Today was the final day of school before the Thanksgiving break, it is also the first ever feast day of Blessed Clelia Merloni. In my homily to the students, I attempted to combine both of these celebrations,
I’ve finally figured out a way to be able to record not just my daily Mass homilies, but also Sunday homilies.
This weekend I look at three nuances in the Gospel reading that tell us a little bit more about our responsibilities as disciples and our experience of blindness.
Recently we had a young woman in our parish take her own life, this morning in a Mass for our middle school students, I attempted to address the related topics of depression and bullying. Encouraging our students to get the help they need and be supportive of one another.
My homily yesterday reminding us that faith is a gift from God, one which parents can help to transmit through Baptism.
My homily for the students of our school, encouraging them to act cooperatively on the playground, in the classroom, and at home.
The first class is Monday October 15, at 6:30 P.M. in Kertz hall at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Jefferson City. The class is open to all adults.
The first week’s topic: Faith & Reason
Every week on Wednesday (this time on Monday) I hope to write a short post such as this introducing the topic and providing a .pdf with some readings to look at in advance if you are so inclined. It is by no means necessary to read the packet before the class. If you do have a chance to read it, please come ready with questions. If you can’t make it a given week, or you want to browse through other topics they all we available at this hub.
Faith & Reason: Reading Packet
Each of these packets will contain excerpts from various Church documents. Most of them should be available in their entirety at the Vatican’s web site: www.vatican.va
This week’s excerpts come from the following documents:
- Sacred Scripture (the Bible)
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Vatican I, Dei Filius (1870)
- Vatican II, Dei Verbum (1965)
- St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio (1998)
- Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei (2013)
Lastly a few quick housekeeping notes as they are questions I’ve been asked a lot:
- The class is FREE
- You DO NOT need to register (though there will be chance to sign up for e-mails)
- Catholic teachers of any Catholic school in the Diocese of Jefferson City who are Level III Catechists can count these hours towards their ongoing formation. (There will be a special sign-in form for you to sign)
- Permanent deacons of the diocese can likewise count these towards ongoing formation.
See you on Monday!
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.
St. Therese was just 24 years old when she died, yet we all adore and admire her profound writings. For this reason we shouldn’t dismiss the younger generation wholesale. It is good that this month Pope Francis is convening the Synod on “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.” More importantly in March he hosted the Pre-Synod gathering with young people gathered from around the world.
My homily for middle school students examining different “places” in their lives where they can shake the dust off their feet. From texting and social media, to the lunchroom.
If we look at the last three weeks of Gospel readings we see an unfolding pattern that is all to familiar to us. Two weeks ago, there was the fun part, the miracle. Last week, we heard of Peter’s pop quiz, in which he passed the multiple choice, but failed the short answer. This week is the moment when the results from the ACT, SAT or some other standardized test come in, we all begin comparing our scores with others. We want to see who is the greatest. Just like the Apostles in today’s gospel, arguing about who is the greatest.
As American’s being competitive is somehow built into our culture, our ethos, our psyche. We’re competitive when it comes to academics. Not just the tests, but we speak to our seniors who are applying to colleges right now about getting into a, “competitive” college. We are competitive in the workplace, always seeking to out perform our peers so that we can rise up the proverbial ladder of success. And of course we are competitive when it comes to our sports. “You play to win the game!” We, as Americans, love competition.
There is one place however, where competition doesn’t belong. Right here. In Church. Today Jesus rebukes the Apostles for arguing amongst each other as to who was the greatest. Our faith isn’t meant to be a competitive faith. It’s not about how many Rosaries you say a day, how often you go to confession, how many theology books you’ve read, or how many verses of the Bible you’ve memorized. Nor is it about how many service hours you’ve logged or what committees you serve on in the parish. We should want to do all those things because we are called to holiness. All of us. But we shouldn’t do those things so we can compare ourselves with the person sitting next to us in the pew so that we can say we are better than them. We do all of those things because they draw us into a deeper relationship with Christ, with God. We need a relationship with God, not a competitive faith.
The problem is that we are so indoctrinated in such a competitive culture, when we see it missing, we freak out. Think about last year when Carson Wentz, the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles got hurt. When his backup, Nick Foles did well, everyone was astonished when they were supportive of each other. People were flabbergasted, analysts freaking out on television because they should hate each other, they should be in competition with one another. What did they do? They went on win the Super Bowl. They even beat Tom Brady!
But for us in the Church, we shouldn’t be so surprised at the lack of competition amongst us. Rather, we should be seeking to avoid a competitive faith, which risks ripping, our team, our community, the Church apart.
Thankfully Jesus gives us a clue in the Gospel today. His response to the Apostles who were competitively quarreling about who was the greatest, was to point to the child and say, “he who receives this child…” The verb there is to receive. We need a receiving faith instead of a competitive faith.
What does this mean? It means that instead of being in competition with others for how great our faith is compared with others, we should be seeking to receive, to welcome others into our community. That if we believe our faith is that great, we should want to share it with others, not keep it to ourselves so we can show off and proclaim ourselves the greatest.
If we are gathered here at this altar because we recognize the great things God has done in our lives, the power of his grace, his immense mercy and love for us, shouldn’t we want to share that with others instead of using it to create another competition?
This past week I met up with a friend from college who is now a Dominican brother. He and I both lived very full and eclectic lives, each with friends from a variety of backgrounds. I remember one time we were on a mission trip and we were praying and he said to me, “I just want my friends to experience the same feeling of God’s great love for me. It’s not about forcing my faith on them, it’s about wanting them to have the same feeling of being loved by God, knowing his mercy, joy and peace.” That is a receiving faith. That’s the kind of faith we ought to seek after.
We might still be competitive in the classroom, in the office, or on the ball field. But here in this place, in this community, we should not follow the example of the Apostles in the Gospel, but rather the words of Jesus. We should develop not a competitive faith, but rather a receiving faith.
A very brief reflection on the relationship between our free will as human beings and God’s will in our life.