Your Input Needed – ‘Flourishing Congregations’ Survey

Imagine if all churches could be strengthened across Canada, ours included.  St. Philips and St. Clares has partnered with the Flourishing Congregations Institute to be part of this transformation, and we would like your help! Please take 20 minutes to fill out an anonymous national online survey at https://tinyurl.com/fc403c . We hope that ALL our parishioners will fill out the 20 minute survey (this includes both spouses in the household; if you are using the same computer, please ‘clear the cookies’ before the second person does the survey). With strong survey involvement, we will access data unique to our parish.   Be assured that no one in our church will have access to individual responses.  

Fill out the survey by November 17th and be entered into a draw for one of five $50 Amazon gift cards. To learn more about the survey, the larger project, and many of the anticipated benefits to arise, visit www.flourishingcongregations.org/national-survey. Also, see the letter from Archbishop Prendergast in this week’s bulletin.   Thanks for completing this survey!

Fr. Bob Writes – November 10, 2019

Resurrection from the dead is the theme of our readings today, from the woman with seven sons in today’s first reading to the woman who had married over time to seven husbands, in our gospel.  While the Pharisees believed in life after death and resurrection of the dead, the Sadducees did not and tried to make it seem ludicrous as they posed their question to Jesus.  The number seven is a biblical symbol of perfection. The idea of life after death seemed perfectly absurd to the Sadducees (why they were sad-you-see!!)

Although we believe in life after death, we often hear eulogies at funerals in which people talk about the person being united with a previously deceased spouse or doing all the things he or she enjoyed doing in this world…”he’s up there fishing with Uncle George” or “dancing with Mom,” or some such thing.  Jesus might want to correct us as well as the Sadducees.  Heaven, as he indicated, is going to be very different from what we experience here on earth.  It is a spiritual state beyond the ways of this physical world we know.  We believe in life after death, but what do you imagine it will be like?

Fr. Bob Writes – November 3, 2019

Our gospel today tells of the encounter in the city of Jericho between Jesus and the chief tax collector, Zacchaeus.  Chief tax collectors for a city or region contracted with the Roman government.  They bid for the job taking into account how much they needed to collect to cover their bid, hire a staff of assistants, grease the palm of some public officials and guarantee a good return on investment for themselves.

 Zacchaeus was a shrewd businessman and had become one of the wealthiest men in the Jericho area.  Nevertheless, his wealth wasn’t bringing him happiness.  With all the travellers passing through, Jericho was always current with the latest news which certainly included commentary on what Jesus was doing and saying up in Galilee.  Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus.  It was more than curiosity that motivated him to climb that tree.  His choice to become a tax collector had made him unwelcome at the local synagogue.  At the time, he likely thought he would have such a good life with all the money he would make, that giving up the contact with fellow Jews would be worth it.  Although he was a non-practicing Jew, he was, however, still a believer.  No matter how much money he made, the happiness he hoped to experience eluded him.  He may have felt caught, that there was no going back on the decisions he had made … that was, until Jesus came to town. 

Fr. Bob Writes – October 27, 2019

The gospel parable for this weekend tells of a speech by a Pharisee which reeks of self-interest and self-righteousness.  It is not easy to avoid these twin sins.  Even our conversation so easily takes a self-serving turn.  Self-preservation means more than species survival.  It also includes a constant struggle for recognition which probably never vanishes completely.  But repeatedly Jesus puts us on guard. 

So much of Luke’s gospel represents a plea for humility and lowliness.  Those who emerge in a favourable light are sinners and outlaws for the simple reason that they know what the need for God means.  They have nowhere to turn but to God – and they do so. 

If we could learn to make as much out of our failures as we do our successes, our lives would be much more God-centered.  Failure is sobering; it marks our vulnerability.  Sin, as a part of failure, shows us how far we can distance ourselves from God.  The key is bringing all of that before God as an expression of our helplessness.  Then our whole life, even with its successes, will take on a new light.  Our prayer becomes richer because it truly expresses our dependence.

In our gospel parable this weekend, the tax collector goes home the winner.  He gave nothing and received everything – and he realized it.  St Paul, in our second reading this weekend, speaks of his successes.  Faith-filled and often tested in the furnace of adversity, he is fully convinced that it is God who has brought him through.  His, too, is the cry of the poor.