Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"There is need of only one thing."

Last week, the Parable of the Good Samaritan said more than "It's good to help people in need." This Sunday, July 21, 2012, Jesus continues to push the message with the story of Mary and Martha of Bethany, sisters of Lazarus, that teaches us about hospitality, Christian service, prayer, action and contemplation, and distraction. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Hospitality to God

I am sure by now you are all aware that in the scheme of readings presented to us in the Lectionary, the first reading and the Gospel are usually connected or linked in their content. This is nowhere clearer than this Sunday where the common theme is that of hospitality. Two stories about hospitality this week. Hospitality to God.

We see two sisters - Martha and Mary. They represent two different approaches to Jesus. You could say a lot about each of the sisters, but Fr. Phil Bloom expresses the difference this way: Martha wanted Jesus to listen to her, while Mary wanted to listen to Jesus.

Every Guest is Christ

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB calls it the Art of Biblical Hospitality. It's the one necessity in welcoming others into one's home or community is being present to them -- listening to what they have to say, as Mary does in Sunday's Gospel. So the question we have to ask, says Fr. Alex McAllister SDS, is whether we are the sort of person who makes the stranger welcome. This is a challenge we are presented with each day of our lives because each stranger could be Christ himself.

We are to find God in all things, in all the people we know and/or help. And, Fr. John Foley, S. J. tells us, no matter how busy we might be, we must relate to them because God is within them, deep in their souls. Touch them, hear them. Prepare meals for them without forgetting them. We will be giving hospitality to God himself. In other words, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB suggests, our love must become incarnate in whatever we do to meet the needs of others. Thus, our good work--whether cooking a meal or voting for a bill in congress--becomes a sacrament or an effective sign of our self-giving love.

The Heresy of Good Works

Fr. Orlando, Sapuay, M.S. points out perfectly that the question is not what we can give or offer but how can we be for God and each other. But, the trap, Fr. James Gilhooley explains, it to be seduced to what is called the heresy of good works. In our eagerness to do what we think is God's work, we neglect Jesus' company. Our prayer life grinds to a screeching halt and goes off the boards.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains that Jesus really cannot be merely a part of one’s life, but must be the center of one’s life. It does not mean that our life can’t be full of activities. Like Martha, Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us, we long for many things and are both buoyed up and fatigued by our own insatiable energies. But unless we preserve some quiet time each day to sit at his feet as did Mary, our action will become distraction and we’ll be as snappy and unhappy as Martha.

University student Rachel Dratnol admits to the reality that while she is willing to elp herself, there is only so much she can do on her own. There is something – someone – much more important. And that someone is God. And in a reflection on the second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino points out that Paul speaks about a mystery, “a mystery that has been hidden for ages is now manifested to God’s Holy Ones. The mystery is this: Christ is in you.”

Morality & Technology

The threats are numerous when we use technology, yet so many people are not even aware there is any threat present. As Catholics we need to be wary of using any technology and understand that while most tech is morally neutral it can be used for good or bad. We need to tread the Moral Minefield of Technology carefully.

Bishop Gabino Zavala, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Communications Committee, added to the technology discussion last month when he spoke at the annual Catholic Media Association convention. He expressed particular concerns about Catholic blogs that engage in attacks and hurtful, judgmental language. He said, "We are very troubled by blogs and other elements of media that assume the role of Magisterium and judge others in the Church. Such actions shatter the communion of the Church that we hold so precious.”

Catholic blogger Eric Sammons points out the dangers of a rising trend in Evangelical churches these days: pastors preaching to multiple congregations through hi-def technology. He points out two real problems: (1) it encourages a cult of personality around the pastor, and (2) it diminishes the sacramental nature of Christianity. While this technology practice has not aggressively landed inside our Catholic circles, these two problems he raised are already starting to become real concerns within some of our own Catholic parishes.

Catholic Marriage, Encyclicals, Clericalism & More

In "Father Knows Best?" The underlying problem with clericalism is dicussed by Fr. Longenecker from a different angle - the psychological. What exactly is going on in a parish when the dog collar rules? What is happening when excessive clericalism takes root? This story offers a very insightful look at spiritual maturity. And in an effort o help clarify what the Catholic Church teaches, Gary Zimak has compiled a list of 10 important facts that every Catholic should know - but don't! More than simply Catholic trivia, these are important concepts that can help us to better understand and defend our beliefs.

From Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin talks about "Godparents: Helpers on the Road of Faith." Supporting parents in the practice of the faith is the particular responsibility of the godparents of the child being baptized. Sometimes however, he laments, it seems that the role of godparents is not properly understood, even by practicing Catholics. And from San Marcos, CA, a theology professor used Pope Benedict's latest encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" to challenge his high seniors to understand that "Encyclicals Aren't Just for Theologians." And they exceeded his expectations!

Is A Lack Of Love Causing You To Get Sick?

Bo Sanchez asks, "Do you know why so many people are sick?" He said it's because their relationships are poisoning them. So many people are starving for love. But all they get is poison. He offers sage Christian living advice.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Is Superstition a sin? FEATURED BLOG: Hi-def Technology vs. Sacramental Theology
PASTORAL HISPANA: Encontrar a Dios en la Oracion y en la Accion
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