This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - September 30, 2017

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Dear All: 

 

This Week in Prayer 

 

This weekend, for the fourth and final time this fall, the readings prompt reflections on what it takes to love the tough customers, those whom we aren’t inclined to love spontaneously. Jesus asks us to love them too, even if they are the envious sorts described in last weekend’s readings.

 

The passage from Isaiah 55 refers to “the wicked.” Several Old Testament readings in recent weeks have contained a similar reference. Once again, the group referred to as “the wicked” includes those who worship false Gods. And why do the children of Israel fall so frequently into idolatry? Envy of the apparent benefits of such worship often drives the misstep. People envy the perceived goods that the non-existent gods seem to dole out. A craving for those goods then stirs them to put down worship of Yahweh and take up the worship of Baal or other non-existent sugar-gods. Time-and-again the prophets warn against false worship, frequently taking a page from Moses’ playbook, imploring the people to recall the astonishing things God has done for them – starting with the liberation from Egypt. A healthy recalling of God’s great gifts tempers the urge to envy and imitate the misguided. A deeper sense of gratitude has a way of dispelling envy and the calamities it produces.

 

Sunday’s gospel passage from Matthew 20 underscores envy’s dangers and gratitude’s benefits. Instinct tells us to side with the first-in workers who labored all day and receive the same pay as the last-in workers. The compensation schedule makes little sense. The first-ins’ envy and resentment of the last-ins’ makes good sense. The underlying comparison is, however, a little more appealing. Some members of the early church apparently believed that first-ins should receive greater benefits on earth and in heaven. The logic suggested that Peter, James, Andrew, and John – the first disciples – were entitled to more than the apostles who landed later. More importantly, the mindset suggested that the children of Israel, the first believers, were entitled to more than those who came to the faith later. The whole tussle results from the envy of the first-ins. Jesus upbraids the envious and reminds them that they are getting everything he promised and for that they should be grateful, not envious.

 

What about you? When has envy trapped you? Can you think of a time that the desires for another’s gifts – especially their relational gifts – drove you to envy? Noble aspirations are great. So are lofty ambitions. But envy is destructive – of the envier and of the community. When have you fallen for it and do you see gratitude as part of the force that rescued you?

And how about a person or two in your life, members of the glass-half-empty crowd, who are chronically dissatisfied with their lot and envious of others. They are tough customers. They are hard to love. But love them we must. One of the best expressions of love is to help them be more grateful, to affirm what is good in their lives and to encourage them to do the same, pastorally and subtly. Leading by a sincere, grateful example can work wonders. Who needs your help to escape envy?

This Week in Community:

  • Great big thanks to all members of the PatriotStadium Concession ministry. They have had a remarkable year and have made a giant contribution to our mortgage payments. God bless them all!

  • Watch your step! The center railings in front of church are still out for repair. We’d hoped to get them back this week but . . . As long as they are here before the snow falls.

  • Attention Gluten-intolerant parishioners – Eucharist for the gluten intolerant will start the weekend of October 7. Please see the handouts on the Moses Table.  

  • Check out the new and improved parish calendar on our home page. Its creators are certainly correct in crowing about its virtues. PLEASE NOTE – over the next few weeks we will be putting EVERYTYHING on the calendar. If you plan to be in the church at a time other than Mass, please make sure that your group has reserved a space so we don’t give it away. We will soon have a parish email address for you to use to submit your entry for the calendar. 

  • Remember Veterans – Mark your calendars for the 11:30 Mass on Sunday November 12, the day after Veteran’s Day. Your parish wants to honor you. Keep on the lookout for more information in October. And start digging up (a) the best picture of you during your military days and (b) the best picture of you in recent days

  • ST FRANCIS DAY – Fr Greg Uhrig will preside at the 8:35 Mass on Wednesday, October 4, the Feast of Saint Francis. After Mass Fr. Greg will offer a most enjoyable 20-minute reflection on St. Francis’ experience of “REBUILD MY CHURCH.” We will then move to the hospitality room for its rededication. Following all that comes the usual round of “First Wednesday” great food and honoring of birthday folk. Even if you have never been to the 8:35 weekday Mass, join us on 10/4! 10-4?

  • The blessing of the animals will take place on Saturday morning, 10/7 – right after the 8:30 Mass. Bring your pet, whatever it is. Just make sure that if it can move it is on a FIXED-LENGTH LEASH!

  • The diocesan festival choir will provide us with a Taize concert on Sunday, October 15 at 7:30 pm. If you have never heard a Taize chant concert, seize the opportunity. If you have heard one, you know you don’t want to miss this. The music reflects themes found in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato si' (On Care of Our Common Home). I will be giving a brief reflection on the encyclical. 

  • High school youth group will meet this Sunday night at 7pm. It’s a night of welcome - both old and new members. If you are in high school we hope to see you there. 

  • We could still use two used lap-top computers to connect to the video screens – one for the gathering space and one for the Hospitality. If you can help, contact Bob Ferretti.

This Week in Service:

  • Thanks to the many parishioners who completed Virtus training on Monday. You make a difference! 

  • The poor boxes will continue to collect money for disaster relief. The situation in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands calls for even more help. Thanks to your great generosity, we have already collected $6,000. 

Saturday is probably your last chance to swim outdoors. I can’t, in good faith, encourage you to take the plunge in October. What a difference a day makes. Enjoy the end of summer and all the blessings that autumn promises. And bravo for all the young people who are jazzed up about answering the toll-booth question “what was your best class this week and why?” Many of the answers have been superb. Thanks.

 

Best blessings

 

Fr Hank