Fr Bob Writes – June 28, 2015

Fr Bob writes : “We are to love people and use money, not love money and use people”

Our second reading this weekend deals with a collection of money that Paul and his associates took up among Gentile churches during his third missionary journey. The proceeds were gathered to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem. The donation was a practical gesture of charity toward fellow believers in need, as well as a symbolic token of unity expressed by Gentile churches on behalf of their Jewish Christian brethren.

The importance of this collection for Paul is shown in the various methods he uses in his second letter to the Corinthians to get them to show generosity (chapters 8 and 9). Firstly , he praises another Church community (the Macedonians) for contributing abundantly to the Jerusalem collection despite their destitute circumstances(verses 1 – 7).  He thus challenges the Corinthians, who are comparatively wealthy, to follow the lead of their northern neighbors by giving alms in proportion to their prosperity.   Here, Paul tries to stimulate a healthy rivalry, hoping that the generous example of the Macedonians will draw forth an even greater gift from the Corinthians.

Secondly, and this is the focus of our second reading this weekend, he points to the example of Christ, who “though he was rich”, i.e. in his divine attributes as God, nonetheless “for your sakes he became poor,” by giving up those attributes to take on human nature and experience all the deprivations we humans suffer, including death. By his death, in atonement for our sins, we receive eternal life, and so “through his poverty” says St Paul, “you became rich.”   Why not then, hints Paul, “impoverish yourself ” a little to make others, i.e. the Jerusalem Christians, rich?

Paul then speaks about the value of unity among Christians. If the Corinthians give to alleviate the poverty of the Jerusalem Christians now, then later, when and if they find themselves in a similar situation of destitution, the Jerusalem Christians will help them out of their abundance.

In our day, we are used to various stratagems employed by professional fundraisers to extract money from us. It is interesting to note that St Paul could have taught all of them a thing or two about the subtle art of fundraising!!

Fr Bob Writes – June 21, 2015

Here is an excellent commentary from Fr Denny Dempsey on this Sunday’s gospel story of Jesus calming the storm

“The Sea of Galilee is 11 miles long and 8.5 miles wide. It lies 640 feet below sea level in a depression that runs down through the Dead Sea, the result of two tectonic plates slowly moving apart for millions of years forming the Jordan River valley. Moisture-laden winds off the Mediterranean Sea 35 miles to the west gain momentum as they drop down into that depression to the lake. A mild wind can quickly blow up into a gale driving six-foot waves.

 The boat, if similar to the one from the period raised from the mud of the Sea of Galilee in the 1980’s, was about 26 feet long and 4 feet deep, fitted with a mast and several places for setting oars. Used for fishing during the night, it doubled as a transport for cargo and passengers during the day. It was in the stern that Jesus was sleeping, out of the wind and rain with some sandbags for cushions. The stern, being in the back of the boat, is the most stable place in a boat. While the bow (front end) may pitch and rise and fall wildly on the waves, movement in the stern might feel comparatively like rocking a baby. 

Was Jesus really asleep? He could have been but I think he may have been just pretending, keeping an eye slightly open to see how his apostles would respond to the storm…a little test of their confidence. Does it ever seem like Jesus is sleeping through some storms in our lives? Our faith may be put to the test, as with the apostles. We are tested through the storms of life. Do we give up or keep going? Do we take our anxieties out on others or become an inspiration for them? Do we get closer or farther away from God? Note that, while the apostles woke Jesus, they didn’t ask for strength to get through. Instead they challenged Jesus’ concern for them. The storm had gotten the better of them, and they were taking it out on Jesus. Reflecting on the storms of life, Paul challenges Christians (Romans 8:35) with the question: “What can separate us from the love of Christ?” The answer? Nothing, if we don’t let it.

 I’m sure the apostles were relieved with the “great calm” which ensued, but was Jesus possibly teaching them another lesson? There they were, out in the middle of a huge lake with no wind. The sail was not going to do them any good. They would have had to break out the oars and row the rest of the way. You know that expression, “Be careful what you ask for…you might get it!!” Sometimes it is better to ask God’s strength to get through the storms of life than to ask God to take them all away

St. Philip TAC Meeting Agenda for June 16, 2015

The St. Philip Temporal Affairs Council (“TAC”) will hold its June meeting, and the last before the summer months, on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.

In keeping with the TAC’s desire for transparency and accountability to the parish community and to inform it of the issues the TAC deals with, a copy of the meeting agenda can be obtained by clicking here.

While the TAC does not make public its meeting minutes by publishing them to the parish website, parishioners wishing more information on any of the items raised in the meeting can contact either Fr. Bob or Pat McIver, TAC Chair.

Fr Bob Writes – June 14, 2015

The heads of state and government of the seven leading industrial countries (G7) met in Germany last week to discuss the most pressing global challenges. In the light of this meeting, I feel that some reflections by Pope Francis were appropriate to this topic. He writes:

“Today no one in our world feels responsible; we have lost a sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters. We have fallen into the hypocrisy of the priest and the Levite whom Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan: we see our brother half-dead on the side of the road, and perhaps we say to ourselves “Poor soul…!”, and then we go on our way. It’s not our responsibility, and with that we feel reassured, assuaged.

The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!

We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion- “suffering with” others: the globalization of indifference has taken away the ability to weep! Let us ask the Lord for the grace to weep over our indifference, to weep over the cruelty of our world, of our own hearts, and of all those who in anonymity make social and economic decisions which open the door to tragic situations like this. “Has anyone wept?” Today, has anyone wept in our world?”

Fr Bob Writes – Feast of Corpus Christi – June 7, 2015

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi – the Body and Blood of Christ. Here is a reflection by Pope Francis on this feast.

“This evening (Solemnity of Corpus Christi), once again, the Lord distributes for us the bread that is his Body; he makes himself a gift, and we, too, experience “God’s solidarity” with man, a solidarity that is never depleted, a solidarity that never ceases to amaze us. God makes himself close to us; in the sacrifice of the cross, he humbles himself, entering the darkness of death to give us his life, which overcomes evil, selfishness, and death. 

Jesus, this evening too, gives himself to us in the Eucharist, shares in our journey; indeed, he makes himself food, the true food which sustains our life also in moments when the road becomes hard going and obstacles slow our steps. And in the Eucharist, the Lord makes us walk on his road, that of service, of sharing, of giving; and if it is shared, that little we have, that little we are, become riches, for the power of God – which is the power of love- comes down into our poverty to transform it.

So let us ask ourselves this evening, in adoring Christ who is really present in the Eucharist: do I let myself be transformed by him? Do I let the Lord who gives himself to me guide me to going out ever more from my little enclosure, in order to give, to share, to love him and others?