First Jesus showed us the narrow gate, then last Sunday He told us what specific key opens that gate. And now this Sunday - Sept. 8, 2013 - Jesus tells us what the key to heaven's door will cost. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.
A Gospel to Make you Squirm
Jesus drops a bomb—whoever wants to be his disciple must renounce everything, even family. Wait a minute! . . . I thought Christianity was all about loving your family, and everybody else, for that matter!? It makes one really wonder what to make of these words.
Fr. Phil Bloom explains that if you want to be a disciple of Jesus - which is the only path to heaven - know in advance what it will cost: everything. In the end you must be prepared to turn over all that you possess. This is an up-front requirement, explains Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio. If you are not willing to do this, don’t bother getting started as a disciple. As this gospel passage makes clear, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. tells us, there can be no waffling or temporizing where commitment to Christ is concerned. Therefore, all other considerations, such as the claims of relatives, friends or possessions, must be subordinated to the absolute claim of God on those who have discovered his love and mercy. If we are to accept the person of Christ, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB adds, we are to accept His cross as well.
So why did Jesus utter these hard sayings, so shocking to ancient and modern listeners? Fr. Orlando Sapuay, MS says to prepare His disciples for the reality that a being a disciple of Jesus will be difficult. We will be tempted to give up because the devil is waging war. We need to have a plan. But, as university student Caroline Seroka laments, we really have no understanding of what exactly God has planned for us. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says God has given us all intelligence. We need to use it to serve Him. Our plan therefore, he suggests, should be one that uses our God-given intelligence to strengthen our world with the dynamism of our Lord.
The attachment to material possessions
But again and again we come up against this unequivocal injunction of Jesus: None of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all of his possessions. We are again and again faced with the real challenge of these words. For whether we are rich or poor the attachment to material possessions is a real temptation. So ask yourself to answer honestly this burning question of the week: Do you adore "Bling" more than God?
Fr. Alex McAllister SDS advises us that we ought to regularly face the challenge and experience the discomfort that these words involve and make some personal decisions accordingly. He says we should in our prayer time frequently meditate on these words of Jesus and ask ourselves what does He really mean for me now. But prayer time in this iPhone-saddled world can be quite challenging as Joe Carter explains in "Unplugging the Info-Tech God." He recommends taking an “info-techno Sabbath” every Sunday, a 24-hour period when we turn off the cell phone, leave the iPad in the drawer, and stay away from the computer.
Meanwhile, Father Cusick suggests that Priesthood might be the most beautiful gift of a parent's love. If parents can respect and nurture the freedom of their children, then they might be radically generous to follow the Lord to whichever vocation He calls. So, we share with you the story of a family who did just that, answer the call to the priesthood. "My Brother the Priest" is their story.
To this end, we share with you the story of a Virginia couple. It is known that religious orders are reluctant to accept candidates who have substantial debt. So, student debt sometimes stops people from answering the vocation call. Corey Huber and his wife, Katherine, operate a public charity that helps aspiring religious faced with deferring their dreams in the face of debt. Check out their work.
The Real and Final Answer
Fr. John Foley, S. J. presents the real and final answer to the problems presented in the Readings. So just what is life about here on earth? It is about being humble, about loving others truly, and about loving God above all things. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. Pope Benedict affirmed this message last Sunday. Christ is the one who gives the strength to take on causes that dignify man and make great peoples, the Pope told young people, affirming to them that it is worthwhile to give oneself to such a mission.
And finally as we reflect on the seemingly harsh words of Jesus in our Gospel this week, we are reminded by Fr. Ron Rolheiser that God’s harshness is softer than our kindness and obedience in love is what sets us free.
Mother Teresa, the Blessed Mother & the Bible
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was born 100 years ago August 26. And Pope Benedict sent a message to all missionaries on this occassion. He said Mother Teresa of Calcutta was an "invaluable gift" for the world during her lifetime, and she continues to be so through the ministry of the order she founded. Meanwhile, Fr. Willy Raymond of Family Theater Productions sent us a film clip of the found in their archives of her and the late Father Patrick Peyton. We thought you might enjoy seeing the two of them - both sainthood candidates - together and the message they share on the power of family Rosary. Enjoy this special treat.
Here's an interesting history piece about the Our Lady of Perpetual Help icon. Taylor Marshall reports that it is a Byzantine icon from the late middle ages that has resided in Rome since the late 1400s. The Eastern Catholics call it "Holy Theotokos of the Passion." Today it is one of the few images that is universally revered in every rite of the Catholic Church - East to West. While Frank Weathers - from the Catholic Blog "Why I am Catholic" - gives one more solid reason he is Catholic. He loves the Bible, the entire Bible and every single book therein - including all the books that Martin Luther tossed out during the Protestant Reformation.
Catechesis, Homosexuality, the Unborn & the Eucharist
There is an estimated (at least) 350,000 Catholic Masses celebrated every day on planet Earth - by every race and nationality, and using every language. Matt Warner reminds us that every single one of these 350,000 Masses is actually doing exactly what Jesus asked when he said “Do this in memory of me.” That means there are 4 priests saying those precise words, “Do this in memory of me,” every single second of every single day. Now that is Communion!
Three years ago this week, then archbishop of Buenos Aires now Pope Francis I underlined the importance of the ministry of Catechesis, as a "pillar of the Church." He affirmed that "the renewal of pastoral care and of catechesis will not depend on great programs and structures, but on new men and women who embody this tradition and novelty, as disciples of Jesus Christ and missionaries of his Kingdom."
And part of this Catechesis is Church teaching on abortion and homosexuality - no matter how unpopular they may be today. In a reflection on Sunday's Second Reading from St. Paul, Fr. James Gilhooley likened today's issue of the unborn to slavery during St. Paul's time. Today's unborn are yesterday's slaves. Fight, lobby, and struggle for the unborn, he says.
Bryan Berry writes about Catholic teaching on Homosexuality and why he it isn't bigoted as detractors may say. He aptly points out that devout Muslims, evangelical Protestant Christians, many religious traditions, hold this very same Catholic position on homosexuality. What is bothersome to many individuals is that the Catholic Church doesn’t just hold it on religious grounds. The Catholic position is that this is something that is based on what the moral/natural-law tradition calls right reason.
September! How I love you
Paul Dion, STL thoughht he was old. Until he saw this hat on the pew in front of me just last week. When you read this story you will understand why he calls it "This Half-Pint Hat is All-Man, All 80 Years of Him."
The sour economy has brought many to their knees - some even to begging on street corners. Have you ever wondered what would happen if, instead of spare change, you handed a person in need the means to shop for whatever they needed? What would they buy? In New York City, an advertising executive handed over her American Express Platinum Card to a homeless Manhattan man after he had asked her for change. The man, who had been without home after losing a job, used the card to buy $25 worth of deodorant, water and cigarettes. And then he returned the card! Find out how the rest of the panhandlers in this experiment handled their unexpected windfall.
And finally we come to September. How we all just love it. There is something so magical and downright inspirational about September. It’s all about beginnings—it has forever meant the start of school, a return to structure, a fresh start. In the midst of celebrating September 1, Rachel Balducci found herself singing this little classic by Neil Diamond (gotta love Neil). And when she watched the video, she knew you would all want to see it as well. It’s really just too good to pass up, no? Enjoy this musical treat as we all welcome the month of September.
Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: Do we adore "Bling?" more than God?
FEATURED BLOG: Now This is Communion
PRIESTS STORIES: My Brother the Priest
PASTORAL HISPANA: ¿En qué consiste la libertad cristiana?
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