Father’s Weekly Message

Fr. Bob Writes – August 2018

It is not unusual that a person pass through times of trials with sacrifice and deprivation to get to where they want to go on their life journey.  Sometimes these trials are the result of having chosen to follow unhealthy pathways of life such as people addicted to drugs and alcohol who must go through treatment and withdrawal if they want to be free.  People escaping from persecution and violence must often leave their homes and almost all possessions behind, suffer privation and walk great distances to get to a refugee camp.

The situation of the Israelites in our first reading, escaping from Egypt, was similar.  They were not exactly in danger of dying from hunger, as they said, since they still had their sheep and cattle.  Some livestock was probably dying from lack of good water and pasture in the desert, but the animals were their most valuable possession and source of income.  They did not want to slaughter any for food.  This indicates their reluctance to put their trust and their future completely in God’s hands.  Rather than grumble back, God understands and promises to give them manna and quail even before Moses can ask.  Receiving the manna six days a week will relieve the people’s anxiety and heighten their reliance on God to provide for them.  God says that this will be a “test” for the people, but what God is testing is not completely clear.  It may be a test of their finding security in God or accepting deprivation for the time with hope in God’s providential guidance to a better future.

What things or circumstances are we relying on for our ultimate security rather than on God?

Fr Bob Writes – July 8, 2018

In our gospel this Sunday, we are told that the people were “astonished” by Jesus. This gives us great insight into how Jesus the child and young man related to his neighbours as he was growing up. He apparently didn’t work miracles, breathe life into clay birds to impress friends or strike an entire group of hostile men blind (as some fanciful accounts tell it) or surpass all other children in town with his intelligence and spirituality. Their query “Where did this man get all this ?” indicates that Jesus hadn’t impressed them as someone out of the norm. On the contrary, they may have considered him a bit lower than others, thinking him to have been conceived in sin to parents who didn’t wait until after the wedding. The crowd’s astonishment was not one of being impressed so much as being bewildered by Jesus’ preaching and power.
So Jesus could not work many miracles in his home town of Nazareth, due to their lack of faith. This is probably why Jesus chose Capernaum, rather than Nazareth, to be his ministry base whilst he was in Galilee. Jesus told the woman in last week’s gospel “Your faith has saved you,” a phrase he repeats in other healings.  While Jesus has the power, our faith opens the door to let Jesus go to work in us. Our lack of faith, conversely, creates a block to that same power.  “Lord, I do believe, help my lack of faith”

Fr Bob Writes – June 17, 2018

Fr Bob writes: Pope John XXIII, it is said, was having a restless night shortly after being elected pope. The concerns of the church and decisions to be made were pressing upon him. And so he turned fitfully from side to side. Finally he verbalized his sentiments. “Listen, Lord, this church is yours, not mine. I’m going to sleep.” And, as he said, he fell quickly asleep.

We all have moments when we wonder if it is all worth it. In a single lifetime, we have all met people who were deeply upset because the church veered too far to the left and then those who were equally disturbed when it went to the right. The church is ultimately Christ’s, as today’s liturgy teaches clearly, and he will see it through the storm. The early Christians also had trying times. They saw some of their earliest enthusiasts fall away in the course of time. Others started well but soon got detoured. It is enough to read the parable of the sower and the seed that fell along the path. Things were not all encouraging but Christianity survived.

The church is stronger than all the people who try to make it or unmake it, because it is in God’s hands, and God is at the helm. Yes, the church has its share of humanness. But with all its warts, it is still a beacon and a great source of strength. And how often things turn out better than we thought. Just when we felt that walls were crashing down around us, the lay people in the church emerged with a vitality and sense of ownership not previously imagined. Even while we sleep, God’s reign is growing, as our gospel parable today reminds us. And so we do not lose heart.

Fr Bob Writes – June 10, 2018

One of the major differences between the Bible and modern society is that the Bible takes evil seriously. Biblical faith sees evil as an independent force in conflict with the interests of God. It makes its appearance in Genesis and continues through to the book of Revelation. A low point in Jesus’ ministry occurs with this Sunday’s gospel reading, when his opponents accused him of being an instrument of Satan. Their reason probably rested on his willingness to bypass Jewish law on many occasions in the interests of his mission. It is clear from Jesus’ speech, as well as that of his enemies, that evil was so real that one stood on one side or the other, with Christ or with the evil one. There is room for discussion about the nature of evil. But to say that it is simply a human construct flies in the face of biblical teaching.

Evil is yet to be finally vanquished. What Christ accomplished is still to be actualized in our lives. Evil is overcome by those who are brothers and sisters of Jesus, those who take his word to heart and live it. Evil exists. Its emergence in modern times in the form of the holocaust and Rwanda massacres, and Isis atrocities , among others,  speaks for itself. But it comes in many lesser forms. To do battle with evil is to live the Christian message each day. Conversions are just as real as is evil. Christ is still binding the strong man. A good beginning is to acknowledge evil, then take issue with it.  The battle lines are clearly drawn, but the resources are there as well. It is the force of good that overcomes evil.

 

Fr Bob Writes – June 3 – Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

—From the Catechism of the Catholic Church-

THE SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST

1322 The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.

1323 “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'”133

  1. The Eucharist – Source and Summit of Ecclesial Life

1324 The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”134 “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”135

1325 “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.”136

1326 Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.137

1327 In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.”138

Fr. Bob Writes – May 27, 2018

Fr. Bob Writes: The Trinity—From the Catechism of the Catholic Church-

  1. “IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT”…………

232 Christians are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”53 Before receiving the sacrament, they respond to a three-part question when asked to confess the Father, the Son and the Spirit: “I do.” “The faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity.”54

233 Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names,55 for there is only one God, the almighty Father, his only Son and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity.

234 The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith”.56 The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin”.57

235 This paragraph expounds briefly (I) how the mystery of the Blessed Trinity was revealed, (II) how the Church has articulated the doctrine of the faith regarding this mystery, and (III) how, by the divine missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit, God the Father fulfils the “plan of his loving goodness” of creation, redemption and sanctification.

236 The Fathers of the Church distinguish between theology (theologia) and economy (oikonomia). “Theology” refers to the mystery of God’s inmost life within the Blessed Trinity and “economy” to all the works by which God reveals himself and communicates his life. Through the oikonomia the theologia is revealed to us; but conversely, the theologia illuminates the whole oikonomia. God’s works reveal who he is in himself; the mystery of his inmost being enlightens our understanding of all his works. So it is, analogously, among human persons. A person dis-closes himself in his actions, and the better we know a person, the better we understand his actions.

237 The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the “mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God”.58 To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

 

Fr Bob Writes – Pentecost

The readings of Pentecost are full of new life. This is truly a birthday. Without Pentecost, Christ’s work would have been incomplete. His death may have proved his love for us, but it would not of itself improve our lot. We would be able to admire him at a distance.  But there would be no effective following of him, nor the right to call Christ “brother,‘ or God ‘Abba.‘  It is the Spirit of Pentecost that makes all of that possible. But today’s celebration is not just personal; it is communal as well. Today the church was launched on its mission. It celebrates two millennia of life. And the church is the mother who accompanies us from the cradle to the grave.

Unity and diversity – both are so pronounced in today’s readings. In the Acts of the Apostles, there is a clear foretelling that an open door policy will be followed. The church is open to all people. There are to be no distinctions of race, gender, nationality or social status. We find our unity in one Lord one faith and one baptism. But unity does not mean a measured marching to the same tune. There are many ways in which life is lived and service is rendered in the church. We have diverse liturgical expressions in the church, different approaches to theology, different forms of government. All of this goes hand in hand with a unity in faith. Conformity is not necessarily a virtue. The Spirit breathes where and as it wills. Pentecost reminds us of that.