This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - Mar 10, 2017

Dear All: 

May the Lord be with each of you in palpable ways during these 40 days.

This Week in Prayer

Each of our deceased ancestors was one of God’s beloved. The same is true of our living ancestors. God loves them profoundly and sent His Son for them. Beyond that consoling commonality, all of our ancestors share countless other characteristics. Some of those shared traits make us smile. Others do not. Among the truths that do not gladden our souls is the fact that each ancestor, both those who are alive and those who have died, have made flawed choices. Some of those flawed choices were sinful. Others were just goofy mistakes. Many of their poor choices influence our current quality of life, and not in a delightful way. And where do we go with that awareness? Sunday’s readings invite us to be candid about the sin and kind about the sinners when recalling our predecessors and their flawed choices. 

The first reading, from Genesis 2, reminds us that Adam and Eve, our furthest back ancestors, fell under the influence of the evil spirit. They made choices that led them away from God’s hopes. Sunday’s account of the world’s first rotten choice is both candid in what it says about the sin and kind in what it does not say about the sinners. It does not say terrible things about Adam and Eve. Compare that passage to those in the first and second Books of Kings that denounce the uninspired leaders – including Kings Rehoboam, Jehoram, Ahaz, Ahaziah and Queen Athaliah. Unlike the author of the Books of kings, the author of Genesis is candid in about the sin and kind in what he does not say about the sinners.

Jesus makes a similar move in Matthew’s description of the Temptation in the Wilderness. Every time the devil tempts Jesus, Jesus replies by quoting Deuteronomy. Each of those quotes, in turn, recalls a moment when Israel made a terribly flawed choice. The second temptation, when Satan tempts Jesus to leap from the temple, causes Jesus to quote Deuteronomy 6:16: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test as you did as Massah.” Massah? The place where the Israelites made the unfortunate choice to grumble against God and to protest, “Is the Lord in our midst or not?” – after God had showered the people with countless expressions of love in the wilderness. Despite their misdeeds, Jesus does not rail against the ancestors he references. He is candid about the sin and kind about the sinners.

The third temptation, to gain influence by worshiping evil, prompts Jesus to say “The Lord, your God, shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve.” The mention of false-god-worship stirs images of the people bowing low before the golden calf, another low point when His ancestors made a severely flawed choice that Jesus opts not to use as an excuse to denigrate. He is candid in what he says about the sin and kind in what he chooses not to say about the sinner. Yes, Our Lord sometimes castigates those who make flawed choices, but Sunday’s gospel reminds us that He also has mercy on mistake-makers.

 

What about you? Let’s say we broadly define ancestors as anyone who has preceded us – not just in the gene pool but also in our workplace, or team, or school or church. And then let’s say they have all made mistakes about which we are called to be candid, at least in our own minds. Finally, let’s say these mistake-makers fall into three categories: 

  1. those of whom we already speak and think kindly, 

  2. those of whom we do not yet speak or think kindly, and 

  3. those who have hurt us so profoundly that we need professional help to deal with the resulting pain. 

It’s about that second group, mistake-making ancestors of whom we do not yet speak or think kindly. Who is on your list? Which ancestor(s) made a bad choice – in child-rearing or financial management or stress-release or physical activity or whatever – even though they were doing the best they could with the hand they were dealt? Which ancestors might you consider moving from that second category (treated harshly) into the first (treated kindly)? Who needs a little mercy from you? We all make flawed choices – every last one of us. That’s why Jesus came. But only the evil Spirit wants us to keep thinking harshly of those who went before us – because doing so gets between us and the peace Christ wants us to experience.

  • God bless all the confirmandi and their confirmation retreat this weekend and confirmation next week.

  • God bless all the men wondering about the Cornerstone Men’s prayer group – which meets this Monday night for the first time. May it be a greatly blessed experience in Lent and beyond.

  • God bless the women who visited Walking With Purpose on Monday and are considering joining the women’s bible study.

  • And a giant “God Bless” for the many people who are re-trying the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent. What an amazing grace it is to be a part of that experience. And for those who are wondering, come on in. Don’t hesitate to contact me for an appointment if Saturday afternoons don’t work for you. 

  • Mark your calendars for two mornings of prayer at church: March 18 for Caregivers and April 8 for all people who serve in liturgical ministries and in the managerial ministries – Parish Council, Finance Council, REFC, Buildings and Grounds, Collection Counters . . . and all the “kingly ministries.”

  • Sign-up for a daily email lenten reflection. There are many available - here's one from Loyola Press

  • And welcome again to those who are adding daily Mass to their Lent. It is good to have you with us.
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read this week's readings
  • Read next week's readings

This week in service:

  • GREAT blessings for all who helped make the ministry recruiting Sundays so successful. Thanks to the ministry leaders, to those who staffed the tables, and greatest blessings for those who signed up. Just about every new recruit should have by now received confirmation emails from Suzanne Kral, from your ministry leader, and from me. Again, good for you!
  • BRING YOUR OLD GREETING CARDS TO CHURCH THIS WEEKEND. The Grimmer family is organizing a collection of greeting cards that benefits St Jude’s ranch. Don’t worry about the cards’ condition. Just bring them.

This week in community:

  • THE CHAPEL WINDOWS ARE HERE. After nearly two years of intense mental and physical labor, five windows from the old church are now installed in our Blessed Sacrament chapel. Make sure you turn the lights on when you encounter them. More on this later. For now. WOW.

  • Great thanks to all who put so much heart and soul into decorating the church for Lent. Special thanks for the symbols of Holy Thursday in the gathering space and the symbols of Good Friday near the altar.

  • Thanks to the youth group and to all who participated in the PJ Anderson Concert. A fine night indeed.

  • The Bishop’s Annual Appeal is here! Stay tuned for more information in the bulletin and in church.

  • March 24 is our Lenten fish fry. I have to miss this one (godson’s wedding) but trust you can make it. Those who participated last year can tell you the Irish Dancing was even better than the fish!

  • Great thanks to all who made this Blue Storm basketball season so terrific. You are all a great gift.

With blessings for your Lent and your life in the last days of snow.

 

Fr Hank.