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For this Sundays readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082717.cfm
I would guess that at some point in each of our lives, someone has asked us for our “honest” opinion about something. What would you do, if you were me? Do you think I’m wrong? What’s the worst that could happen? Something akin to this happened in our Gospel for this weekend. In that Gospel Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do people say that the Son of May is?" His disciples must have been proud to be able to fill in him on the local gossip: “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus, though, wasn’t satisfied with knowing what others thought of him. His next question was: “But who do you say that I am?” In reply Simon Peter said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then told Peter: “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”
Jesus was clear with his disciples. He didn’t want them simply to know about him. He wanted his disciples to know him. This same thing is true for us. Jesus wants us to know him, not just to know about him. And the way we come to know Jesus is by spending time with him in prayer.
Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. In the passage we read this weekend, “Shebna, master of the palace,” is demoted for something he had done, and in his place Eliakim is promoted: “I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder.” The emphasis in this passage is that, just as Peter was proclaimed “rock,” so too it is by God’s authority that Eliakim is given a position of responsibility and authority.
Again this weekend, our second reading is taken from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. In it Paul reminds us: "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:
- Who do you say that Jesus is?
- The giving of keys was mentioned in both the First Reading today and the Gospel. I suspect this was a sign of authority. Has anyone ever entrusted you with their keys? How did you feel about that?
- More often than I care to admit I have discovered anew that God’s judgments are inscrutable and God’s ways unsearchable. Has this also happened to you?
STATEMENT REGARDING RECENT ACTS OF TERRORISM AND VIOLENCE
From Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Bishop Andrew Cozzens
DATE: August 18, 2017
The recent violent attacks in Charlottesville and Barcelona, as well as the bombing at a Bloomington Mosque earlier this month, have forced all of us to confront the existence of evil in this world. We join men and women of good will around our Archdiocese and around the globe who condemn all senseless violence and expressions of hatred. While we cannot know or judge what is in the heart of another, we know that we need to confront any evidence that racism and hateful prejudice reside in our hearts. The temptation to hopelessness is all too real, but we know that we have in Christ the answer to despair.
Pope Francis reminds us: “The Christian’s real force is the force of truth and of love, which involves renouncing all forms of violence. Faith and violence are incompatible! Instead, faith and strength go together. Christians are not violent; they are strong. And with what kind of strength? That of meekness, the strength of meekness, the strength of love.”
We must be people of encounter who look for opportunities to engage others in ways that acknowledge the dignity of each human person. Living in such a diverse community, the possibilities are real and endless. We need to be witnesses of peace, hope, kindness and charity, which should begin in our homes, neighborhoods and parishes.
Let us acknowledge and promote the power of prayer. We ask the faithful of this Archdiocese and our neighbors of good will to join us in praying for those who have been killed and injured, as well as for all who have experienced the scourge of racism and discrimination. The Mass for Reconciliation (#16 in the Roman Missal) and the Mass in Time of War or Civil Disturbance (#31) would both be appropriate for parishes to celebrate in the days to come. Let us pray for peace, patience and solidarity in our community and among all peoples.
Director of Communications
Every year in August and September, we focus on Stewardship of Gifts at The Basilica—a time to reflect on our God given gifts and talents and how we can share them with our communities. This year we have asked volunteers from a variety of ministries to share their stories with you. Today’s story comes from Chris who has volunteered with a variety of ministries for several years. Most recently she has been an integral part of the Immigrant Support Ministry and with her husband, has been part of the planning committee for our second annual School Supply Drive for the Ascension Catholic School in Minneapolis. Committee members from this ministry will be available today during our Basilica Day celebration on the West Lawn following morning masses.
Chris says, “I choose to volunteer at The Basilica because of the wide variety of opportunities I have been invited to be a part of that present me with the opportunity to manifest Christ’s calling to “Love One Another.” As part of my work on behalf of The Basilica, I have met many wonderful people and connected with other groups of faith and non faith-based organizations who share a genuine, compassionate, selfless desire to be of service to others.
“One of my most recent and memorable experiences was last spring when I participated with a group from the Immigration Advocacy Committee to work with Immigrants at a shelter supported by the Sisters of Loreto in El Paso, TX. There were many moments that took my breath away, when every day the face of Christ was so visible in mothers, fathers, children of every age, and volunteers, and we heard stories of great courage, hardship, strength, kindness, unfailing faith, and trust in strangers. It is not possible to experience this and not be changed and challenged to do more.
“I encourage all Basilica parishioners to check out the volunteer opportunities that may involve a brief time commitment.”
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082017.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, though, that Jesus “did not say a word in answer to her.” Jesus’ disciples want him to send her away. Jesus told them, though: “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 thought their mission should 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:
- When you have prayed about something, have you ever felt that initially your prayer was rebuffed?
- Has your faith ever drawn you to deeper prayer?
- If God wants God’s house to be a house of prayer for all peoples, why do some want to limit access?
She was one of my favorite aunts: intelligent, beautiful, and accomplished. When she walked into a room everyone took note of her. The final two years of her life she lived with dementia. I remember my last visit with her very well. I went to her room in my hometown’s memory care center, knocked on the door, and entered. There she sat, by the window. She was beautifully dressed. Her hair was lovely and she even wore a little make-up. With her elegant hands she pointed at a chair and invited me to sit down.
She told me about her parents and her siblings. When she spoke about her favorite niece Jeanette, I mentioned that I was Jeanette’s son, Johan. “That is not possible,” she said as “Johan lives in the United States. He is some kind of a priest” she continued. “He is a very nice boy. Every time he comes to Belgium on holiday he visits me.” After that definitive statement she continued to talk about her past.
When I was ready to leave I asked if I could give her a kiss. She agreed. As I leaned down to embrace her she whispered: “and to think I did not recognize you.” We hugged and cried. By the time I put on my coat she had returned to the world of her past, unaware of the present.
“To think I did not recognize you.”
This phrase came to mind when I read today’s Gospel (Matthew 14:22-33). The apostles had been with Jesus for a while. Yet in this passage they do not recognize him. Granted, he came to them during the night, walking on water. So, they thought him a ghost.
But when he spoke to them they recognized his voice. Peter, the most impulsive of them all, jumped out of the boat and started walking toward Jesus. Yet, as soon as he realized he was walking on water, which is a physical impossibility he started to sink.
There are different levels of recognition. My aunt recognized me as a nice person but not as her nephew, until she did. The apostles first thought Jesus a ghost, then they recognized him as Jesus, but not as who he truly was, the Son of God.
Jesus comes to us even today. Sometimes we recognize him, most often we don’t because he comes to us in disguise. How can we recognize him? By looking with God’s eyes, for God sees past any disguise and recognizes Christ in each one of us.
God regards us with mercy, love, and tenderness. When we do the same then we will see as God sees and recognize Christ in one another. Sometimes this is easy. Most often, it is not. And it can prove to be particularly difficult when Christ comes to us as a person who is homeless, who is an immigrant, who is different from us in terms of race or religion. And yet, it is only when we recognize Christ in those who are most different from us that we will truly know Christ.
It is our hope that at the end of time when we see Christ face to face we will not have to say: “to think I did not recognize you.”
- In the Gospel and in the first reading for this weekend God is found in unexpected places. Where have you found God’s unexpected presence in your life?
- Has there been a time when you were afraid or fearful, and then suddenly realized God’s presence?
- Paul lamented that some people had refused to accept the Gospel. What would you say to someone who had rejected the Gospel?
Join us for Mass on Sunday, August 13, as our choirs return to celebrate the Basilica’s Solemn Dedication.
Following 7:30, 9:30, and 11:30am Masses
Stay after Mass for an ice cream social and celebration of the amazing work being done in our ministries. Enjoy Sebastian Joe’s ice cream as well as activities for children and adults, and tours of the Mary Garden.
Register to Volunteer
Volunteers are needed to scoop ice cream and pack school supplies.
Register online or contact Ashley.
A few weeks ago I spent my day off with another priest. For lunch we bought some sandwiches and beverages, and found a park where we had an informal picnic. A few yards away from us, two small children were having a great time playing on the grass, laughing, and enjoying each other. I assumed they were related or that their parents were friends. At one point, though, their mothers came to collect them, and when they arrived at the spot where the boys were playing, they introduced themselves to each another. I was surprised that they didn’t know each other, and that the boys weren’t friends or relatives. It then occurred to me that such is the innocence of youth. When we are young, we don’t have a lot of preconceived ideas about others. We don’t have to know much about them to interact with them and enjoy their company.
As we move along the road of life, though, at some point things change. We move from a childlike openness to people we don’t know, to being suspicious of them and/or their motives. On the one hand, there is some merit to this. If we naively assume that everyone is good and kind and nice, we are going to be disappointed, and even hurt. On the other hand, though, when we lose an openness to others, we can fail to see them as God sees them—as a beloved son or daughter.
It seems to me that we need to strike a balance between these two approaches. More importantly, in trying to find this balance we need to be willing to err on the side of love. In our world today there is much that can cause us to be suspicious and even anxious. And sometimes without even realizing it, and without it becoming a conscious choice, these feelings can move into animosity and hatred. At these times, we need to remember that in the parable of the last judgement, (Mt. 25:31-46) Jesus taught us that He is to be found in every encounter we have with the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the needy, the stranger, and the forgotten. We may not recognize him, but he is there.
Recognizing the presence of Christ in others is a challenge. In my own life I fail at it more often than I succeed. We need to remember, though, that God created us in God’s image and likeness, and because of this, we are all beloved sons and daughters of God—no exceptions, no exclusions, no omissions. If we allow ourselves to be guided by our better angels and if we are open to God’s grace, I believe we are more apt to recognize the presence of Christ in one another. And if we are able to do this with others, maybe, just maybe, others might recognize the presence of Christ in us.
- When have you experienced a “transfiguring moment” in your life?
- What do you remember most from this experience?
- Apocalyptic literature is not meant to be taken literally. It is special type of literature that uses exaggerated, symbolic language to make a particular point. Have you ever read this kind of literature other than in the Bible?
500 years later: Luther in our times
The Martin Luther exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) was the first of many lectures, concerts, exhibits, and prayer services that will mark the year leading up to October 31, 2017. This day is the 500th anniversary of Luther’s famous nailing of his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. These events offer opportunities to study Luther and Lutheranism against the backdrop of our 21st century and increasingly dynamic political, social and religious realities.
Occasioned by this anniversary of the Reformation, Mia organized an impressive exhibit dedicated to Martin Luther, the de facto father of the Protestant Reformation. Art and artifacts from around Germany were gathered to shed light on the life of Luther against the background of the very complex political and religious realities of his time. It was a wildly popular exhibit, especially for the many Lutherans who inhabit our state.
Very prominent in the exhibit was the pulpit used by Martin Luther. I spent quite a bit of time looking at it and listening to onlookers’ comments. Some thought it looked very Catholic, which indeed it was at one point. Others wondered if anyone else but Luther had ever preached from that pulpit, which of course they did. Someone mused if a Rabbi had ever spoken from that pulpit. Someone chimed in, “what about an Imam?” “Probably not,” I thought. “But maybe one day.”
Pulpits are very important in our houses of worship. Rabbis, priests, imams, pastors, and other faith leaders address their congregations from their pulpits. And when they speak from the pulpit they speak with great authority. It is from the pulpit that all sorts of hatred and divisions have been preached throughout the ages, a practice which even continues today. By contrast, the pulpit is best used to build bridges, to invite people in to a culture of encounter, to preach love and compassion. Pulpits should be used to unite, not to divide.
I was happy to be a member of the group responsible for the interfaith interpretation of the Luther exhibit. Our group included representatives from Judaism, Christianity and Islam. We had candid and enlightening conversations which enriched our understanding of Luther and one another. We were able to connect with each other on a very profound level without denouncing our own faiths. We built bridges and broke down walls.
Maybe this anniversary can be an occasion to take the next step in the ongoing reform of our faith communities, a step that we can all take together.
Pope Francis has called on Catholics to preach A Revolution of Love and Tenderness and to live it out in our communities. There is nothing exclusively Catholic about this.
On the contrary, all of us- Jews, Christians, Muslims and all people of faith- can and ought to respond to the challenges posed by our divided and broken world with love and tenderness. Just imagine if all of us preached a shared Revolution of Love and Tenderness from the pulpits in our synagogues, churches, mosques, and temples all around the world.
Now that would be a radical reformation. It is time. Humanity has waited long enough.
By Johan M. J. van Parys, Ph.D.
Published BASILICA Magazine Spring 2017, A Revolution of Love and Tenderness