Parish Mission with Fr Francis Donnelly – Dec. 4, 5 & 6

Mark your calendars for our Advent Mission!

Join Fr Bob and Fr. Francis Donnelly for an opportunity to prepare your heart for the coming of the Christ child.  Monday and Wednesday at St Philip (7pm), Tuesday at St Clare (7 pm).  Wednesday will be an evening with reconciliation.  Please join us and bring a friend!  This is a beautiful way to prepare our hearts for Christmas.

Fr Bob Writes – December 3, 2017

Fr Bob writes: Another Advent season opens this weekend.  As usual, the focus for us as Christians should not be celebrating Christ’s first coming as a child 2000 years ago, but his second coming “at a time you do not know or expect.” (Mark 13:33)

When will the Second Coming of Jesus take place?  As the apostles continued staring up to the skies following Jesus’ ascension, angels appeared and told them, “This Jesus who has been taken up from you will return in the same way as you have seen him going up to heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

Early Christians believed Jesus’ return would take place within a few years, if not months. That’s why those who joined the first Christian community at Jerusalem sold what they had and put their money in the common pot.  They felt sure that Jesus would return before the money ran out. The passing time was a challenge both to their financial situation and their faith.  If Jesus wasn’t returning, something which the early preaching had led them to believe, how true were the other things they had been taught about him?

That is why Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus who sold a piece of property and put the whole amount in the pot was given the nickname “Barnabas,” meaning “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36-7).  Paul took up a collection for that community during his missionary journeys.  He wanted to support the faith of the Jerusalem community in the return of Jesus.  John Mark wrote his gospel, the first of the four to be written, as a member of Peter’s missionary team.  The teaching of the return of Jesus undoubtedly was part of Peter’s preaching of the message of Jesus Christ.

Twenty-some years after the ascension, however, Christian leaders were wrestling with Jesus’ “delay.”  They thought back to any indications Jesus may have given them.  What they recalled was included in passages such as today’s gospel selection.  We don’t know when Jesus will return, so keep alert, on watch and ready at all times.

Happy Advent!!

Fr Bob Writes – Nov 26, 2017 – Feast of Christ, Universal King

On the news this last week, we saw yet another coup in Africa, this time in Zimbabwe.  We saw President Mugabe still remain nominally head of the country, but in effect, the real power was in the hands of the army.  Mugabe reigned, but did not govern.

This weekend we celebrate the feast of Jesus Christ, Universal King.  In reality, for many Catholics, Jesus may be honored as Lord and King, but the truth is he does not hold Lordship over their lives.  They still govern their own lives, make their own decisions, and, while going to Mass to give him objective worship, for the rest of the week, they pay no more attention to him, than they do to the Queen of England.  She is Head of Canada, but effectively she does not govern.  Jesus reigns in our lives, but he does not govern.

Many of us Catholics have Jesus on our lips, but ourselves on the throne of our hearts.  When was the last time that we sought his guidance for major decisions in our lives?  At the wedding feast of Cana, Mary told the servants “Do whatever he tells you.”  That should still be the benchmark for our lives, that we would “do whatever he tells us.”  But how many of us take the time to go into the quiet place of prayer, to seek his guidance for our lives?

As we gather to celebrate the feast which closes off the church’s year, how many of us are willing to carry out a coup – remove self from the throne of our hearts, and install Christ there instead?

Fr. Bob Writes – November 19, 2017

Fr Bob writes: “When one finds a worthy wife, her value is beyond pearls…” (Proverbs 31:10)

The author, or better said, the compiler of the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament began by stating the purpose of the work: “that people may appreciate wisdom and discipline, understand words of intelligence, receive training in wise conduct (in what is right, just and honest), that resourcefulness be imparted to the simple, and knowledge and discretion to the young man, a wise man advance in learning, and an intelligence man gain sound guidance.”  The study of wisdom, the artful discussion of the details of God’s word, the education in the ways of wisdom were the work of Jewish men carried out in synagogues, town squares and in their homes. Women did not play a part in these discussions. All the students in synagogue schools were boys, no girls.

The compiler of Proverbs chose to end his work with two sections focused on the wisdom of women. 31:1-9 are words of advice from a mother to her son who was a king. 31:10-31, which make up our first reading this Sunday at Mass, tell of the ideal wife and mother whose life, not just her words, shows how to live wisely.  Girls learned from their mothers and grandmothers. The influence of a wife on her husband, even in a male-dominated culture, should not be underestimated… much less the influence of a mother on both daughters and sons.  Ending his work with these reflections on the wisdom of women reflects on the wisdom of the compiler who, in doing so, reminds the reader to learn wisdom, not just in the male-dominated debates in synagogues and classes at school, but from the living examples of wives, moms and grandmas right there at home.

(thanks to Fr Denny Dempsey for his insights into our first reading this Sunday)

Fr Bob Writes – November 12, 2017

 “so that you do not grieve like the rest who have no hope ” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

The grief of those who have no hope is that of those who do not believe in life after death.  Belief in Jesus’ resurrection is the basis for our hope.

Trying to figure out when and how Jesus would return was an important topic of conversation among the early Christian communities reflected here in this text from our second reading this Sunday.  It also seems to be a concern for many evangelical Christians even today.

St Paul seems to have been of the opinion that the Second Coming would occur before all of his readers would physically die, thus his referring in our second reading , to “we who are alive.”  The image of the living, or a select group of the living, being raised up to heaven is often referred to as the “Rapture.”  Sacred Scripture gives no basis for a belief in some being taken up to heaven before the return of Christ, and some being “left behind.”  The Catholic Church has no teaching using the ideas of a “Rapture” before the return of Christ.  What we believe is expressed in the Creed, that Jesus will return and that those who physically died as well as those still living will be raised with some manner of a final judgment.

Although we believe in the Second Coming, we don’t know when Jesus will return.  After so many centuries have passed since the resurrection of Jesus, determining when Jesus will return is not a major issue for Catholics as it is for some Christian groups.  It is hard to understand how significant this question was for Christians in the first century.  But in our day and age, when it is not even a question for most people,  we have to hold onto our belief that Christ will return at some point in time to bring the world to judgement.  How ready are we for this moment?