Monday, September 29, 2014

Two sons

In today’s Gospel, the first son represents tax collectors and prostitutes, the worst sinners of Jesus’ day - who by their sin refuse to serve in the Lord’s vineyard.   But, after hearing John the Baptist, they repented and did what is right.
The second son represents the chief priests and elders who worshiped in the Temple and kept up the appearance of a "yes" to God.  But they refused to accept John the Baptist's call to a change of heart. When the promised one came and stood in their midst, they missed him.

These religious leaders were hypocrites. As Jesus' disciples, we have to do more than "accept him as Lord."   We must go into his vineyard and follow through on our initial "yes."  Otherwise, we also will be hypocrites.

Catholics don’t tend to evangelize.  We watch as other groups, fundamentalists, Baptists, Jehovah witnesses, Mormons go out, even door to door, and evangelize.
Maybe that's the point Pope Francis is making when he says: "All the baptized are called to be evangelizers. If we have said our "yes" to Christ through our baptism, then just going to church on Sundays is not enough. Our "yes" must be followed by going into the vineyard." Each day our words and actions must be consistent with what we say about believing in Jesus."
I recently heard a joke about this.  What do you get when you cross a Jehovah witness with a Catholic?  You get someone who goes out to evangelize, knocks on the door, and says nothing.
Why don’t we evangelize?  We have the fullness of truth.  We have 2000 years of history, all the way back to the time of Christ.  We have an excellent resource in the Catechism. We would seem to have everything we need.  At the very least, we should be evangelizing those close to us – our family and our friends.  Why don’t we?
I think there are two reasons for this.  First, we don’t know Jesus and his love of us, and second we don’t know his Church and its teaching. 
The second reading tells us about Jesus’ unbelievable love for us. "Rather, he emptied himself taking the form of a slave coming in human likeness .. he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
Can you even imagine a God who would love His people so much that he sends his son, not as a king but as a lowly carpenter’s son, knowing that his son would be crucified? 
How do we get to know Jesus and His church so that we can tell others about him?
We can watch EWTN and listen to Sacred Heart Radio.  In fact, you might even hear Father Rob on Sacred Heart Radio.
We can go to a Catholic bookstore and purchase good Catholic books, such as a Bible or a Catechism.
We can search the web for good Catholic resources such as Catholic Answers and the US bishops site, USCCB.  We can go to our parish web site to find links to these and other good sites.
We can attend a bible study or a faith formation session.  This also gives us the opportunity to rub elbows with other Catholics who are learning their faith.  Our fall faith formation program, Symbolon, which provides a comprehensive overview of the faith, begins tomorrow night.  This would be a good way for you to learn your faith.
Bishop Fulton Sheen once said: “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”   If we rely on the media to teach us our faith, we also won’t know what the Catholic Church actually teaches.
There are many opportunities for us to learn our faith.  But after we learn it, we are challenged to share it in our words and our actions. 
As the Pope says, "Reading the Scriptures also makes it clear that the gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God... Both Christian preaching and life are meant to have an impact on society". Today’s parable would say it this way, "If you said "yes" to Christ, go out and do the work he asks you to do." Jesus said it in another way in his Sermon on the Mount. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven".
As Christians we should examine our lives. Do we say yes to Him but do nothing?  Do we know Jesus’ church well enough to lead others to him?  Our family, our friends, and our co-workers need us to show them the way.  Are we ready and willing to do this?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Who do I say Jesus is?

Jesus asks us today “who do you say that I am?”  Our answer to this question comes from our actions not from our words.  Do our actions show others that we really know who Jesus is? 
I wonder if we follow all of his commandments or just some of them.  I wonder if we accept all of the teachings of his church or just some of them.  Do we accept Jesus as the Son of God and our savior by all of our actions or just some of them, when it is convenient?
Michelle Ranck, a member of this parish who teaches religion at Mount Notre Dame recently told me that one of her students asked her: “Mrs Ranck, do you believe everything the church teaches?  Michelle’s response was: “well, yes, if it is a teaching on faith and morals.”  Her students were amazed by her response.  They view the church as just another organization – not one established by Jesus and led by the Holy Spirit.  They probably think that Michelle is either na├»ve or brainwashed in believing everything the Church teaches.
What about us?  Do we trust Jesus church?  Can we see past its human failures to its truth?  Do we marvel at its saints or are we dragged down by its sinners?  Can we believe Jesus words about his church: “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?”  Do we live our lives in hope and joy, trusting the Lord or in fear and depression watching the work of the evil one?

Who do we say Jesus is?   Who do we say his holy Catholic church is?  The girls at Mount Notre Dame and their attitude toward Jesus’ church is typical of the attitude of most in our secular society today.  The only way that this attitude will change is if we become saints.  If those around us see that we are living as Jesus tells us, if our actions say that “Jesus is Lord”, then slowly those close to us will begin to see, and then some will believe.  Who do we say that Jesus is?