatest graces is how we are during Mass: if we’re attentive to the voice of God from both the spoken word and prayer, and if we’re participating fully in our recognition of the greatest-of-miracles occurring right before our eyes, if we’re reverencing the Eucharist by insuring we consume every visible speck we may see in our hands as our expression of our faith in the truth that each fragment of the Eucharist as Jesus given out of love for us.
These steps and more will open our eyes more to the reality that Mass is the highlight of our life—and to the meaning of just how great it is to approach Mount Zion!
Fr. Martin Dunne III
Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2019
21st Sunday Ordinary Time
Who is Jesus talking about in the Gospel, the ones who will not be allowed to enter into paradise even though they say they ate and drank with Him and that He taught in their streets? Why are these excluded from entering?These are the ones who showed up but did not take the Gospel message to heart and implement it in their lives. These are the ones who may come to church now and then but do not allow the teachings of Christ to transform them into the saints that God wishes them to be. These are the ones who hear the message but do not allow it to bear fruit in their lives. Do not be like the Pharisees who preach the law to others but do not follow it themselves. Be like the Apostles who followed Jesus and gave their lives to Him. Be those and be let into the doors and greeted with the open arms of Christ!
Deacon Bill Watzek
Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2019
Keep Running The Race!
In today’s second reading we hear about a “great a cloud of witnesses.” The author is referring to saints who have preceded us. Now, like fans in a stadium they cheer us on to keep running the race.
Here in our parish we recognize that cloud of witnesses: the Communion of Saints which includes men and women from every nation but more immediately, people who have served faithfully here at St. Joan of Arc. As we celebrate 60 years of Catholic Church presence in Boca Raton and we are grateful to those who gave themselves for us. No one pressured them, no one forced them, but they freely gave their time, abilities and financial resources. For that reason we have a parish today.
Those good people, those saints, are cheering us on. The second reading continues tell us that because we have that cloud of witnesses we should “rid ourselves of every burden and sin.” We can’t run the race weighed down by sins and burdens such as alcohol and drug abuse, anger and bitterness.
Indeed, the finish line is ahead of us; the finish line is not so far away, and none of us, young or elder knows how soon we will break that tape. Now is the time to get rid of our burdens and sins. You and I stumble; maybe even get tripped by others. We might even stumble daily, and what matters is getting up again.
We are in this race together and we are not in competition. We help and encourage each other to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. In the Gospel, Jesus says He wants to set the earth on fire. It’s the fire of love, immersion in the Holy Trinity through baptism and Eucharist. I invite you and encourage you to keep run the race, keep participating in the sacraments, especially Holy Mass. With that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on, let’s rid ourselves of every burden and continue in running the race, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Fr. Dominic Toan-Tran