Fr Bob Writes – September 28, 2014

Who is a true son/daughter of the Father? The one who ultimately does the Father’s will. In our gospel today, the first son rebels initially against the will of his father, but eventually, changes his mind and accepts his will. The second son initially gives verbal assent to what his father wants, but eventually, he discards it and does what he himself wants to do.

The first son represents those who are initially defiant against God and vigorously assert their independence of Him. Many of us, myself included, have been there at one point in our lives. But at some point, we come to a place of conversion, when we realize that our decisions and choices have been bad ones, and brought us, and others in our lives, a tremendous amount of grief. We turn back to God, have our sins forgiven, and begin to live out a life of faithful obedience to Him.

The second son represents those who, to all intents and purposes, keep a superficial allegiance to God, going to Mass, saying their prayers, following dutifully the Catholic way. But in reality, they are deeply opposed to God’s will, hold onto deep grudges against others, indulge in selfishness and self-indulgence, are harshly judgemental of others who are different from them. From a position of self-righteous Pharisaism, they think they are justified in their attitudes, but in the end they find themselves outside the kingdom of heaven.

Which mentality best fits where you are at?

Fr Bob Writes – September 21, 2014

When I was living in England, there was a town in Northern London, called Kilburn, that had a very large Irish population, many of whom had come over to England to look for work. Every morning, young men would come to the town centre, and employers would drive up, select some of them for work and leave the rest.

Something similar would happen in Israel during the time of Jesus. Rising early each day, men would go to the city square to wait for someone to come by looking for workers. During times of planting and harvesting, there was plenty of work. Many a day passed, however, when no work was available, especially if you were not fit and strong and young. I am sure, many of those who heard Jesus’ parable in today’s gospel, were themselves common laborers who spent many a day in the town square waiting for employment.

At face value, this parable seems to be a good example of unjust labour practices with the early workers being locked into a contract at a far lower hourly wage than those who came later in the day. Each, regardless of how many hours they had worked, received the same wage. Those who hearing Jesus would have understood that entry into the eternal kingdom of heaven was the “wage” that all who were one with God at the end of their earthly life will receive through the grace of God. You can’t receive two or more gifts of eternal life. As with the man crucified on the cross next to Jesus (Luke 23:42-43), some may come under the grace of God in the final hours of their life while others may serve the Lord for their entire life.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways,” says God in our first reading. The parable is not showing us a lack of “justice” on God’s part, but an abundance of His “mercy” instead. God will wait until the last possible moment to bring people into his eternal kingdom.

St. Philip PFC Meeting Agenda for September 16, 2014

Now that the summer season is over and another pastoral year is here, the St. Philip Parish Finance Council (“PFC”) will resume its monthly meetings. The September meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 16, 2014.  In keeping with the PFC’s desire for transparency and accountability to the parish community and to inform it of the issues the PFC deals with, a copy of the meeting agenda can be obtained by clicking here.

While the PFC does not make public its meeting minutes by publishing them to the parish website, parishioners wishing more information on any of the items raised in the meeting can contact either Fr. Bob or Pat McIver, PFC Chairperson.

Fr Bob Writes – Sept 14, 2014

This weekend, the Church celebrates the feast of: The Exaltation of the Holy Cross.” It is unusual for anything to interrupt the normal rhythm of “Ordinary Sundays” during the Church year, unless it is a feast of major importance to the history of salvation. Our feast this Sunday surely fits this criteria.

St Louis Marie de Montfort was fond of saying “No cross without Christ/No Christ without the cross.” To make that plain, you cannot go into a Catholic Church anywhere in the world without seeing a depiction of Jesus on the cross, sometimes as crucified, sometimes as resurrected and glorified, but always together. This is not meant to be a depressing image, but a sobering one, in which we are called to remember how far Jesus was prepared to go to bring us back to God, atoning for our sins by his death on the cross.

The gospel this Sunday reminds us, in those very familiar words of Jesus to Nicodemus, that “God so loved the world, that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” The very citation of that verse, John 3:16, has become a familiar sight at sports events around the world. I’m not sure how many people, seeing that citation, would automatically understand what it refers to, but at the very least, it will probably stimulate enough curiosity in them to ask around, until it is explained to them. (I recently crossed over from Canada to America in my car, and the border guard was sufficiently intrigued by my number plate – Jn 3:5 – to ask what it meant. I told him it stood for “John 3:5-“No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Holy Spirit”- a bit of surreptitious evangelizing, I guess!!”

It is sad to see young people wearing a cross as just another part of their jewellery, and not giving a thought to what they are carrying . (One girl I heard of went into a jewellery shop and asked for a silver cross “with a little man on it”!!). But at least, the symbol of the cross is being kept before our eyes, and we should never lose an opportunity to explain its significance to others, so that they come to hear the good news of how much God has loved us, and how far he has gone to save us.

“At the cross, mankind’s greatest “NO” to God, became God’s greatest “YES” to mankind “.