Sorry for the interruption in “This Week” dispatches Two weeks ago, we ran into a technical glitch. Last week Bob Ferretti, who sends this to you after I write it, was knee deep in Tennessee’s weeds. We are now back on track. If you want to read the letter from 7/13 you can download it below.
This Week in Prayer
The parable of the wheat and the weeds invites us to welcome unlikely solutions. Our heads, hearts and guts sometimes act at lightning speed. They swiftly propose enticing methods for dealing with apparent troublemakers. Sunday’s gospel reminds us that those first and very appealing inclinations sometimes fail to align with Christ’s hopes. Jesus might be urging us to embrace a solution that takes more time to articulate.
Jesus is the householder in Matthew’s story. He owns and manages the farm. The wheat symbolizes people who make inspired choices and the weeds represent people who habitually make uninspired choices. We are the slaves who love our boss. The weeds make us cringe. We want whatever the boss wants and he does not want weeds. Good souls that we are, we hasten to resolve the weed problem.
Regrettably, our slave counterparts in the story embrace a flawed response. Their proposal, to attack the weeds, does not align with Jesus’ hopes. Jesus, therefore, vetoes them, explaining that they would ruin the wheat. Soldiers call that unintended harm “collateral damage.” Economists call it “negative externalities”.
Jesus proposes an entirely different and unlikely solution. He plans to let the weeds and the wheat grow together until harvest time. His angels will then take do the separating. The slaves need not worry.
Jesus’ plan minimizes collateral damage. It honors the first reading’s guidelines for managing evil – it promotes justice AND mercy. It makes the world the way God wants it to be (justice) and it does so in a way that treats as many as possible in a loving way (mercy). Taken together, the first reading and the gospel invite us to wonder whether our way of dealing with weeds/ troublemakers, is as merciful as it can be. Does our plan pass both the justice and the mercy sniff test or do we need to adopt a less conspicuous and better strategy?
What about you? What are some of the weedy situations in your life these days? Who are some of the people who seem quite ready to reduce your quality of life or the quality of life of someone you love? And how are you responding to them? Does your way of responding to them promote justice AND mercy? Is it too harsh to be considered “merciful?” Too wimpy to be called “just?” What evidence do you have that Jesus endorses your reaction? What other possible reactions have you considered and do any of them leave you feeling more peaceful and more confident that your reaction to the weeds is both just AND merciful?
This Week in Service:
We continue to say “welcome home” to the 54 parishioners who ventured to The Catholic Heart Work project outside Nashville, Tennessee. It was an extraordinary week of service, prayer, and community – of becoming even more effective, respectively, prophets, priests, and kings. Extra-large thanks to the chaperones who spent a week of their limited vacation time making the trip possible: Laurie Ferretti, Josh Huang, John Lanahan, Rea Larangeira (who came from Florida to join the adventure), Terry Lee, Maria LoCicero, Maryellen Tobia, Grace Tobia, and Betty Zobre. And of course, God bless Bob Ferretti!!!
Thanks to the young people of our parish who are making our parish vegetable garden grow so magnificently. Our garden, located just south of the solar panels, is rich with vegetable of all sorts and with what promises to be a dazzling pumpkin harvest. The vegetables will be given to local food pantries and the pumpkins will be sold in October and the proceeds donated to local organizations that prevent hunger.
Attention Caregivers. If you are a caregiver – for friends, relatives or if it is your job – Mark your calendar for our annual caregivers retreat on Saturday, September 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon in the parish Hospitality Room. The morning will start with mass, followed by the retreat program and lunch. If you have friends and relatives who are caregivers, please invite them, regardless of their parish affiliation or religious affiliation. More details to follow.
Great thanks to those who coordinate the marvelous event for our adult parishioners and friends with special needs. Our Becca’s Friends ministry coordinated a truly inspired event on July 23 – at the evening’s concert at Duke’s Island Park. Energetic dancing and singing and a good time were had by all as the rains held off. Extra special thanks to Linda Imperato and Janet Pescinski. For more info and great pictures visit the Becca’s Friends website under the Social Concerns tab of St. Josephs website. The next event will be August 11: the second annual Picture Painting Party.
Elijah’s Promise! Our parish is renewing its commitment to work the dining room of Elijah’s Soup Kitchen. The current plan is for St Joe’s to staff the dining room on the third Sunday of each month. It is an ideal ministry for those who have limited time to provide weekday ministry. If you can join us on Sunday, August 20 – from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – terrific! Please fill in this form or contact Terry Lee firstname.lastname@example.org or Michelle Laffoon email@example.com
Attention all who want to pay less in taxes! – Several parishioners have recently reminded us that it is more tax efficient to (a) transfer funds directly from your retirement account to the church than to (b) withdraw money from your retirement account, deposit it in another account, and then donate. If you have questions, email Monica McDevitt in our business office firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to all who made last Sunday’s blood drive so successful. The program technicians reported that they obtained more than 30 “products” – a gigantic help to health institutions that frequently run low on blood at this time of year. Special thanks to Ken Mayti for all his behind-the-scenes work, and to our whole gaggle of Knights of Columbus who do so much for all of us.
This Week in Community:
Three cheers and perhaps much more for all who made this summer’s CCD program such a great experience for so many. The two-week program ended on Thursday and filled the church with a wonderful vibe. We are all indebted to the volunteers who did so much, especially Carmella Battaglia, Kim Collison, Maryann Comiskey, Kristin D’Avanzo, Merry Emmich, Bree Gildea, Keri Krawski, Betsy Miller – Emily, Evan and Paula Obenauer – Lisa Sabo, Mariusz Siwiec, and Saemi Sparks.
This weekend’s use of the Parish Hall is a great reminder that there is nothing “lazy, hazy or crazy” about these summer days at St Joe’s. The hall was used for Summer CCD all week, welcomed our parishioners home from Tennessee at 2:00 am Sunday, was set up for the Blood Bank from 7 until noon on Sunday, and then was reset for the second week of summer CCD.
May every single parishioner find some time this summer to move a little slowly and to smell some of the proverbial roses that get overlooked (oversmelled?) during the school year.
God bless all of you.