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Fr Bob Writes – August 31 and September 7, 2014

Fr Denny Dempsey comments on today`s Gospel:

In last week`s gospel, Peter proclaims Jesus as the Messiah, not as the result of his mental acuity but as a result of his seeking God`s guidance. That was what Jesus wanted most in the person to whom, more than anyone else, he would entrust his mission. Yet Peter had his moments when he neglected to seek God`s plan and trusted in his own human logic. Such was the case in this scene as Peter tries to tell Jesus how his mission should unfold. Jesus, sharing our human nature, would have liked the easier way out. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane he will pray that the cup be taken away if possible. Being the Messiah without the suffering and death was truly a temptation for him at this moment as it had been back in the days in the desert following his baptism. Satan had spoken directly with him at that time. Now the voice was that of his friend. Imagine the strength of the temptation for Jesus to call his friend a Satan and the pain in well-intentioned Peter on hearing those words directed at him. Yet such are we for one another when we give advice based on mere human logic rather than on discernment of God`s will.

 

Statements Regarding Violence in Iraq – Pope Francis, Cardinal Collins and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue

Vatican News August 7, 2014 carries a statement in English about the concerns of the Holy Father over the violence raging in Iraq, and especially for the Christians affected there by violence. The news article, from Vatican Radio, is posted at http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-appeal-for-iraqi-christians.

Follow this link for this August 7, 2014 statement issued by His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, on the situation of Christians in Iraq who are being persecuted. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/canada-can-do-more-to-help-christians-under-seige-in-iraq/article19946663/.

 

How can we respond to the situation in the Middle East? – from Msgr. Patrick Powers from the CCCB.

All of us, together with Pope Francis, are following with deep concern the dramatic news reports coming from Iraq, Gaza and Syria. Defenseless populations,  including our  Christian brothers and sisters, flee from their homes, in urgent need for protection, food, shelter and medical assistance. In solidarity with their sufferings, and in communion with the whole Church, let us, in the words of the Holy Father, “raise up with one voice a ceaseless prayer, imploring the Holy Spirit to send the gift of peace” to the Middle East.

Each parish in our diocese is invited for the coming weeks to include in the prayers of the faithful the following intention: That the Holy Spirit inspire Canadians and the international community to protect all those affected or threatened by violence in the Middle East, to be with them in solidarity and concern, and to offer them assistance and aid.

You are also encouraged to join with Christians and others in urging your Member of Parliament to encourage the Government of Canada to do even more for the Middle East — by providing Canadian emergency and reconstruction assistance, by making it easier for our country to accept refugees, by participating in international efforts to foster justice and peace in the region, and by insisting on respect for freedom of conscience and religion, as well as respect for the rights of minorities.

Three Canadian Catholic agencies are fundraising for the suffering people of the Middle East. These are the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, CNEWA Canada, and Aid to the Church in Need – Canada. Catholics are encouraged if possible to support all three agencies in their work. At the same time, in order to help raise a significant contribution from our diocese, our parishes will be working especially with xxx.

Further information on the situation in the Middle East is regularly provided by Caritas Internationalis, which is the Church’s international network of over 160 national Catholic charities, serving all poor people, of all faiths, all over the world. Up-to-date reports on the Middle East are provided on its website in English, at http://www.caritas.org/where-we-are/middle-east-north-africa/; in French, at http://www.caritas.org/fr/ou-nous-trouver/mona/.

 

Please read this Statement by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

Father Bob Writes – August 2014

Our gospel recently was Jesus’ well-known parable on the sower and the seed. Jesus used a lot of agricultural imagery in his teaching, because this would have been very familiar to the people of his day, who lived a very rural existence. Of course, the way farming was done in those times was nothing like the way it is carried out today. With a sack of grain slung over one shoulder, the sower would reach into the sack, grab a handful of seeds, and scatter them about. Because of that technique, some seed landed in weeds, on the footpath, and in shallow rocky ground. Plowing usually took place after the sowing.

While a fair amount of seed might be wasted, that which landed on good soil and was plowed in would produce a generous harvest on a good year. God scatters his word and blessings about. Not all seeds come to fruition due to indifference or opposition. In fact, judging by Jesus’ parable, he is saying that three-quarters of the people who receive his word never respond to it in a way which leads to their spiritual growth!! Nevertheless, the parable is also saying that the harvest will be plentiful in our lives if we receive the seed of God’s word as good soil in which we allow God to weed out what does not belong, plow us over and soften us for his word to take root, and incorporate within us the nutrients of his blessings.

The question which the apostles ask Jesus in the gospel “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” is worth considering. Many a poet has been asked the meaning of a poem he or she wrote; most are reluctant to do so, preferring that people mull things over and try to figure out the meaning on their own. In this way, the listener is both more challenged and invested in the poem. Jesus, as a good storyteller, probably had the same approach. Keep them guessing, pondering the meaning and how the stories applied to their own lives, and coming back for more stories.

So which type of soil described by Jesus in today’s parable best reflects the state of your own heart: totally hard, shallow, conflicted or fertile?