Fr. Bob Writes – September 15, 2019

The gospel passage this weekend gives us the well-known parable of the “Prodigal Son” from the gospel of Luke.

Both Luke and Matthew recount the parable of the lost sheep, but only Luke includes the extra parables of the lost coin and the lost (or prodigal) son.

Note that the parables are addressed to the Pharisees and scribes who were complaining that Jesus ate with “sinners.”  They condemned those who had gotten too enamored by things of this world…the lost sheep who had wandered away from the practice of the faith…the coin lost in the cracks of life. They didn’t go after them or search for them, trying to find them and bring them back, for they did not consider them or any value.  They are the older brother in the parable while those they considered as sinners are represented by the younger brother. 

The people in the latter group were Jewish in background and belief but had chosen pathways in life which caused them to leave the embrace of the Jewish community.  Tax collectors worked for the Romans and were, therefore, not welcome in synagogues.  Prostitutes were excluded for their lifestyle as were a number of other “sinners” for one reason or another.  Although not publicly practicing their religion, they still felt a desire in their heart to be at peace and reconciled with God, evident in their attraction to Jesus.  Unlike the judgement of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus gave “sinners” an open door and a way to come back to God.

Jesus could read their hearts and received them as the father in the parable received his returning son.  His openness gave them an opportunity for reconciliation with God resulting in a celebration.  At times we may tend to be like the Pharisees, judging and rejecting people rather than opening a door for restoration and reconciliation with God.  We need to make a conscious effort to take Jesus’ approach if we are to call ourselves Christians.  Through the father in the parable, Jesus challenges us to be understanding and patient with those who differ from ourselves in the way they think and act…to look for the commonality which binds us together in the same family.

Fr. Bob Writes – September 8, 2019

Fr Bob writes :  As we begin a new parish and school year, we remind ourselves that we are on a journey, a journey that has as its goal the kingdom of heaven. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus is also on a journey.

Luke begins his gospel account with the infancy narratives of Jesus (chapters 1 – 2) followed by Jesus’ ministry in Galilee (chapters 3 through 9:51). Then in 9:52 Jesus “sets his face” for Jerusalem.  The remainder of the gospel recounts that journey to the goal of confrontation leading to the victory of the cross and resurrection.  Jesus knows where he is going and what lies ahead.  The reader is invited to join Jesus on that journey as we symbolically place ourselves within the great crowd that travels with him. 

Jesus turns and addresses the crowd in our gospel passage this weekend.  The word “turned” adds a lot to this passage.  It implies that Jesus had been pondering things over in his mind for some time as they walked along.  He wanted to challenge the crowds’ motives for following him. He wanted them to be sure they were ready to complete the journey with him.  He had to stop to turn around.  Things came to a halt. 

We also need time to stop and consider where we are going in this Christian journey.  The Greek word which is translated as “turn” also means to “convert.”  Jesus turns physically to challenge his followers to conversion.  He uses images from construction and warfare to encourage those who follow him to calculate what one needs to do to complete the journey, mindful of the sacrifices and dedication necessary.  If being one with Jesus now and living eternally in heaven are among your goals, what do you need to do?

St. Philip Cemetery Mass: Sunday August 18, 10:30AM

The St Philips Cemetery Mass will be on Sunday August 18th at 10:30am in the cemetery.  Bring your lawn chairs!  There will be a blessing of our new cross … in celebration of our 200th Anniversary. The Cemetery administration kindly requests that you donate to the special cemetery collection at this Mass; this helps with the upkeep of our beautiful grounds.  Please use the blue envelope marked ‘Cemetery Fund’ that can be found in your donation boxes (at the beginning of June). In case of rain, the Mass will be held in St. Philips Church.