Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"You cannot serve God and mammon."

The Gospel set before us this Sunday (8A), March 2, 2014, continues Christ's teaching as given in the Sermon on the Mount. The extract is all about Divine Providence. Jesus does not deny the reality of human needs, but forbids making them the object of anxious care and, in effect, becoming their slave. In our modern consumerist society, it is a teaching that is frequently neglected - even by devout Christians.  Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

"You cannot serve God and mammon."

Jesus lays it on the line. Mammon means more than simply money. The word comes from a Hebrew root that means "to entrust" - like today we speak about credit, trust funds and bonds. Mammon came to mean "that in which a man places his trust." It became a substitute for God, an idol, a false god. Fr. Charles Irvin says we must not love the things of this world to the exclusion of the love of God.

But as followers of Jesus, we recognize that we do have legitimate concerns for material goods. But if those concerns are filled with insecurities and cause new forms of enslavement to wealth, they will inevitably lead people into slavery to two separate masters. Maybe we are spending our lives on what is of small value: what we will eat, what we will wear, how long we will live. Fr. John Foley, S. J. reminds us that these things do not last. They are too far down the scale of values.

Set your values on what is most valuable and you will find peace. We are called to serve God and God alone in the deepest sense in order to experience authentic freedom, explains Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB. And Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says Jesus is helping us understand that our faith should be in God alone. God will provide for those who depend on Him.

Putting our Trust in God

Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. points out the one thing Jesus identifies as a sign we are clinging to a false god. A person devoted to an idol becomes consumed with worry. Our hearts are restless because we worry about tomorrow, we fear what might happen or we think that only in some future time we will be happy.

The bottom line is that we are to trust in God to provide. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino tells us we should not base our trust on our money. He says this Gospel teaching is an accurate demonstration of the faith we must nurture: "Don't worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Seek first God's kingdom over you and his way of holiness, and all will be given you." Fr. Phil Bloom says Jesus invites us to trust in God, to serve him now. "Only in God is my soul at rest..."

College student reflects that maybe we don’t have to worry so much about the little details and fear for the worst. I mean, if the birds don’t worry why should I? God provides. Fr. Ron Rolheiser reminds us that Christ promised that we will not be orphaned. And we can take that at face value.

This Sunday we can pray for a deeper commitment to God for ourselves and for others. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB says we can ask for a trust that sustains us every day and a commitment that is clearly choosing God. Even if we do not receive those gifts immediately, praying for them is on the way of peace.

Pride, Prayer and Babel

So what are you building in your lfe? Msgr. Charles Pope offers a meditation on the story of the Tower of Babel. The lessons to be learned can mirror those of our Sunday Gospel's. It is a memorable story for most. And yet he points out that it has a strange angularity to it.

Paul Dion, STL shares in his reflection that making mistakes and being wrong is not always a bad thing. This is not anathema as he repeats the story of Thomas Edison who, after failing to make a working light bulb for what is reported as being hundreds of times always referred to his ineffective attempts as "lessons of how not to do it the next time."

Jennifer Fulwiler shares a section from St. Frances de Sales Introduction to the Devout Life where he offers four practical tips for putting yourself in God’s presence. With Lent approaching, I thought this might be a good section to cover since many of us are thinking about how we can improve our prayer lives.

For non-Catholics who are considering crossing the Tiber, sensing and answering the call to convert to Catholicism is a tremendous decision on many levels. Chris Findley, a convert himself, discusses the challenges and graces of conversion and offers valuable advise in the form of 10 things you should expect as a new convert. While Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio offers a homily from the 5th century given by Pope St. Leo the Great, one of the early Church Fathers on a topic that's a stumbling block for many Protestants: St. Peter and the Keys.

Eucharistic Adoration & New Age Gnosticism

We look back to Archbishop Thomas Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami who tackled a most important topic today: New Age Gnosticism. One can go to almost any commercial bookstore and discover whole sections devoted to the theme. Unfortunately, he says, most of what sells as “spiritual reading,” usually classified under the heading of “New Age,” does not demand any more faith or belief than going to the movies. Not all that is marketed under the rubric “spirituality” is “chicken soup” for the Christian soul.

We contrast this trend to New Age spirituality with the story of how one dismal parish became a church on fire. Their secret? Eucharistic Adoration! They were facing tough times. The congregation was dwindling, and Mass attendance was at an all-time low. The empty confessional was collecting dust, and donations were dismal. But today, it is one of the most vibrant parishes in their diocese with standing-room only Masses, confessional lines, and an abundance of freewill donations that will make them debt-free by April.

Saying Yes, Styling and the Oscar Weekend

Jenifer Fulwiler reflects on a fantastic blog post she read which suggests that the secret to an extraordinary life is simply saying YES. It got her to thinking about other people she admires who said yes when they could ahve said no.

Judith Costello's Mysteries of Parenting blogs about how children (and adults) sometimes wear name brand clothing as a badge of honor. Her daughter was nine, when she came home comparing her clothes to those of a friend at school. Her daughter Brigit felt discouraged because there were no flashy labels on her clothes. But the truth is many of Brigit's favorite clothes come from the thrift store or yard sales, the kind of places some children are taught that only "lower class people enter." I will let her tell you how this story ended. It's most appropriate to the lessons of the Gospel for this Sunday.

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: Do you adore "Bling?" more than God?
FEATURED BLOG: One Parish That's On Fire & How They Did It
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesús nos invita a poner nuestra confianza en el Padre Celestial

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