Father’s Weekly Message

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.

 

Fr Bob Writes – May 13, 2018

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Ascension. The ascension brings the mission of Jesus to a close. It gives us a bit of respite, the chance to look back and reflect before moving ahead. How often, after the death of someone loved and admired, we are renewed in reviewing his or her life. So too the disciples in prayer had their moment of silent reflection. But Jesus, true to form, moves our attention forward as well. We are not to spend excessive time gazing heavenward. He will not leave us orphans. And so he reminds us, as we reflect on his life and teaching, to prepare ourselves for the next phase of God’s interaction with the world. This is the meaning of Jesus’ refusal to answer directly the question of the disciples in today’s first reading about when he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. He tells them not to focus on such questions, but to concentrate on their mission, which will begin when they are clothed in the power of the Holy Spirit, to preach the gospel to all nations. And the two men in white, who appear to the apostles at the end of the first reading, tell them not to waste time staring into the sky. Jesus WILL be returning at some point in time, but for now we have work to do for the kingdom of God.

Pentecost is on the horizon. Memory and hope are two vital features of the religious experience- a leavetaking with a promise.

Fr Bob Writes – May 6, 2018

In today’s second reading and gospel, you will hear the word “love” a total of eighteen times! Not for nothing is St John called “the Apostle of Love!”

In the gospel, Jesus “commands” us to love.  You can’t command emotions and attractions, but agape love is based not on emotions but is rather a conscious wilful choice to do good for God and others.  In its perfection it is selfless, yet it bears the fruit of joy for the one so loving.  We often go after joy and happiness as our goal…Jesus would have us know that the greatest joy and happiness do not come from seeking them directly but as by-products of seeking to do good, to make a positive difference, to see others blessed as a result of our efforts.

In the gospel today, Jesus calls us “friends” rather than slaves or servants.  In the Old Testament, Moses, Joshua and David were called slaves or servants of God.  Only Abraham was called God’s friend.  The language gets a bit challenging here, for obedience to commands seems more appropriate in a servant-master relationship than a friendship.  If we are going to strive to be like God, however, we are invited into an intimate relationship and made co-workers, not just servants, in the mission.

Who chose who?  We do make a choice to follow Jesus, but the image of being chosen by God reminds us that we are invited into a plan bigger than of our own making.  Imagine football, baseball or basketball players being chosen in the draft.  Before choosing a player, a team has an idea of what position that person will play and how he or she will best fit into the overall plan for the team.  I believe that God has a specific role for each of us to play in his eternal plan.  The more accurately you and I discern our roles in God’s great plan and strive to live according to that plan, the more God can accomplish through us…and the more we will be filled with the side blessing benefits of greater satisfaction, joy, happiness, and peace in our lives.

Fr Bob Writes – April 29, 2018

“I am the vine, you are the branches…”   So runs the familiar allegory of Jesus which we find in our gospel this weekend. Grape vines are pruned to keep them at a manageable size, to direct the energy of the vine into producing fruit instead of stems and leaves, and to keep the fruit growing close to the main stem so the sap doesn’t have to travel far to produce fruit. Pruning lets in sunshine, essential for the grapes to fully ripen since unlike most other types of fruit, grapes do not continue to ripen after being picked.  Pruning is a real art both in knowing when to prune and how to do so most effectively to maximize productivity.

This extended metaphor of Jesus in our gospel passage has four allegorical components: the vine grower (the Father), the vine (Jesus), the branch (the disciple), and the fruit (commandment observance).  In the vine and the branches, the relationship between Jesus and the believer is expressed in terms even more intimate and personal than in the image of the shepherd and his sheep, which we heard about in last Sunday’s gospel.  It is the language of the indwelling, “the remaining, or abiding, together” in friendship, that here comes to the fore in characterizing the bond between Jesus and his followers. It is this “abiding” of the believer in Jesus that is productive of good.  Failure to produce fruit results in a severance of the branch, i.e. an end time separation from Christ by the intervention of the Father  through pruning; on the other hand, the true believers are strengthened. Just as the Father is glorified by the obedient death of his Son, so also does the virtuous life of the disciple give glory to God.

People in Jesus’ time would have easily grasped the images of abiding, remaining connected to Jesus the vine, allowing God to trim away whatever in our lives does not produce, and the importance of being fruitful for God. Are you willing to allow God to do the necessary pruning in your life so as to allow you to bear more fruit to the glory of God?