thank_you

On this Catechetical Sunday, we THANK our dedicated and fantastic parish catechists!

All of us at St. Stanislaus appreciate your generosity of service to our faith community.

Welcome Fr. Michael Mullan!

untitled (9)                               untitled (8)

This week Archbishop Chaput announced the appointment of an additional parochial vicar at St. Stanislaus! On Monday, September 22nd we welcome Fr. Michael Mullan to the parish. Fr. Michael has been ordained a priest 8 years and is eagerly anticipating his service in the parish. Originally born in Delaware County, PA, he and his family moved to Delaware during his youth. Fr. Michael is a graduate of Salesianum School; an independent Catholic secondary school founded by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales and located in Wilmington, DE. He did his priestly formation and theological studies in Rome, and then ministered in Ireland after ordination. Please join me in welcoming him to Lansdale for what I hope will be a fulfilling and joyful assignment with the people of St. Stanislaus and the children of Mater Dei Catholic School.

Archbishop Chaput Presents World Meeting of Families theme to Pontifical Council

Presentation of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, 2015

Vatican City, 16 September 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Archbishops Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, U.S.A., presented the World Meeting of Families on the theme “Love is our mission: the family fully alive”, which will take place in the North American city from 22 to 27 September 2015.

In his presentation Archbwmfiishop Chaput commented on Philadelphia’s deep religious roots and expressed his hope that Pope Francis may be present at next year’s meeting, at which between ten and fifteen thousand people from all over the world are expected to attend. He also explained that the theme of the Meeting was based on St. Irenaeus’ famous words, “the Glory of God is man fully alive”. “In like manner, the glory of men and women is their capacity to love as God loves. Life in a family is a summons to embody that love in everyday life”.

The event in Philadelphia will be accompanied by an official document, a catechesis that “will help parish and diocesan leaders, catechists and other interested persons prepare Catholics across the globe for next year’s meeting. … It develops its teaching in ten simple steps. It starts with the purpose of our creation and moves into the nature of our sexuality; the covenant of marriage; the importance of children; the place of priesthood and religious life in the ecology of the Christian community; the Christian home as a refuge for the wounded heart; the role of the Church; and the missionary witness of Christian families to the wider world”.

“The text gives us a foundation for all of the different programming that will go into the World Meeting of Families”, continued Archbishop Chaput, “from major talks, to panels and breakout sessions, to family entertainment throughout the event. The text is currently available in English and Spanish. Portuguese, French and other language editions are planned this fall through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The catechesis also includes the special prayer we commissioned to prepare for the 2015 gathering”.

In addition, a specially-commissioned oil painting will be displayed in Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul throughout the World Meeting. By the artist Neil Carlin, it represents the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary and Joseph – along with Mary’s parents, Sts. Anne and Joachim. “They are a reminder that, today and throughout history, the Christian family includes both the young and the elderly; it reaches beyond parents and child to include grandparents and many other extended relations”.

Archbishop Paglia presented the events that will be organized by his dicastery this year and the next, in relation to the theme of the family. On 18 September, with the collaboration of Caritas International, a seminar will be held on “Family and poverty”, in which it 150 experts on the theme are expected to participate. On 28 September, with the theme “The blessing of longevity”, the elderly and grandparents will meet with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square. From 22 to 24 January 2015, an international congress of associations, movements and groups for the family and for life will meet with the aim of “Reviewing together the Extraordinary Synod on the Family”, and on 24 March, anniversary of the publication of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium vita, a prayer vigil will be held in the Roman basilica of St. Mary Major.

Finally, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family reported that every day until the opening of the Synod (5 October) on the site www.familia.va, there will be a special edition of “Jarà – the spectacle of life”, which will present through words and images the main themes of the Synod and explain how they figure in the Instrumentum Laboris. During the assembly there will be a weekly note presenting and summarizing the work of the Synod fathers. All this will be supplemented with exclusive interviews with bishops and experts.

“Are you envious because I am generous?”

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 21, 2014

When Jesus teaches through parables, he expresses profound truths with simple stories and images that engage minds and hearts. In the Old Testament, the use of parables reflects an ancient, culturally universal method of teaching an ethical lesson applicable to everyday life, by using symbolic stories with concrete characters and actions. Most of the time, the original audience that first heard these stories was left to draw their own conclusions. Other times, the evangelists provided an explanation of Jesus’ story. Often the indirectness of parables makes the wisdom of Jesus inaccessible to hostile literalists.

untitled (7)The parable of the workers in the vineyard in today’s Gospel (Matthew 20:1-16) serves as a corrective to false notions of entitlement and merit. The story reflects the socio-economic background of Palestine at the time of Jesus. The parable is offensive to us and it challenges our sense of justice. In order to grasp the full impact of the story, it is essential to understand the sequence of events in the parable. The householder hires labourers for his vineyard about 6:00 a.m. for a denarius, which would be considered a fair day’s wage. We are already given a hint of the householder’s generosity as he engages laborers at varying hours during the day. Could it be that the householder has a compassionate concern for the unemployed and their families as opposed to actually needing them for the harvest? The question is open-ended.

The workers who were hired first appeal to common sense, equitable treatment, logic, and reason. Their complaint is not necessarily that the last hired received a payment, but that if the householder was so generous with the last, then certainly he might provide them with a “bonus” for having endured the heat of the whole day. Some interpreters have attempted to minimize this breach of fairness by explaining that perhaps the quality of work done by the late-comers during the last hour was equivalent to the work done the entire day by the others. Certain others use the rationale that a contract is indeed a contract, and therefore the laborers hired at the beginning of the day have no reason whatsoever to argue about the wages due to them. The fact of the matter is that from the purely human, logical point of view, they had reason to complain. However, this parable is not about ethical and fair labor management, but rather about the radical nature of God’s generosity, compassion, and the in-breaking Kingdom.

The radical moment of the parable (as indicated by 19:30 and 20:16) is noted in 20:8-9 as those who were employed not only receive payment in reverse order, but also receive equal payment for their efforts! The parable reaches its crescendo in verse 15 with the question: “Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?” The owner of the vineyard reserves the right to pay his employees not on the basis of their own merits but rather on the basis of his own compassion.

Generosity condemned as injustice

In today’s parable, why should such generosity be condemned as injustice? This idea finds its roots and deepest meaning in the Old Testament understanding of God the Creator who is good and generous to all who turn to him. This is the God in whom Jesus believed and lived, but in the person of Jesus, the divine compassion, mercy, and goodness surpass the divine justice. Therefore all who follow Jesus as his disciples and friends much imitate this extraordinary compassion and lavish generosity and never question, deny, or begrudge it.

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ reveals his identity to us in today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We are like the eleventh-hour workers

Perhaps many of us feel strongly with the disgruntled workers of verse 12. How often have we known whimsical employers who have compensated lazy or problematic workers far too generously, rather than acknowledging the faithful, dedicated, day-in day-out workers. We may ask ourselves: How can God be so unfair? How can God overlook his most faithful workers? Underneath this parable is the issue of bargaining with God. From the very beginnings of religion it has been assumed that we mortals can bargain with the gods to obtain from them what we want.

How many times have we experienced this in our belonging to and service in the Church? Some may grumble and claim that their long, dedicated, tireless service qualifies them instantly for higher pay, higher rank, and greater privilege and prestige. imagesCA9XSME4It is precisely at moments like this that we must humbly acknowledge that we are like those eleventh-hour workers. Not one of us deserves the blessings that God has prepared for us. Our grumbling and lateral gazing often leads to serious resentments that are hard to shake off. All our good works give us no claim upon God. How much less do we have the right to demand, even if we have done everything we ought to do, that we should be honored and rewarded by God in a special manner as if we were such meritorious, indispensable persons in his service? The word “entitlement” does not exist in the vocabulary of the Kingdom of God.

The only remedy to such sentiments is to look upon the merciful face of Jesus and thus recognize God’s lavish generosity in the flesh. Human logic is limited, but the mercy and grace of God know no limits or boundaries. God doesn’t act by our standards. This means that we must see and accept God in our sister and brother, just as God has wished them to be. When God chooses a person, granting him/her particular graces, blessings, or gifts, God does not reject the other person nor deprive him/her of his grace. God’s graces and blessings are boundless, and each person receives his or her own share. God’s choice of a person or people should not be a cause of pride for those chosen, or of rejection for those not chosen. It is only when both parties live in humility and simplicity, and recognize together a God of love and mercy at work in their lives that they will begin to learn the real meaning of love and justice, and finally come to reconciliation and deep, mutual understanding.

For your reflection

In the New Testament, Jesus teaches us that we must overcome jealousy and envy. This is brought out in today’s parable of the laborers who come to work at different times of the day, but receive the same salary nevertheless. Those who came at the first hour grumbled against the landowner. “He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you… Are you envious because I am generous?’” (Matthew 20:13-15)

Consider these two sections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2552-2553):

The tenth commandment forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power.

Envy is sadness at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate desire to have them for oneself. It is a capital sin.

Envy is that fault in the human character that cannot recognize the beauty and uniqueness of the other, and denies them honour. In order to approach God, who is total goodness, beauty, and generosity, this attitude must be broken from within. Envy can no longer see. Our eyes remain nailed shut. Envy and avarice are sins against the tenth commandment. What can we do to move beyond this blindness and hardness of heart?

Caritas in Veritate

In light of today’s Gospel about compensation, I offer you section #63 of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate “On Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth”:

No consideration of the problems associated with development could fail to highlight the direct link between poverty and unemployment. In many cases, poverty results from a violation of the dignity of human work, either because work opportunities are limited (through unemployment or underemployment), or “because a low value is put on work and the rights that flow from it, especially the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family.” For this reason, on 1 May 2000 on the occasion of the Jubilee of Workers, my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II issued an appeal for “a global coalition in favour of ‘decent work,’” supporting the strategy of the International Labour Organization. In this way, he gave a strong moral impetus to this objective, seeing it as an aspiration of families in every country of the world. What is meant by the word “decent” in regard to work? It means work that expresses the essential dignity of every man and woman in the context of their particular society: work that is freely chosen, effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the development of their community; work that enables the worker to be respected and free from any form of discrimination; work that makes it possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for their children, without the children themselves being forced into labour; work that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their voices heard; work that leaves enough room for rediscovering one’s roots at a personal, familial and spiritual level; work that guarantees those who have retired a decent standard of living.

[The readings for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time are: Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16.]

 

BRINGING HOME THE WORD 

(A publication of Franciscan Media) Reflections on God’s Word for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Click the link below:

353102-BHW0914DN_selected-pages (1)

bhwmasthead_thumbnail