Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Whoever is not against us is for us"

"Whoever is not against us is for us"
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (26B), September 27, 2009

BURNING QUESTION: Can non-Catholics go to heaven?
FEATURED BLOG: Tips for Effective Evangelism
PRIEST STORIES: Stabbed 20 times, priest forgives
PASTORAL HISPANA: Como lidiar con el escandalo

Dear Friends,

In last Sunday's Gospel, there was internal rivalry among the disciples. This Sunday, the apostle John leads them in ganging up against someone they considered to be an outsider - an unnamed exorcist who was driving out demons in Jesus' name. Our Discussion Questions this week can guide you during your Bible Study journey with your family, friends and church groups. Click here to join our Online Sunday Bible Study.

Anyone who is not against us is for us

This is the only time the Apostle John speaks on his own in Mark’s Gospel. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB tells us that this Gospel story provides a strong antidote to the ever-present temptation to overestimate one's own position as the chosen of God.

The challenge we face is whether we accept that the Spirit of God works wherever he wishes and through whomsoever he wishes. This means we are to treat our non-Catholic brothers and sisters with deep respect because we recognize that God can and does speak through them as He can and does speak through us. So, according to Fr. Pellegrino, it's perfectly acceptable for us to join them in prayer and in support. But we have to remain faithful Catholics. If we have been admitted to the Eucharist - and we have - we cannot reject the Gift of the Eucharist.

There is goodness everywhere and faith can be found in unexpected places and peoples. Our mission is to discover God. This call for tolerance, however, is not a lazy acceptance of anything that goes. Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA advises us that if groups put forward doctrines calculated to destroy morality and to remove the foundations from all civilized and Christian society, then they are to be combated.

To Love and to To Heal

Fr. Alex McAllister, the whole passage is summed up in that middle sentence of the Gospel reading about the reward given to those who give even a cup of water to someone because of Christ. Fr. John Foley, S. J. agrees that it is a key to the readings. We must be alert for the Holy Spirit within other persons and respect them, even if we do not like them.

We will comfort the world, and it will be comforted. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says this will happen when we show it that God sees its heart with the eyes of the heart and that God feels for it more than it feels for itself. Fr. Rich Lifrak calls this our destiny together: to love, to sacrifice, to speak, and to act, all for the sake of Jesus and His plans for this earth.

Scandal & Gehenna

Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. also points out how Jesus uses plain and blunt language to warn us about unholy living. When we use actions or words to mislead and deceive those who are not able to understand what is happening, scandal occurs for Jesus. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS points out Jesus' warning that one had better drown than lead another astray. He also exhorts us to avoid the causes and occasions of sin in themselves. "Nine Ways to Participate in Another's Sin" is an article that perfectly illustrates this point.

When we sin, Jesus reminds us about Gehenna where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Fr. Phil Bloom says with these images Jesus wants to convince us that nothing could be worse that separation from God. Persistently, Jesus brings us back to the real issue, the issue we want to avoid. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says our Lord bids us to forget about others’ issues and attend to our our own little compromises with the devil.

Priests: Sacrifice & Forgiveness

This past Wednesday, Sept. 23, we celebrated the feast day of a most holy priest, Fr. Pio. Deacon Greg Kandra homilizes about the saint a.k.a. Francesco Forgione and his most familiar home - the Confessional. From Texas, we bring you a story of a priest who was kicked, beaten and stabbed nearly 20 times. Last rites twice were administered to him in a single day. Still, Father Shaji Varghese harbors no anger toward his attackes. He has chosen to forgive his attacker. And from India, a priest is celebrating the priestly year by giving his kidney to save the life of a Hindu man who is a complete stranger to him.

"Do You Appreciate Your Priest?" To answer this question, a Spanish bishop composed - "with a bit of humor" - the following test titled "Priestly Appreciation." Take the test yourself. It comes complete with instructions on how to evaluate your answers and your level of appreciation for the priesthood.

Prayer & Evangelization

Catholics are known for helping the poor and defending the rights of the persecuted. We are known for our longstanding traditions and our beautiful churches and liturgies. Such things grow from a deep faith. So why is it that we often fall short when it comes to sharing that faith? Fire Up Your Faith! Follow these "Tips for Effective Evangelism." And if prayer is not a part of your daily life, "Why We Pray" can help. It's a list of the Top Ten reasons why we need to move daily prayer to our must-have list.

Family & Life

"You Think it Can't be Done" Check out how one family paid off $100,000 in debt in five years -- and still tithed. It's an unbelievable and inspiring story with real world applications for these trying economic times. And don't overlook importance of eating together as a family. Sept. 28, Monday, is being billed as “Family Day — A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children” by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Their research has found that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.

From Kansas, we bring you the story of a couple who celebrated 70 years of married life together. It was their faith and commitment, they said, that sustained their "journey of love" together. And here's some good news from the Dominican Republic. With a vote of 128-32, that country's National Assembly ratified on September 16 a revision of Article 30 of the country’s constitution, establishing the right to life and its inviolability from conception to natural death.

Friendship, H1N1, Do-re-mi & the Rosary

One hot, late July afternoon Cheryl Dickow decided to take a walk around her neighborhood. Pregnant, pulling her son in a little red wagon. Find out how a glass of lemonade started a lasting "Friendship made in heaven." And here's one that will put a smile on your face. Check out this "Do-re-mi" video that surprised and delighted unsuspecting passengers one ordinary day at the Antwerp, Belgium train station. Plus if you've ever wondered whether hanging a rosary in your car is a bad thing, here's what Bible Geek told a young reader about the very same topic.

Now that summer is officially over and the cooler weather are about to come in, it's time to get ready for the flu season. And when you do get the sniffles and the body aches, how do you know whether you have the Cold, the Flu or he H1N1 virus? We show you how to tell the difference.

Another eventful day in our Catholic world. Have a safe and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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