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For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102917.cfm  
 
In the Gospels, the Scribes and Pharisees, as well as the Sadducees, often were at odds with Jesus.   In our Gospel this Sunday the Pharisees sent one of their members, a scholar of the law, to ask Jesus which was the greatest of the commandments.  Now this would not have been an unusual question.   It is estimated that there were over 600 precepts/commands in the Torah. Asking a “Rabbi” to put some rank and/or order to them would have been within the confines of a legitimate question.  
 
Scholars suggest that Jesus’ response to the question, his linking of love of neighbor with love of God would not have come as a surprise.  They were both found in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6.5 and Leviticus 19.18).  What would have been unexpected, however, was the fact that Jesus put these commandments (love of God and love of neighbor) on par with each other.    For Jesus love of God and love of neighbor go hand in hand and in the words of an old song:  “You can’t have one without the other.”     
 
In Luke’s Gospel Jesus’ response to the question about the greatest commandment prompts the follow up question “And who is my neighbor?”   Jesus responded to that question with the story of the Good Samaritan.  Since the story of the Good Samaritan is not found in Matthew’s Gospel, (where today’s Gospel is taken) we need to look to the first reading for Sunday for an insight into whom our neighbor is.   That reading, from the book of Exodus, tells us that our neighbor is the alien, the widow, the orphan, the poor, the person in need.    
 
Our second reading this Sunday is from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians.   In the section we read today Paul compliments the Thessalonians because they have become "imitators of the Lord, and his fellow missionaries."   
 
Thoughts for Consideration/Reflection: 
 
  1. What “neighbor” do you find difficult to love?
  2. I have a friend who says the reason we have difficulty loving our neighbor as ourselves is that we don’t love ourselves very well.   What do you think?
  3. Who comes to mind as someone you would name as an imitator of the Lord?  

One of the greatest privileges of working at The Basilica is how many members of our community I have gotten to meet and how many Basilica stories I have gotten to hear over the past nine years. The Basilica is a diverse community made up of 6,500 households, just over 12,000 parish members. Each of you has your own Basilica story—what brought you here and why you have stayed.

Two weekends ago at Mass, we heard from two of those parish members, Scott Knight and Mary Gleich-Matthews. Each shared their Basilica story and why they have chosen this community to volunteer, to attend mass, and to support with their financial pledges.

Scott and Mary are at different stages in life. Mary is a young professional who found The Basilica, like many, after “church shopping” for the right fit during graduate school, and was recently married at The Basilica in 2016. Scott came to The Basilica in 1996 and now more than 20 years later is balancing life as the Police Chief of Chaska, husband, and father. Scott was diagnosed with stage four skin cancer in 2014 and has immense gratitude to The Basilica community that prayed for him and supported him throughout this battle. 

Despite their differences both Mary and Scott shared how much they appreciate The Basilica’s hospitality and Fr. Bauer’s message that “all are welcome.” I frequently hear that this message resonates with so many members of our parish community. 

At The Basilica, we recognize that faith journeys take different turns. Some of us are just starting out, establishing new faith habits as we launch careers or adult lives. Others experience faith against the backdrop of young families, work demands, empty nests, or well-earned retirements. Each member of our community brings value to make us stronger together. 

The Basilica’s valuable work in our community is possible thanks to parishioners of every age who have pitched in and pledged support. Mary, finding a home and getting married at The Basilica, would not have been possible without financial stewardship pledges. Scott, feeling supported during his difficult battle with cancer, would not be possible without financial stewardship pledges. These moments and so many more along with essentials like heat and lights would not be possible without each and every financial stewardship pledge we receive. When our community comes together so much is possible! 

I hope you will consider a 2018 pledge today. You can pledge online, fill out a pledge form and mail it in, or bring it to mass and put it in the regular collection basket. You may also contact Stephanie Bielmas for answers to any questions you may have about supporting The Basilica. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102217.cfm 

There is an old proverb that says: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”   We see an example of this in our Gospel this weekend.   We are told that the “Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.  They sent their disciples to him with the Herodians………..”   The Pharisees and the Herodians were bitter enemies.  The Pharisees believed the observance of the Jewish law was paramount.   They defended it rigorously.   The Herodians on the other were seen as collaborators with the occupying Romans.   They were willing to make compromises with Jewish law.  They displayed a “go along to get along” philosophy.   A delegation from these two groups approached Jesus with a feigned compliment:  “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.”  They then laid their trap with a skillfully devised question:  “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”  If Jesus said yes to paying the temple tax, he would have lost status with the Jews who were following him.   If he said no to paying the temple tax, he would have been liable to being denounced to the occupying Romans.    Jesus’ response is well known.  He asked for a coin (which had Caesar’s image on it.)  and said: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”    The question that is unspoken, of course, is if a coin bears the image of Caesar, what is it that bears the image of God?   The answer, of course, is that we do.  

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   In this reading Cyrus, a Gentile ruler, is referred to as the Lord’s anointed because the Lord used Cyrus to defeat the Babylonians and thus allow the Jews who had been in captivity to return home.   The point of the reading is that God can work through anyone. 

Our second reading this weekend is the beginning of the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians.  In it Paul greets the Thessalonians, and reminds them that they are remembered in his prayers:  “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

  1. We have all heard that we are made in the image and likeness of God, but what does this mean to you?
  2. God used King Cyrus for God’s purposes.  Have you ever felt God using you or someone you know for God’s purposes?
  3. Paul told the Thessalonians that he remembered them in his prayers.  Are there people you remember in prayer?   Have you ever asked someone to remember you in prayer?   

“I think you missed the turn.” Those words were spoken to me by my friend as we were on our way to another friend’s home for dinner. And in fact, they were right. I had indeed missed the turn. In my defense, though, I had been paying more attention to our conversation than I had been to the directions. Fortunately, the missed turn was easily compensated for and we arrived at our destination on time. 

This experience came to mind a few weeks ago when I was praying about a decision I needed to make. In my prayer, while I was trying to be open to God’s will, God didn’t seem (at least to me) to be particularly communicative. It occurred to me that it certainly would have been helpful if God had simply told me: “You missed the turn.” or “You’re headed in the wrong direction.” Unfortunately, neither of these directives was forthcoming. 

I suspect there are times for all of us when we wish that God was clear and unequivocal in what God was asking of us or what God would have us do. If only God would be direct and unambiguous in communicating with us, things would be so much easier. And while on one level this is true, on another—and deeper level—it would negate our free will. And our free will is what defines us as human beings and distinguishes us from the other created beings on the earth. 

Because of our free will, God doesn’t issue clear edicts or direct commands. Instead God communicates with us in much more subtle ways. God communicates with us through the movements of our spirits, in the longings of our hearts, and in the ponderings of our minds. In and through these things, God helps us to understand what God would have us do, or where God would have us go. It is always our free will, though, whether or not we attend to and follow these subtle promptings.

Three things that can help us be open to God’s subtle promptings are a fierce honesty in our prayer, an openness to various possibilities, and a willingness to change direction. Honesty in our prayer is needed because it is easy to come to prayer with a decision already made. We need, though, to be truthful about our personal biases and our desires because, unless we honestly acknowledge them, they can influence our decision making. Similarly, if we aren’t open to various possibilities, it is easy to take some things off the table without ever considering that they might be from God. Finally, in order to be open to God’s subtle promptings, we need to be willing to change directions. If we have already set our course on something, we can’t really be open to what God would have us do. 

Certainly it would be clearer and much easier if God simply told us when we missed a turn or were headed in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, then our choices would not really be free. Given this, the only alternative is to continue to work to be open to God’s subtle promptings and to pray that if we take a wrong turn, we will notice it, correct it, and get back on course. 

November is the month of remembrance, beginning with solemn Evening Prayer for all our beloved dead. The names of all those who have died within the last year will be mentioned during the Litany of the Saints. All other names of the faithful departed will be listed in the worship leaflet. 

Please submit names of the faithful departed.
 

EVENING PRAYER FOR ALL SOULS
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 3:00PM
BASILICA

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/101517.cfm 
 
R.S.V.P.  Re’pondez  s’il vous plait.   This seems like such a simple request.  And yet, so often it is ignored.   Certainly this indicates a lack of social grace.  In our Gospel parable today, however, the people were guilty of more than just a lack of social graces when they ignored the invitation to the wedding feast.   We are told that they not only “refused to come to the feast,” but in some cases “laid hold of and mistreated the King’s servants and even killed them.”   What kind of people would do this?   
 
Well, I suspect they were not all that much different than us.  They were people who had become so self-absorbed that they couldn’t recognize the gift/invitation that was being offered to them.   The anger of the King seems exaggerated (possibly to underline the irretrievability of the invitees decision not to come to the banquet).  It is tempered, though by his largess and generosity in sending his servants out to invite to the feast whomever they could find.    This reminds us that no one is beyond the reach and embrace of our God’s love.   
 
But what about the person who was ejected because he didn’t wear a wedding garment.   Well, since many times guests would come from a distance over dirty and dusty roads, the host often provided an opportunity for them to clean up, as well as a fresh garment for them to wear.  The guest’s refusal to comply with this custom went beyond rudeness and would have been insulting to the host.   The message in this is clear.  It’s not enough just to show up.  Something more is required.  
 
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
  1. Looking back can you see where you have failed to respond or even rejected an invitation from God?
  2. Have there been times when you’ve just shown up in response to God’s invitation, without doing anything else?  
  3. In our second reading Paul talks about living in widely divergent circumstances.   He then says:  “I can do all things in him who strengthen me.”   Can you think of a time when you were strengthened to do something that initially you didn’t think you could do?  
This past August, Fr. Greg Welch, one of our weekend presiders, sent me a link to a story from “CBSN: On Assignment.” The opening sentence of the story indicated that “With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.” In Iceland, close to 100 percent of those women who received a positive test of Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy. Unfortunately, other countries don’t lag far behind in pregnancy termination rates for those who received a positive test for Down syndrome. The report also stated that “according to the most recent data available, the United States has an estimated termination rate for Down syndrome of 67 percent (1995-2011).” 
 
One Icelandic health care professional, when asked about the high rate of pregnancy termination rates for those who have received a positive test for Down syndrome, said: “We don’t look at abortion as murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication …. preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as murder—that’s so black and white. Life isn’t black and white. Life is grey.” 
 
Now certainly, the human condition is no stranger to suffering, and efforts to alleviate suffering are laudable. But we all know Down syndrome children and adults who live happy, productive lives. In fact, it’s safe to say that many lives are enriched when we experience the zest and resilience with which those with Down syndrome face life, despite any limitations it brings. Given this, I think it is fundamentally wrong to say that aborting Down syndrome babies prevents suffering. Further, from my perspective, the fact that the health care professional used the words “possible life,” demonstrates the fundamental flaw in their reasoning. In this regard, we need to be clear. Other than nutrients, nothing further is added to the fetus to make life. It isn’t “possible life.” It is life—plain and simple. 
 
The great lie to the above way of thinking is that children with Down syndrome are somehow inferior and undeserving of life. Quite frankly this is wrong. Life—all life—from the moment of conception to natural death is sacred: no exceptions, no exclusions, no qualifications. The sacred image we bear exists from the moment of our conception. We don’t grow into it. It cannot diminish with age. It is bestowed on us by the gracious favor of a loving God. Created in the image and likeness of God, and infused with a soul that seeks to know and love God, all human life is sacred and is to be respected. 
 
For many years now our Church has designated October as Respect Life Month. During this month particularly, we are called to remember and give witness to our belief that life—in all stages of development and in all its manifestations—is a gracious gift from a loving God. There are no qualifications or limitations to this belief. Because God is the author and source of life, all life is sacred. Our task, our challenge is to seek to promote and enhance life at every moment and in every circumstance. 
 
Human life is indeed a precious gift from a loving God. As followers of Jesus, we are called to show our respect and reverence for life in all we do. To the extent we fail to do this, we fail to give witness to our respect for life. To the extent that we do it well, however, we truly live up to our calling as people created in the image and likeness of God. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100817.cfm

Some scripture scholars suggest that today’s Gospel parable may represent an allegorization of another of Jesus’ parables by one of the early Christian communities.   The parable of tenants rejecting the many messengers (i.e. the prophets) sent by the owner of the vineyard (God) would have supported this belief.   In suggesting this, of course, these scholars are not in any way questioning that it is not the inspired word of God.  Rather, they suggest that the early Christian community had begun to see itself as replacing Israel as God’s chosen people.   Regardless of the origins of this parable, though, it contains a powerful and ever current message.   It invites us to consider how we respond to the many overtures and/or messengers God sends into our lives. 

As an important aside, we need to be clear that the Catholic Church does not teach that God has rejected Israel or that its election as God’s chosen people has ended.  “The Church cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in his inexpressible mercy deigned to establish the Ancient Covenant.”    (The Documents of Vatican II   Decree on Non Christians)    Our Church also teaches, though, that Jesus Christ, “the Lord, is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart, and the answer to all its yearnings.”  (Documents of Vatican II; Decree on The Church Today)

Our first reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, shares the theme of the Gospel.  It speaks of a vineyard that, despite the loving care of its owner, yielded only “wild grapes.”  In the Old Testament the “Vineyard” was a symbol for God’s people.   

In our second reading today from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, Paul reminds us that by prayer and petition and thanksgiving we will come to know “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”

Questions for reflection: 

  1. Looking back on your life can you see times when you have not recognized or perhaps even rejected messengers of God’s presence and grace?
  2. Who have been messengers of God’s presence and grace in your life?   
  3. In regard to this weekend’s second reading have there been times in your life when you have experienced the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding?”   

 

The Basilica celebrates its 2nd Disability Awareness Month this October.  After several years of “Disability Dialogues” our community was asked to identify and eliminate barriers to participation. The designation of a month long series of presentations and other events was established based on what the committee heard.  This has included bringing in national speakers, partnering with other events at The Basilica, and culminating with a Disability Awareness Resource Fair where local organizations are on hand to educate and communicate to our parishioners the resources available to help themselves, family members, and friends to live more inclusive lives.

 

Taize Prayer with added accessibility 
Tuesday, October 10, 5:30pm, Saint Joseph Chapel


Disability Awareness Ministry Fair
Sunday, October 15, After the 9:30 and 11:30am Masses

 

Parking and accessibility information

 

 

My grandmother use to say that going to Mass on Sunday was like hitting the reset button. With 13 children at home, a farm to tend to, and my grandfather driving a semi cross country, I am sure there were plenty of times when a reset button couldn’t come quickly enough. 

As with many things my grandmother told me over the years I found this statement to ring true in my own life this past weekend. My husband and I were dragging our feet Sunday morning debating if we should try and make it to 11:30am Mass or wait and go to 4:30pm, a fairly common question in our house. In the end we ended up at 11:30am and I am glad we did. 

On this particular Sunday I needed to hit the reset button a little earlier. I am not sure I knew that when I arrived feeling a bit sluggish. However, seeing our community come together reminded me that although we are all on our own unique faith journeys, at The Basilica, our community is here to share encouragement, the sign of peace, and ultimately a shared hope for a vibrant faith community and a future full of hope. 

I left feeling renewed, proud to be part of the incredible community, and proud to support the wonderful work taking place 365 days a year. 

This isn’t the first time The Basilica has helped me hit the reset and I am sure it will not be the last. For the better part of the last decade The Basilica community has provided this gentle reminder to me often. 

I have seen our community come together to celebrate joyous moments of baptisms and weddings and difficult movements of loss and grief. I am reminded of it daily when a volunteer simply listens to someone who comes to our door in need of someone to talk to. I am reminded of it often by my fellow staff members who tirelessly provide comfort for those experiencing loss and sadness. I have seen volunteers spend hours counseling individuals in our employment ministry for weeks and months until they have found jobs. 

The Basilica’s valuable work in our community is possible thanks to parishioners of every age who have pitched in and pledged. These moments, along with essentials like heat, lights, ministries, music, and so many more are not possible without each and every financial stewardship pledge we receive. Because when our community comes together so much is possible! 

I hope you will consider a 2018 pledge today. You can pledge online at mary.org/donate, fill out a pledge form and mail it in, or bring it to Mass the weekend of October 7 and 8. You may also contact Stephanie Bielmas at sbielmas@mary.org or at 612.317.3472 for answers to any questions you may have about supporting The Basilica. 

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