Thursday, June 24, 2010

"No one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God"

"No one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God"
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (13C), June 27, 2010

BURNING QUESTION: Does God want you to be rich?
FEATURED STORY: "Discovering" or "Recovering" Catholics?
PASTORAL HISPANA: Haganios siempre la voluntad de Dios

Dear Friends,

Jesus is on the march and will not be turned back. He is fierce in Sunday’s Gospel, and sometimes the readings startle us. He “rebukes” the disciples. A man along the way wants to bury his father and then follow Jesus. But Jesus shouts, “Let the dead bury the dead.” He is moving fast, and his mood is intense. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Facing resolutely towards Jerusalem

Scholars call the first portion of Luke’s Gospel the “Galilean Ministry,” (Luke 3:1-9:50) which has been the subject of our scripture readings until this Sunday (except for the insertion of Lent and Easter). Now a new section of Luke begins, called the “Journey to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51-19:28).

In the opening words of today's Gospel, Luke clearly states where Jesus is headed. He is going up to Jerusalem where, as we heard predicted in last Sunday's Gospel, he will be put to death. Fr. Orly Sapuay, M.S. explains that going to Jerusalem for Jesus is, above all, the fulfillment of his mission as the one who brings peace to souls, beginning with his own.

"Follow Me"

Jesus calls to several people in the gospel story to follow Him. He is likewise calling us. At all costs, we must keep advancing. And, if we stumble and fall, we must like our Master pick ourselves up and move forward once again.

Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. says the first lesson for those who would travel with Jesus is to put aside all initiatives prompted by anger and prejudice. Fr. James Gilhooley points out that Discipleship is a total commitment, and Jesus wants us to know from the beginning that following him will lead to the crucifixion. If we would truly follow Him, says Father Cusick, then we must embrace His humility, expressed outwardly in His humble earthly circumstances.

Without a doubt, explains Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, Jesus speaks forcefully to us about the call to discipleship, of following him. Let us not mourn the impossibility of going back to the past, but eagerly move on to wherever Christ calls us. It is a challenge to be sure, suggests Dan Finucane, a student at Saint Louis University.

When Jesus speaks about those who are "fit" and those who are "not fit" for the kingdom of the God, Fr. Phil Bloom explains that our Lord will accept the tiniest step. But He will not rest until we have given Him all. Half-hearted discipleship simply will not be acceptable. Jesus is saying that Christianity (and Catholicism) are challenges, not just warm blankets. Jesus values God more than safe sleep, more than family funerals, even more than courtesy to family and friends, as Fr. John Foley reminds us.

And so as you walk the road of your life each day, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS asks us to be prepared. He says be ready for that day when Christ on that same road comes walking by and addresses you with those simple but deeply challenging words: 'Follow me!'

Second Reading: Paul to the Galatians

In this Sunday’s second reading, St. Paul says that the Flesh and the Spirit are directly opposed. Does that mean that he is squeamish about the fact that we have bodies? Are we to reject the physical dimension and try to live like angels? Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio explains.

And as the Fourth of July weekend approaches, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino saw in Paul's letter a reflection on our country and how we Americans give great weight to the law.

Understanding our Catholic Faith

Pope Benedict XVI pointed out this week that the doctrine of the Eucharist -- and its relevance for believers -- is not sufficiently understood and must be a catechetical priority. Echoing one of his predecessors, the Pope said all faithful children of the Church should be disciples of St. Thomas Aquinas, as he urged all to fall in love with the Eucharist.

Fr. John Bartunek, LC tackles the concept of indulgences and offers a most basic clarification: Salvation Is Not a Math Problem. It's one of the many Catholic beliefs that Protestants have had issues with. And Sacred Traditions is another one. Delving into the Protestant mindset, Mark Shea says that one basic rule of thumb to understand in Catholic/Protestant conversations is that it is not the case that Catholics rely on Sacred Tradition and Protestants don’t. Rather, Catholics rely on Sacred Tradition and know they do, while Protestants rely on (parts) of Sacred Tradition and (usually) don’t know they do.

Bringing Back our Fallen-away Young Adults

We also look into the generations-long exodus of our Catholic young adults away from our faith and how we can bring them back. A dissertation we encountered points out that most young adults who were raised Catholic don't experience choosing to practice the faith as "coming back" to something inherited from their parents at all. They experience it as a pioneer or convert does, discovering a new and amazing land for the first time. We'd be smarter to call these younger seekers "discovering" Catholics rather than "returning" Catholics. Because it is a difference that makes all the difference in how they approach the faith and what they ask of us.

Catholicism in the Middle East

In a recent, Bishop Joseph Coutts said it is increasingly hard to be a Catholic in a Muslim majority country. The bishop of the Faisalabad Diocese in Pakistan said Christians are often treated as second-class citizens in these countries.

But despite the discrimination, a new set of faces are reshaping Christianity in the region. The old communities may be becoming few and far between. But from Asia and Africa millions of new faithful are coming, mainly, to the Gulf and Saudi Arabia. Where, however, religious freedom is still a myth.

Sweet Surprises

Arwen Mosher lost her iPod Touch while we on vacation with her family. Then a sweet surprise came to her when she found it inside a FexEx box she received a few days later. A total stranger found it and returned it to her - even paying for the shipping. There's still a lot of good in our cynical world. The kindness of strangers prove it everyday.

And here's another sweet surprise: Toy Story 3. Fr. Longenecker is trained in film scriptwriting, thus he can be a harsh critic when viewing movies. But he says if you're going to see a movie this summer, go see Toy Story 3. For a Father's Day treat he saw it in 3-D at his local IMAX. It cost a lot, but he loved it so much he said he'd go again.

Finally, Danielle Bean tells us about a New Media Tool for Catholic Parents. She says the website helps parents navigate popular culture safelly and effectively. If you have children, check it out.

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. A blessed and happy Fathers Day to all dads.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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