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Archives: September 2014
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
I think this Sunday’s Gospel contains one of Jesus’ most difficult parables. It is the parable of the landowner who went out at various times of the day to hire laborers for his vineyard. When the time came to pay the workers they were all paid the same, even those who were hired late in the day. When those who were hired first complained about this the landowner said: “My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?”
Now as I have mentioned previously parables are not meant to be taken literally. They are simply stories that Jesus used to tell us something about God or about our relationship with God. The point of a parable occurs when our sense of what is right or proper is troubled. In the case of today’s parable that point occurs is when everyone is paid the same. We need to understand that this parable was not meant to tell us something about laborers or wages. Rather it is a story about God’s love. It reminds us that God’s love is different from human love. God loves all of us freely, equally, and without measure. It doesn’t matter when we come to God or let God into our lives.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Now usually the first reading and the Gospel reading share a common theme. (The second reading may continue that theme, but more often it is a continuous reading usually from one of Paul’s letters.) I think the link between the first reading today and the Gospel is found in the words from the first reading. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”
Our second reading this Sunday is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians. In the section we read this weekend, Paul rejoices that Christ will be glorified whether he lives or dies. He then urges the Philippians: “Only conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. The laborers in this Gospel today grumbled against the landowner because they didn’t think he was being fair. Have you ever grumbled against God?
2. Through the prophet Isaiah God told the people that God’s thoughts were not their thoughts nor their ways God’s ways. Has there been a time when you haven’t understood God’s ways and/or thoughts?
3. What does it mean for you to conduct yourself in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ?
Many years ago, when my older brother was in first grade, he fell on the school playground and broke his arm. In those days, Anoka only had a small hospital and certainly no emergency room, so when my dad was called, he picked up my brother and took him to the Doctor’s office. As my dad told the story, the doctor was trying to get the broken arm back in its proper position so he could put a cast on it. At one point in the process, however, the doctor must have done something that cause a spike in pain, because my brother let out a yelp and with tears in his eyes looked at my dad and said, “Don’t let him hurt me anymore.” My dad told me that it was at that moment he realized what it meant to be a parent.
When my dad told me this story I had just graduated from college, and I think he was trying to make the point that there are certain moments in life when a realization we had previously missed, suddenly dawns on us. In this particular case, I think my dad was trying to help me realize that since I had graduated from college, I was “grown up” and needed to get my act together.
I suspect in each of our lives there are similar kinds of moments of realization—moments when we realize what it means to be in love, or what I means to be a spouse or a parent, or what it means to be a friend. The list could go on and on. I would like to suggest, though, that in addition to these singular moments of realization, there also should be ongoing realizations in our lives. From my perspective, one of the ongoing realizations in our lives should be the realization of what it means to be a Christian.
On a regular basis, we should realize that being a Christian means that we can’t always do or have what we want. For example, on a regular basis, I think we should be struck by the realization that if we are going to call ourselves Christians, we have to work at forgiveness. On a regular basis, we should realize that we can’t always put our own needs first. On a regular basis, we should realize that judgment is God’s business and not ours. On a regular basis, we should realize that we are called to care for those who are less fortunate. And on a regular basis, we should realize that being a Christian means that we are called to love our neighbor as our self.
If we are never caught up short by the realization that we have failed to live and act as a follower of Jesus, I would suggest that we have made being a Christian far too easy. Being a Christian shouldn’t always be easy or convenient. At times we will fail. This realization should be a regular and reoccurring experience in our lives. Once we understand this, I believe we are on our way to an adult and mature faith.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below, or copy and paste it into your browser.
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This Feast is always celebrated on September 14th, and when September 14th falls on a Sunday it supersedes the usual. celebration of that day --- in this case the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Our Gospel for this Feast is a section of Nicodemus’ visit to Jesus. In the section we read today Jesus tells Nicodemus: “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” These words remind us that for believers the cross is a sign of hope and life, not death. It is a symbol of God’s love and the promise of eternal life.
Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of Numbers. It prefigures Jesus’ words in the Gospel. We are told that as punishment for their grumbling and complaining, the Lord sent “saraph serpents which bit the people so that many of them died.” When Moses prayed for the people, the Lord said to Moses: “Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.”
Our second reading this weekend is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians. It is a Christological hymn that reminds us that “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped ……………….. He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Do you think the cross has lost some of its meaning/impact because so many people wear a cross as a form of jewelry?
2. How would you explain the cross to a non-Christian?
3. What does it mean to you that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son?
This weekend we have our annual Parish Picnic and Ministry Fair on the East Lawn of The Basilica after the 9:30 and 11:30am Masses. It is always fun to get together as a parish family and celebrate a kind of “homecoming” each September after the summer months. School begins, most vacations have ended, our programming gears up for another year and the beautiful season of fall ushers itself in. It seems to all meld into the rhythm of life.
And this fall we are adjusting to several new things that have arrived at The Basilica over the past few months. We have undergone quite a bit of construction on our campus within the school building and the Cowley building. We have new lighting on the front of our church. We have a new tenant in our school — we welcome Child Garden Montessori Child Care Center. We have several new staff members, and we have many exciting concerts, exhibits, and events in store for this coming year.
As a staff member at The Basilica, I find it inspiring to be part of the planning process and see the year take shape as our volunteer leadership and staff work together in creating a calendar full of liturgies and prayer experiences, dynamic speakers and panelists, challenging outreach, and social justice events and workshops that speak to and nourish our spiritual needs.
I was speaking to a couple of members of our parish this week and we were sharing how it surprises us that even though our parish is so large, it never ceases to be a place of warmth and welcome to all those who walk through its doors. So many times I have heard from RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) inquirers that when they first come to The Basilica, they feel immediately like they have come home. It is indeed a very special place.
Be sure to stop by our annual Parish Picnic and Ministry Fair on the East Lawn this weekend for some good food, great conversation and comradery, and our vast array of ministries available to you in our parish community. We do have a wonderfully welcoming parish and we look forward to seeing you in the coming months as we gather many times to enjoy each other and find God within each one of us.
September 2nd will be the first day for children and families from Child Garden Montessori at The Basilica of Saint Mary. Child Garden Montessori is the new tenant in the Basilica School. They will share the space with the Basilica, who will use the School for their evening and weekend programs.
Child Garden Montessori serves families with infants ages 6 weeks old to children 6 years old, and they have combined two previous locations into this new location at The Basilica.