Fr. Tim’s Homily for October 27, 2019

 

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

October 27th, 2019

National Priesthood Sunday

 

Readings for Sunday click here

Sirach 35: 12-14, 16-18

2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18

Luke 18: 9-14

 

         How weak will you allow yourself to be for Jesus Christ? Or, to put it another way, how much control are you willing to surrender to allow Jesus to take charge of your life?

         As we renew our stewardship commitments to Him, maybe we fear that we do not have what it takes to fulfill them.

         As we get ready to launch our Church Enhancement Project at Saint Joseph, and still need to raise another $500,000, maybe we fear that we might fail.

         As I stand before you to preach a homily without any notes, I do fear having a memory lapse.

         But when are we at our best? When we put our fears in Our Lord’s hands and allow Him to lead us where He wants us to go, yes?

         This weekend, we say farewell to Sister Stefana who is retiring and who has ministered among us for the past 19 years. When she entered the Sisters of Notre Dame more than 50 years ago, she served for many years as a homemaker for members of her community. Then the Lord led her to pastoral ministry here and she has become beloved to so many of us. The Lord wanted this and He enabled her to do so.

         And now she is ready to open a new chapter in her calling as a religious sister, returning to her Notre Dame Motherhouse in Chardon, where it all began for her.

         There will be a reception for Sister Stefana in our Saint Joseph Social Hall after the 8:30 AM Mass this Sunday. Our prayers and our gratitude are with her as she returns home to Chardon later this week to be with her religious community, the Sisters of Notre Dame.

         This is National Priesthood Sunday. We pray for all the priests in our country. While the sinful failings of some have come to light, the vast majority of our priests are good, hard-working, self-sacrificing men of faith and prayer and kindness.

Sharing in the priesthood of Jesus, we priests are to continue to do what Jesus did. And people have every right to expect us to show them what Jesus is like.

In May, 7 new priests were ordained for the service of the Diocese of Cleveland.

83 enthusiastic young men are currently in formation in our two seminaries, Borromeo and Saint Mary’s, and 57 of them for the Diocese of Cleveland. Our own Nathan Frankart is among them, in his junior year at Borromeo Seminary College.

Pray for our seminarians. And please pray for all the fine young people of our parishes that the Lord may be calling to the priesthood or the religious life. Let them know that you think they have what it takes to be a priest or a sister or a brother, if indeed God is calling them.

I thank the Lord for calling me – in spite of my unworthiness and inadequacy – to be His priest. Forty-four years have passed since my ordination on 14 June 1975 – and I have never once regretted this decision. I am grateful that the Lord has called me to serve you as His priest … as your priest … here in our Saint Joseph and Nativity Parish Families.

I began with two questions today: How weak will you allow yourself to be for Jesus Christ? Or, how much control are you willing to surrender to allow Jesus to take charge of your life?

With these questions in mind, let’s take a look at today’s Gospel.

         The Pharisee went to the temple and began to pray proudly, reminding God of all the good that he had done and how rotten everyone else was, including the tax collector.

         The tax collector, with his head bowed, just beat his breast and said, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

         And Jesus said that the tax collector went home right with God, while the Pharisee did not.

         When the standard fare of our conversations is boasting about “all the good that we are doing, and doing so well,” we tend to forget about God in our lives.

         A writer coined the phrase, “the gift of inadequacy.” We all can feel inadequate in life: wondering if we are up to the task, fearful that someone will find out how inadequate we feel. Yet this author talks about inadequacy as a gift. That realizing my own inadequacy leads me to depend upon the strength that only God can provide.

         As Jesus teaches, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” [John 15: 5]. And as Saint Paul acknowledges the gift of his own inadequacy, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” [Philippians 4: 13].

         The Pharisee looked respectable. He probably was a good neighbor and would have been a fine committee leader: he got things done. He believed in God, but he did not think that he really needed God. The Pharisee had no place for “the gift of his inadequacy.”

         The tax collector knew that he was a great sinner. He probably had over-charged people for their taxes and then pocketed the surplus. Now in the temple he bowed his head and admitted “the gift of his inadequacy”: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

         The tax collector went home right with God. The Pharisee went home full of himself.

         “The gift of inadequacy” makes growth possible: when we admit our need for God.

How weak will you allow yourself to be for Jesus Christ? Or, how much control are you willing to surrender to allow Jesus to take charge of your life?

As Jesus teaches, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” [John 15: 5]. And as Saint Paul acknowledges, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” [Philippians 4: 13].

         “O God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And God does – for all those who will accept “the gift of their inadequacy.”

Fr. Tim’s Homily for October 20, 2019

 

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

October 20th, 2019

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time-C
Annual Stewardship Commitment reminder
Saint Joseph Church Enhancement Project update
 

Readings for Sunday click here

Exodus 17: 8-13
2 Timothy 3: 14–4: 2
Luke 18: 1-8

 

     Our Annual Stewardship Renewal is underway. If you brought your commitment card with you, you are welcome to place in it the Offertory collection basket. If you still need a commitment card, they can be found at the ends of the pews today and at the doorways of the church. We would be very grateful if everyone would return their completed commitment cards this week.

     Tom Ziska and his son, Rick Ziska, are our architects for our Saint Joseph Parish Church Enhancement Project. It is with sadness that I let you know that Tom Ziska died this past Monday morning, following complications after he fell from a ladder about a month ago. May Tom live forever in the kingdom of heaven, and may the Lord comfort his family with His consolation and peace.

     For Saint Joseph Parishioners, there is some very important information about our Church Enhancement Project in this weekend’s bulletin, which can also be viewed on our parish website. We will be getting started on the outdoor work very soon, before the wintry weather is here.
There is more information in this letter than I can briefly summarize for you right now. So I encourage you to read my letter in full.
     Very important to understand is that although we have already raised $1.4 million for this Church Enhancement Project, we still need to raise another $500,000. Material and labor prices have gone up. And there are some items that now need attention – like the leaking church roof and the dangerously-crumbling bell tower – that we had not originally included.

     Is raising an additional $500,000 do-able? I believe that it is. We have 2000 households in Saint Joseph Parish. I am grateful for the 300 households from Saint Joseph who contributed to our Church Enhancement Project capital campaign, enabling us to raise $1.4 million. And we still have another 1700 households from whom we would still welcome a pledge or a gift. Might you be among them?
     Enclosed in this bulletin is a pledge form. And please note that this new pledge fulfillment period continues until 31 January 2022, one year longer than before. We want to make pledge payments easier for those who are pledging now for the first time, and for those who would like to increase their original pledge by adding an extra year of contributions.

     In the next few weeks, you are going to be seeing our Church Enhancement Project getting underway. It is going to happen! And these will be some very exciting times for Saint Joseph Parish. Every gift counts and every gift will help us achieve our goal to “enhance” our beloved church to celebrate her 50th birthday in 2020.
     Saint Joseph Parishioners, may I please count on you to be “all in” for this exciting parish project? If you have not done so already, would you kindly let me know this week, if possible, what your pledge decision is? And I thank you all from my heart.

And now some thoughts on today’s Gospel.
A widow had lost her only son, and she was very upset with God. One day she was pouring out her heart to one of her friends, and her friend remarked, “You know, I always wanted to have a son, but my husband and I were never blessed with children.”
And the widow said that her way of thinking changed. She was no longer upset with God. Her payers became those of thanksgiving because she had had such a wonderful son.

It is amazing what prayer can do for us – changing the ways we think, changing the ways we feel.
So Jesus, in today’s Gospel, tells us a parable about the necessity of praying always and not growing weary, not losing heart.
Jesus talks about a dishonest judge. To get a fair judgment from this judge, a person needed to bribe him. Judges like this were called “robber judges.” They were described as “willing to pervert justice for a plate of meat.”
And then there was a widow who brought a matter to this judge. She had no money with which to bribe him. She had no social status to hold over his head. But she had one thing in her favor: she was persistent. She went day and night to that judge asking for a settlement.
Finally, the judge said, “I’ve had it! This woman is driving me berserk, so I’ll give her the settlement that she’s asking for lest she come into my office and give me a black eye.”

What is Jesus teaching us about prayer? Notice: that crooked judge is not like God at all. This is a not a parable of similarity but a parable of contrast. If a dishonest judge is willing to give a just judgment because of someone’s persistence, how much more so will our good and loving Father be willing to answer our prayers because He loves and cares for us?

We all have our catalogues of prayers that were answered. We also have our lists of the times when we prayed but we didn’t get what we were asking for. [I know that in my life that I am grateful to God that some of my prayers were not answered the way I was asking for. It would have been a disaster! And I’ll bet the same is true for you.]
But there are also times when we have prayed and God didn’t seem to give us any answer at all. What are we to make of all of this?

One way we can approach that question is by looking at children. Children ask for all kinds of things, don’t they? [I can see by your nods and smiles that you know exactly what I am talking about.]
Imagine a child says to you, “May I have a brownie, please?” And you answer, “Certainly you may.” The request was made and the request was answered right away.
The child may ask during dinner, “May I have a brownie, please?” And you might respond, “You may, but only after you have finished your vegetables.” The answer is yes, but not right at the moment.
The child may ask, “May I have a brownie, please?” And you may respond, “No, you have had three already and I don’t want you to get sick.” You said no, but not to be mean. It is for the child’s well-being not to have four brownies in a row.
Now think of God our Father. There are times that we ask – and God likes it when we ask – and sometimes we get an immediate answer. There are other times we ask and God tells us, “Yes, but not just yet.” And still other times we ask God and God says no – not to be mean but out of love for us, or out of love for others.

You and I cannot see tomorrow with absolute precision, let alone next week, next month, next year. But God sees the whole picture. And if the unjust judge was willing to answer that woman’s request because of her persistence, how much more so is our loving God willing to hear us when we pray.
Remember, our heavenly Father loves it when we pray. And so Jesus tells us a story to help us pray always and not grow weary, and not lose heart.

Fr. Tim’s Homily for Sunday, October 13, 2019

 

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

October 13th, 2019

Respect Life Sunday

Weekend Three: Stewardship Renewal

Stewardship Renewal Commitment Weekend 

 

Readings for Sunday click here

2 Kings 5: 14-17

2 Timothy 2: 8-13

Luke 17: 11-19

 

This is our Annual Stewardship Renewal Commitment Weekend. Thank you for being a part of this great opportunity for our Saint Joseph and Nativity Parish Families as we make our stewardship commitments together in the areas of time, talent and treasure for the next twelve months – as we strive to become even better disciples of Jesus

         I know that many of you have brought your commitment cards with you today, all filled out. Thank you! Others of you have already mailed in your commitment cards. Thank you!

         Perhaps you forgot to fill out a card. Well I am going to give you the opportunity to do so right here with the cards and pencils in the pews. The cards trimmed in light green are for Saint Joseph parishioners. The cards trimmed in dark green are for Nativity parishioners. Just raise your hand if you need a card or a pencil and I would ask those nearby to pass one to you.

You can use one card for all the persons in your household – adults and young people. Please write your first name next to the ministry that you are either “already involved in” or that you are “interested in joining.”

         At the time of the Offertory collection, we may all deposit our completed commitment cards in the basket along with our regular Offertory envelopes.

         Since this Commitment Weekend is so important, if you have not already completed a card, I invite you to do so right now while I offer some thoughts about today’s Gospel.

         Our world proclaims this message all the time, and it is a lie: “The more power, prestige, property, popularity and stuff that you have, the happier you will be.”

         Jesus teaches us differently: “The more grateful you are for all the blessings that God has given you, the happier you will be.”  

Today’s Gospel lays out this lesson.

         Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem and meets ten lepers. One is a Samaritan, an enemy of the Jews.

         The lepers cry out, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And Jesus did. He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” On their way there, they were all healed.

Then what? Nine of them continued on their merry way. Only one of them – the Samaritan – came back to thank Jesus. And Jesus said, “Where are the other nine? Has no one but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”

This is the only time in the Gospels where Jesus ever demands thanks. All the rest of the time He leaves that act of graciousness up to us.

The lesson? Only I can make the decision to be grateful. No one can do this for me – or for you. And a grateful heart makes for a happier person.

         The writer Fulton Oursler [1893-1952] was an agnostic before he became a Catholic at the age of 50. Then, astounded by how little people knew about the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, he wrote his now-classic book, The Greatest Story Ever Told [1949].

In another piece, Oursler tells about an African-American woman who helped to raise him when he was a child. As a non-believing youth he used to mock her faith. Before every meal she would bow her head and pray, “Much obliged, Lord, for this wonderful food.”

One day he said to her, “The food is going to be there whether you pray or not. So why bother?”

She answered, “Food always tastes better when you have a grateful heart.” She went on, “When I was a little girl there was an old preacher who taught me a very important lesson. He said, ‘Every single day, look for God’s blessings, and thank God for them. If you look for those blessings every day you will indeed find them.’”

         And then she added, “But this morning, when I was sitting on the edge of my bed, I couldn’t think of a single thing to thank God for. I thought and I thought… And then, from underneath my bedroom door, came the aroma of coffee brewing in the kitchen. And I said, ‘Much obliged, Lord, for the coffee. And much obliged for its fine smell.’”

         Years later the woman was dying. And Fulton Oursler and some others were at her bedside. Fulton thought, “I wonder what she’ll find to be grateful for today.” The woman opened her eyes and looked around. She smiled and said, “Much obliged, Lord, for such fine friends!”

         How was she able to do this? Every day she looked for God’s blessings in her life. And every day she found them, to the day she died – because she had a grateful heart. And she was a happy person.

I try to live as a grateful, happy steward of God’s bountiful blessings.

I try to remember that all that I have is a gift from God: my very life, my time, my talents and my treasure. God wants me to receive these gifts from Him gratefully, to develop them with an increase, to share them generously, so that each person gives as they have been blessed and each person receives as they need.

Stewardship as a way of life is all about becoming an even better disciple of Jesus each day – and, with a grateful heart that enables me to see God’s blessings all around me, to be a happier person.

         I ask each one of you, during this Mass, this Eucharist, this supreme prayer of thanksgiving to God, to recall some blessings that you are especially grateful for today.

And tell Him from your heart, “Thank you, Lord. Thanks so much. I am much obliged for all of your fine blessings.”