Fr Bob Writes – October 30, 2017

As the Year of Mercy begins to wind down, the readings of this Sunday remind us once again that, in God, we have Someone who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness ” (Exodus 34:6).

The encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus, chief tax collector for the city of Jericho, in today’s gospel, exemplifies Jesus’ heart of mercy towards the despised and rejected of society.  Chief tax collectors for a city or region contracted with the Roman government.  They bid for the job taking into account how much they needed to collect to cover their bid, hire a staff of assistants, grease the palm of some public officials, and guarantee a good return on investment for themselves.  Zacchaeus was a shrewd businessman and had become one of the wealthiest men in the Jericho area.

Nevertheless, his wealth wasn’t bringing him happiness.  With all the travelers passing through, Jericho was always current with the latest news which certainly included commentary on what Jesus was doing and saying up in Galilee.  Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus.  It was more than curiosity that motivated him to climb that tree.  His choice to become a tax collector had made him unwelcome at the local synagogue.  At that time, he likely thought he would have such a good life with all the money he would make, that giving up the contact with fellow Jews would be worth it.  Although he was a non-practising Jew, he was, however, still a believer.  No matter how much money he made, the happiness he had hoped to experience eluded him.  He may have felt caught, that there was no going back on the decisions he had made…that was, until Jesus came to town.

How has your encounter with Jesus changed the way you used to see your life and its future?

Fr Bob Writes – October 23, 2016

Next weekend, Fr Ben St Croix will be holding a “charism school” at St Philip’s.

What are “charisms?”  They are gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Everyone has them. St Paul writes in, 1 Corinthians 12:4:  “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

In Romans 12: 6, St Paul adds “We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.”  No one person, not even the priest (!) has all the gifts of the Spirit.  So in order to work for the common good of all, we all have to bring to the table and use them for the “varieties of services” that God calls us to do.  It requires us to “activate” those gifts, or charisms, that the Spirit has placed within us.  We should exercise ministry in the church and in the world according to the particular gifts we have.

The trouble often is that many of us don’t know what our gifts are.  Some of us think we don’t have any worthwhile gifts at all.  That is why we need the charism school that Fr Ben is putting on next weekend.  The school will lead us to discern what our gifts are, and how to use them in a ministry which gives joy to us and serves the “common good.”

The school begins at St Philip’s church at 7.30pm on Friday October 28th, through to 9.30 pm, then it continues on Saturday October 29th from 9.30 am  through to 3.30pm. (Brown-bag for lunch).

I urge you with all my heart to come and take part in Fr Ben’s charism school!!

Father Bob Writes – October 16, 2016

Fr Bob writes: With first communion and confirmation enrolments taking place in the next few weeks, I thought I would pass on the following story:

“The Presbyterian Church called a meeting to decide what to do about their squirrel problem.

After much prayer and consideration, they determined the squirrels were predestined to be there and they shouldn’t interfere with God’s divine will.

At the Baptist Church, the squirrels had taken an interest in the baptistery. The Elders met and decided to put a water slide on the baptistery and let the squirrels drown themselves. The squirrels liked the slide and unfortunately, knew instinctively how to swim, so twice as many squirrels showed up the following week.

The Episcopal Church decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God’s creatures. So, they humanely trapped their squirrels and set them free near the Baptist Church. Two weeks later, the squirrels were back when the Baptists took down the water slide.

But the Catholic Church came up with a very creative strategy. They baptized all the squirrels and confirmed them. Now they only see them at Christmas and Easter!

Not much was heard from the Jewish Synagogue. But it’s rumoured that they took one squirrel and circumcised him. They haven’t seen a squirrel on their property since.”

Parents of children making their first communion and confirmation this coming year, please don’t let your children become like the squirrels at the Catholic Church!!