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For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  


http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082414.cfm

What do you think I should do?  Is this a good color on me?  What did you mean by that?  We often ask questions of one another.  Most of the time these questions are relatively simple and benign.  At other times, though, our questions ask for more than a simple opinion.  I think this was the case in this Sunday’s Gospel.   Jesus was in the region of Caesarea Philippi when he asked his disciples:  “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  His disciples must have been pleased that they could fill him in on the local gossip.  “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”   Jesus, though, wasn’t interested in what others were saying, and so he asked his disciples:  “But who do you say that I am?”   Peter replied:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”    Jesus then told Peter that this had been revealed to him by “my heavenly Father”   Jesus then told Peter he was the “rock” up which he would build his church.  At the end of the Gospel, Jesus “ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.”  

I suspect the reason Jesus asked his disciples:  “But who do you say that I am?”  was because he wanted them to know him --- and his mission --- on a deeper level.  I also think he was challenging them not just to know about him, but to come to know him, personally and intimately.  

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   In the section we read this Sunday, Shebna, the master of the palace of King Hezekiah, has opposed Isaiah’s council.  In response, Isaiah prophesies Shebna’s loss of position and power.  “Thus says the Lord to Shebna, master of the Palace; ‘I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station.’”  

Our second reading this weekend is from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.   In the section we read this Sunday Paul reminds us that the ways and work of God are beyond our comprehension. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1.  How would you respond to Jesus question:  “But who do you say that I am?”   
2.  What helps you to come to know someone?   Does this also work with Jesus?
3.  I need to continually remind myself that the ways and work of God are beyond my comprehension.  Is this true for you as well?   

Photo Person Jill Olson violinist summer soloist

On Sunday, August 17th, violinist Jill Olson will play at the 9:30 am Mass.  Jill plays with the Hennepin String Quarter and is a substitute violinist for the Minnesota Orchestra  She is also an Adjunct Professor of violin at Gustavus and is a regularly feature soloist at The Basilica.  

 

My grandfather was a professional cyclist. I inherited many pictures of him riding his bike or standing on the winner’s podium. In my favorite photo he models a hat. A taped-on inscription suggests that he wore only this kind of hats. When asked about this early advertisement experiment he said that he was made to do it. He seems to have been a reluctant model advertising his favorite hat. This is how I often feel about spreading the Good News. Though it is my favorite topic and message, I am somewhat reluctant to advertise it or model it, especially in our world today where religion is often viewed with suspicion and believers are considered naïve, antiquarians or worse, extremists.

As a community of believers we can react to this in a number of different ways. We can ignore the truth and act as if it were not so. We can close our doors on the world as we hunker down with like-minded people and seek comfort in our cherished traditions. Or we can open our minds and hearts and engage in a dialogue with the many challenges this world offers while speaking the language of faith appropriate for our times, rather than of times past.

Since his election on March 13, 2013 Pope Francis has repeatedly warned against options one and two and quoting the documents of the Second Vatican Council he has asked all of us to be evangelizers. The Greek word Euangelion means Good News. It is used 41 times in the New Testament to refer to the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the mystery of God’s unconditional love. This mystery is God’s mystery and it is to be our mystery, our message, and our task. Ask yourself, what gifts have been given to me as a means of spreading the Good News.  How can I discover what my gifts are? Listen and see how God is calling you. We are called to bring this Good News, this mystery of God’s unconditional love to the whole world, in deed and if necessary, in word. And when we have to speak we are to do it in ways the people of every time and place can understand and embrace.

I keep my favorite photo of my grandfather on my desk. The photo reminds me that though he was a reluctant model of hats, he did it. Likewise, though we are often reluctant models of Christ, we are called to do it, even in our ever changing and challenging world. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.

 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081714.cfm

Our Gospel this weekend presents us with what --- at least initially --- looks like an unflattering picture of Jesus.   We are told that a Canaanite woman came to Jesus and called out:  “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”   We are told that Jesus “did not say a word in answer to her.”    Jesus’ disciples want him to send her away.  Jesus response to them was: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”   But the woman “came and did Jesus homage, saying Lord, help me.”  Jesus tried to brush her off with the rather abrupt response that: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”   In reply the woman said: “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”   Jesus responded to her by telling her:  “O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish.”     

What are we to make of this strange conversation?   First, it must be noted that historically Jews had little to do with Canaanites.   Jesus’ response, then, would have been in line with the spirit of the times.  Second, while eventually Jesus commissioned and sent his disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations, initially he wanted their mission to begin with the Jews.  Thirdly, though, and perhaps most importantly, Jesus as he does elsewhere in the Gospels, responded to the woman’s obvious faith.   It is the woman’s faith that is the most important element in this Gospel. 

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   It shares the theme of the Gospel.  In it Isaiah prophesizes:  “The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord ………. All who keep the Sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer………. for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”    

For our second reading this weekend, we continue to read from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.  In this section, Paul, while identifying himself as the “apostle to the Gentiles,” also preaches to his fellow Jews and reminds them that “the gifts and call of God are irrevocable.” 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:    
1.    When you have prayed about something, have you ever felt that initially your prayer was rebuffed?    
2.    Has your faith ever drawn you to deeper prayer? 
3.    If God wants God’s house to be a house of prayer for all peoples, why do some want to limit access?    

Our guest soloist at 9:30am Mass on Sunday, August 10th is oboeist Mark Seerup.  Mark has performed, recorded and toured for 25 with the Minnesot Orchestra and has also play with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and other Twin Cities groups.  

Trio Filpino are the featured guest musicians at the 4:30pm Mass on August 10th. Members include Dr. Jose D. Uriarte, Isabella Dawis and Francesa Dawis.  Dr. Uriarte has performed around the world in Canada, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China and the Philippines.  Presently, he teaches at MacPhail Center for Music.  

Isabella Dawis returns from summer studies at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and SongFest in Los Angeles.  She has stage credits with the Minnesota Opera, Children's Theatre Compnay, Chanhassen and the Guthrie.  Francesca Dawis just completed her freshman year at Stanford University.  She recently placed 1st in three divisions (Aria, Art Song and Musical Theater) at the NATS vocal competition in the San Francisco BAy area.  Francesca has perform locally at the Guthrie, Children's Theatre Company and the Ordway. 

For many years I lived with what a friend of mine liked to call: “an attitude of scarcity.” I was always worried that there was never going to be enough — especially enough money. I suspect I developed this attitude during my college years when I was worried about paying tuition and other bills.  After ordination I continued to worry about money. And because I worried there would not be enough, there often wasn’t enough. The fact of the matter is, however, that no matter how much money I had, it wouldn’t have been enough. Enough was always more than I had at any given moment.   

My “attitude of scarcity” continued for several years. Surprising enough, however, it began to change one day when I was the victim of a burglary. For several years, at the end of each day I would put my spare change in a large decorative wooden box someone had given me. Every now and again, I would count the money and was pleased and excited when at one point it totaled over five hundred dollars. Then one night when I was away on my day off, someone broke in to the rectory and stole my box of money — along with several other items.   

The police were called and a report filed with the insurance company. I was informed, though, that because there was no way of verifying the amount of money that was stolen, there was nothing they could do about it. Initially, I was frustrated and angry. I worried that because I lost my stash of cash, I would certainly encounter some problem or difficulty and I wouldn’t have enough money to deal with it.  I waited and worried — but nothing happened. I survived the loss without incident. I didn’t have to cut back on my expenses or make other sacrifices. And actually my life went on quite nicely. 

When I talked about this incident with my spiritual director he suggested that perhaps I had turned a corner, and instead of having an “attitude of scarcity,” I was beginning to develop an “attitude of abundance.” An attitude of abundance tells us that because God loves us, there will always be enough, that we don’t have to worry. An attitude of abundance is not suggesting a simplistic: “don’t worry, be happy” philosophy. Rather, it is an attitude that reminds us that worry is a waste of imagination. What will happen, will happen. Yet in anything and everything that happens, God is with us. Jesus was clear about this. “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are not you more important than they.  Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life span.”  Matthew 6:26  

An attitude of scarcity seems to reoccur with irritating regularity in my life, especially when I find myself worrying about something. At those times I need to remember that as God has been with me and cared for me in the past, so God is with me now and will be in the future. This doesn’t mean that I won’t encounter difficult or unpleasant situations. And it doesn’t mean that I will always have everything I want. I have learned, though, that in God’s love we are held firm and secure, and with God’s love there is always enough. 

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  


http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081014.cfm

Our Gospel this weekend follows immediately after last Sunday’s Gospel, which contained the story of feeding of the five thousand.  We are told that Jesus “made his disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  After doing so, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.”   Often in the scriptures we are told that Jesus went off by himself to pray.  This is a good model for us.  In this instance, though, while Jesus was praying and the disciples were in the boat, a storm came up and the boat was being tossed about by the waves.   We are told that Jesus “came toward them walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.”   Peter then said:  “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”   Jesus told him to come, but when Peter “saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Jesus then stretched out his hand and caught Peter.  “After they got into the boat, the wind died down.  Those who were in the boat did him homage saying, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’”   

There is much that could be said about this Gospel.  Perhaps its most important lesson, though, is that it reminds us that in the storms of our lives Jesus is always with us, and when we cry out to him in our need, he will respond to us.  

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the first Book of Kings.   It is the wonderful story of Elijah fleeing to Mount Horeb.  He is tired and ready to abandon his role of prophet.  God calls him to “stand on the mountain before the Lord, the Lord will be passing by.”  God, though, was not present in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire. Rather God made God’s presence known in a “tiny whispering sound.”  This reminds us that we can experience God’s presence now only in great and powerful events, but also in small, unexpected ways.  

For our second reading this weekend, we continue to read from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.  In the section we read this Sunday, Paul expresses his sadness that so many Israelites are unwilling to embrace faith in Jesus Christ.  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1.  In the storms of your life, have you ever called out to God for help?
2.  How did God response to your call?
3.  It is easy to see God’s hand at work in great and powerful events (Acts of God).  When have you felt God’s presence and grace in quiet and subtle ways? 

On Sunday, August 3rd, there will  be two visiting soloists at Basilica of Saint Mary Sunday liturgies.

At the 9:30am Sunday Mass, Lynn Erickson will play the trumpet.  Ms. Erickson has been second trumpet of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.  She maintains a full schedule of performances, and is a frequent soloist at the Basilica.  Ms. Erickson also serves on the adjunct faculty at both Augsburg and Macalester Colleges. 

At the 4:30pm Sunday Mass, Gigi Yau will sing sacred Chinese music .  Gigi became Christian at age 12 and that's when her music journey began.  She attended a Christian school in Hong Kong and had opportunties for music education.  She sings in church settings, performs classical music and has sung with the Minnesota Chorale.  

 

 

 

In August and September we focus on the stewardship of our gifts at The Basilica. We encourage each and every member of The Basilica community to consider what gifts, talents, and skills they have been given, and how they might put those gifts to use for the betterment of our community — our parish, our city, and our world.

At The Basilica there are currently more than 1500 volunteers in more than 300 volunteer positions. As you consider how you might begin or continue your commitment to The Basilica in the next year, we would urge you to consider as a part of your commitment, how you might focus on enriching your own faith life. To fulfill your ministry to the best of your abilities it is essential that you nurture yourself spiritually. Will you commit to daily prayer? Will you attend a retreat? Will you commit, as part of your stewardship pledge, to attend a program or two within our ongoing adult learning offerings on Sunday mornings?

At The Basilica of Saint Mary we strive to provide opportunities for our community to learn and to grow by working with a number of speakers to offer programming on many varied topics. In the upcoming program year, we will learn not only about some of the great saints in our Catholic history, but also about contemporary leaders of social justice in our Catholic tradition. We will delve into end-of-life issues and offer programs on forgiveness, mindfulness, and meditation. We will offer programming on the Bible and the Qur’an and, during Advent, we will have a presentation on waiting for the Messiah from the Jewish perspective. We hope that you will consider these topics as part of your own growth and development in the faith this year and make the pledge to attend at least one. View the various offerings on our website and see what topics speak to you and participate in as many of these programs as you feel called.

Also, as you consider living out your call, you might consider reading the new book, Stewardship: Living a Biblical Call by Bernard F. Evans. Dr. Evans has spoken a number of times at The Basilica on topics of stewardship, and his latest book highlights the six stewardship themes of biblical stewardship that we focus on at The Basilica. The book “ties the Catholic invitation to stewardship to biblical foundations as well as the social teaching of the church.” Dr. Evans will be at The Basilica’s Parish Picnic on September 7 to sign copies of his book and has included a dedication to The Basilica of Saint Mary within his new book.

Please, take some time to consider how you might enrich your faith life in this coming program year and how you might share your gifts with your faith community. We look forward to our work together!

 

We welcome the Jewish Women Artists' Circle exhibit to the John XXIII Gallery at The Basilica.  The exhibit focuses on creation and on the Kabbalah, and features work by the Circle, an artist group from the Twin Cities. The exhibit is called "Creation! And There was Evening And There Was Morning" and "Kabbalah:  Envisioning the Infinite."  The Circle studies Jewish sources with scholars and present exhibits on Jewish themes.  

For the Creation exhibit, the artists explored the first chapter of Genesis, the creation of heaven and earth, of light and darkness, of stars and water, and of living creatures.  In preparation, they read many different translations of the text as well as mirashim, stories that embellish and offer further explanations and interpretations of the Biblical text.  They also  had study sessions on evolution, learning about natural selection and the wondrous diversity of living things.  

The Kabbalah exhibit explores the Jewish text on mysticism, which is at least 1800 years old and presented in the revelations of Ezekiel.  

Members of the Jewish Women's Artists' Circle include Sandy Baron, Jane Bassuk, Rachel Breen, Sandra A. Brick, Gloria Cooper, Lucy Rose Fischer, Bette Globus Goodman, Renanah Halpern, Natalie Halpern (Eichen), Barbara "Boko" Kvasnick-Nunez, Joyce Lyon, Lynda Monick-Isenberg, Aimee Orkin, Paula Leiter Pergament, Dianne Silverman, Sharon Stillman, Anita White, Rochelle Woldorsky

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