Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant."

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (29B), October 18, 2009

BURNING QUESTION: Is it more noble to volunteer for secular or church work?
FEATURED STORY: To be deep in history is to cease to be angry
STORIES OF PRIESTS: Pope: Priests are “Essential and irreplaceable
PASTORAL HISPANA: La autoridad se trata de servicio y no de poder

Dear Friends,

In the Gospel this Sunday, brothers John and James make their famous request for preferred seating next to Jesus' throne in heaven. And our Lord Jesus takes the opportunity to give them a lesson on the nature of true greatness. 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.

Wanting Glory?

Like the disciples who walked with Jesus, many of us have great ambitions. Fr. James Gilhooley says Jesus Himself was clearly a person of ambition. And he explains why ambition is not all bad. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains that Jesus also wanted the apostles to be ambitious, but for true greatness, which is not about big heads but big hearts.

By depicting the naked ambition of James and John in his Gospel, Mark is telling us that neither one of these gentlemen was a saint. Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA discusses the marvelous reality that Jesus did not give up on these disciples despite His frustrations and efforts to educate them about what He was about. And neither will Jesus give up on us. No matter how often we fail, he will stand by us. Fr. Phil Bloom tells us that Jesus spelled out the price for us: Not by using others, but by allowing oneself to be used. What a more attractive Church we would belong to if each of us had the ambition, like the Lord, to serve and not to be served.

Call to Service

This Gospel story is another call to service. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB declares that Jesus meant this service to be a free service of love, not out of fear for God. Jesus was not servant out of servile fear of a tyrant Father, but as beloved Son, who in turn loved as he was loved. So must we also learn the difference between choosing to serve and choosing to be a servant. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS tell us that when we chose to serve, we decide whom we will serve and when we will serve. But when we choose to be a servant, we surrender the right to decide when we will serve. We become available and vulnerable.

What Jesus is saying, in effect, is this: we will taste suffering, everyone will. Fr. Ron Rolheiser warns us however that while suffering can make us deep in compassion and forgiveness, it can also make us deep in bitterness and anger. And only compassion and forgiveness can bring glory into our lives. We are, after all, a Eucharistic People. And as such, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino explains, our celebration of the Eucharist must encompass washing the feet of the Lord’s people.

Our calling is to share our God-given gifts with others. All of us have different gifts. And we have a responsibility to develop our gifts in service to the Lord. What can I do best? What do you do best? Our Burning Question for you this week will strain you to reflect on the concept of service: "Is it more noble to volunteer for the benefit of secular communities, like hospitals, city halls and such? Or is it better to volunteer for Church work, like teaching catechism, reading the Scripture at Mass, carrying communion to the sick, etc.?" Think about it and share your thoughts with us.

Asking of God

Fr. John Foley, S. J. says often we think of God as someone who helps us get everything we need, the great parent in the sky. He says sometimes this is good, sometimes it is not. So when you pray, Father Cusick asks, do you "ask for the world" in your prayers. Well, he says don't stop there, go ahead and ask for heaven as well. If we share the desire of James and John for a high place in heaven, perhaps our first prayer should be for the grace to accept our own share in the Lord's suffering, to accept the crosses that are given to us, not merely the ones we choose for ourselves.

A Call to Priesthood

Finally, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB homilizes that the readings for this Sunday invite us to prayerfully consider the priesthood and priestly ministry. The first reading is the passage of Isaiah's mysterious suffering servant who takes upon himself the people's iniquity. The second reading speaks of Christ the high priest, tried in every way like us but sin, and the Gospel passage speaks of the Son of Man who has come to give his life in ransom for many. These three passages bring to light a fundamental aspect of the heart of priestly ministry and one that we celebrate together as God's people in the Eucharistic mystery.

Angry Catholic Bloggers & Evangelizing Like St. Paul

Many of us have friends who have "fallen away" from the Catholic Church and we simply didn't do anything about it. Ask your average Catholic about evangelization and you get a mumble and a shrug. Mark Shea says it's not that Catholics think it’s bad. Rather, it is that most Catholics simply have no idea what to do. So he offers some concrete help. Some, however, have taken the more active approach and actually evangelize on the internet via one of the many Catholic blogs. But take a quick survey of the Catholic blogosphere, and one can't help but notice that one of the more common attributes of many Catholic bloggers is that they are angry. Eric Sammons says he thinks one of the main reasons why is that they are not “deep in history.”

Saints, Infant Baptism & Daily Mass It is a simple historical fact that the Church has always baptised infants. Even our earliest documents speak of the practice. Msgr. Charles Pope talks about it in relation to the "Complete Gratuity of Salvation." From the Vatican during the canonization of five new saints, Pope Benedict defined sainthood: "A saint is one who doesn't put themselves at the center, but rather chooses to go against the grain and live according to the Gospel." And a daily Mass-goer, a convert to the faith, reflects on how amazingly often the liturgy speaks directly to the questions of our hearts.

Family, Youth, & Life

People of all faiths worldwide will join as one voice to pray for life and peace during the world’s largest day of prayer Oct. 18. Worldwide Fatima Sanctity of Life Day was organized by the World Apostolate of Fatima/Blue Army, USA to inspire one hundred million prayers for Life and Peace. In Romania, its Catholic Bishops Conference expressed concerns regarding the cultural and religious cleansing that the Greek-Catholic Church is currently facing in that country.

From the Vatican, the Holy See is countering the suggestion that "reproductive health" includes the right to abortion, and is urging the United Nations to consider human persons as the world's greatest resource. It's a lesson Dr. John Bruchalski takes to heart, but not always. He used to perform abortions, then he returned to his Catholic faith. Now, his mission is to help spread the message of Divine Mercy through his powerful conversion story.

More good news, sort of. Carl Anderson reports that whatever problems the recession has created, it has also created a great opportunity for families: Divorces are down as married couples rethink the financial implications. It's a good opening for each of us individually, as well as for parishes and Catholic organizations, to help save marriages. And here's an important related reflection for married couples: If the “I Do” Becomes “You’d Better”

Still from the Vatican this week, Benedict XVI wasjoined via satellite by university students from nine African metropolises to pray the rosary "with Africa and for Africa." And a new US research reports that religion makes “quite a significant difference” in teenagers’ lives.

God Shines Bright in Hollywood

Hollywood's "Prayer and Pasta" is a a spiritual home for young Catholics trying to make a difference in the entertainment industry. Usually held the third Wednesday of each month at Family Theater Productions offers on Sunset Bl., you will always find a crowd sharing scripture reflections and a potluck bowl of pasta.

And this Friday, Oct. 16, also at Family Theater Productions,the 44th Gabriel Awards will honor The Tale of Despereaux; The Express; Pray the Devil Back to Hell; Raising the Bar; Handy Manny, and Marathon Love. Actress Ann Blyth will accept the Gabriel Personal Achievement Award. KCRW Radio (Santa Monica) was named “Radio Station (Secular) of the Year.” The Gabriels honor industry professionals who produce films, television and radio programs, features and spot announcements that serve viewers and listeners through the positive, creative treatment of human concerns.

2010 "Try Prayer! It Works!" Contest Launched

Entries are now being accepted for the 2010 “Try Prayer! It Works!” Contest. Open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the 15th annual national competition sponsored by Family Rosary encourages children to express their faith through art, poetry and prose. Finally, we give you 9 Web sites that can make your life easier. From finding local goods to tracking gifts, these sites will definitely click with you.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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