Thursday, October 2, 2014

"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone"

We are back in the vineyard again this Sunday, October 5, 2014, immersed in another of Matthew's complex Gospel parables. Sunday's Gospel parable is often called the parable of the wicked tenants. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Jesus told these parables in answer to the question: "What is the kingdom of God like?" As in all parables and lessons of the vineyard, the landowner is God. Once again, Jesus was talking about the religious leaders and elders of Israel, who are the tenants, in this parable. But this, Fr. Alex McAllister, SDS points out, was no afternoon exchange of pleasantries. No this was an out-and-out confrontation with the elders asking Jesus, "What authority do you have for acting like this?"

Respect Life Sunday

The parable tells us that we must exercise stewardship over Gods’ gifts to us in a responsible manner. It also tells us how God relates to us. And one of the main gifts we have from God, explains Fr. James Gilhooley, is the gift of life for which we are responsible. This is a  most appropriate message for this weekend because Sunday is Respect Life Sunday, the start of a month-long period when Catholics across the nation join together to witness to the inherent equality and transcendent value of every human being.

Fr. John J. Ludvik tells us that too many are like the tenants who refused to share their grapes or their wine with others, who do nothing about stewardship or protecting life from conception to old age, and so many areas in between. The Bible teaches that life is a gift of God and hence we have to respect it from womb to tomb. And all of life is a blessing!

Related to this, the US Bishops Conference have spoken out against mandating contraception and sterilization insurance coverage that could cause the ‘persecution’ of Catholic institutions. They urge all Catholics to do likewise as the deadline for implementation looms.

The Lord Will Never Abandon His Vineyard - the Church

Matthew masterfully transforms this Sunday's allegorical parable into a rich account of salvation history. The parable of the wicked tenants reminds us once again that we cannot control God's continuous merciful outreach to others. Thomas Rosica, CSB says it compels us to look at our lives, our attitudes and actions, in light of whether they are an embrace or rejection of Jesus' saving message. This message was emphasized by Pope Benedict this week as he challenged young people to “dare to be glowing saints, in whose eyes and hearts the love of Christ beams and who thus bring light to the world.”

Therefore the prayer of our liturgy this Sunday, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. explains, is that we may receive the grace to open our hearts to the prophetic voice of Jesus and become a people who produce abundant good fruit in accord with God's will. But while we are all asked to be children of the Church, Father Cusick is steadfast in reminding us that there is no salvation outside of the Church for those who commit apostasy - those who deny their Catholic faith once having truly understood and embraced the Faith. To reject the true Church and her orthodox teaching is to reject Christ and His Salvation, for all graces by which he saves us come through His bride: the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

In the Midst of Troubles

In the beginning of the second reading St. Paul said, “Be anxious about nothing, but bring everything to God, through prayer and supplication united to thanksgiving. And then the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In the midst of troubles, St. Paul is telling us not to have any anxiety at all. How did St. Paul overcome anxiety? Fr. Phil Bloom says St. Paul's prescription comes in two parts. First, prayer - putting our troubles in God's hand - making our requests known to him. And the second part of the prescription is thanksgiving. If we seek happiness where God is present, we do not need to be anxious.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. reminds us of America's national anxiety in his reflection. Many assume America will last forever. But we are not invulnerable, as September 11 and Katrina have reminded us. If we continue to yield sour grapes, our walls too will come tumbling down. Yet St. Paul speaks of a “peace that passes all understanding.” Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says this is so because we possess Jesus Christ. And He is all we will ever need. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding comes upon us, dwells in us, and is our treasure. And it’s ours for the asking.

The Stone Rejected By the Builders

There is much, much more in the Gospel. And Jesus hints at this after he has told the story: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes."

This new metaphor is the key to the Gospel tale, which fills it with dramatic new meaning. Fr. John Foley, S. J. tells us that Jesus is the son sent into the vineyard. He is to be rejected and killed, just as the prophets and the owner’s son were.  God sent his own son into the trap of human life not because life is perfect, but because love is. The crucified one, adds Fr. Ron Rolheiser, is the stone rejected by the builders, the one deemed expendable so that normal life will not be disrupted. But the crucified one is also God. Jesus the Christ  is what He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Fr. James Gilhooley says He is none other than the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

There is a special intimacy with God that can be had only in standing, as did Mary and John, near the cross, in solidarity with the crucified one. College student Megan Diestelmeier says it is up to us to choose to see through God’s eyes. It is up to us to choose to live with compassion, and see the dignity and worth of everyone around us, and love them all.

Martin Luther, the Pope and Catholic "Rules"

“Martin Luther” is not a popular figure in most Catholic circles. Understandably so. Most Catholics who think about Luther at all, hold him responsible for the dividing of Christendom and the problem of ongoing Christian disunity. Yest when it comes to ecumenism, Mark Brumley reports that the most important point for Pope Benedict is that we keep in view our common ground as Christians. But we shouldn't stop there.

The problem of evil cannot be solved through debate. Rather, adds Taylor Marshall, it won't be solved "until I go into the sanctuary of God." We are to follow the example set by King David in the Old Testament. Go to Church, kneel before the crucified Savior in the tabernacle and open our hearts. The Holy Father calls us to be an evangelizing presence in the world. We must allow God’s grace to transform a generation that at times seems to be lost. In other words, Leon Suprenant reminds us, let's be Catholic!

Mark Shea recalls a while back, how the Mainstream Media (MSM) got itself all in a tizzy about “the Vatican” supposedly issuing “seven new deadly sins.” What was absent from the misguided conversation thread that followed was any concept of life in Christ as a relationship. They chose to focus instead on the rules, as if they were written on a card and magnetized to the refrigerator. Luckily for Jennifer Fulwiler, she's learned a lot by talking through these kinds of thoughts with her confessors and spiritual directors. She shares the four simple rules she learned from them that act as a safeguard to prevent too much worldliness from creeping into her daily life.

Omar F. A. Gutierrez uses St. Vincent de Paul as a great example citing what Chesterton once said about the saint. The difference between a sinner and saint is not that the saint doesn’t sin. The difference is that the saint knows they’re a sinner.

In These Tough Economic Times

For Tim Drake, and for the many others suffering around the country, it's been a tough summer financially. His Buick unexpectedly died and had to be replaced. His pneumonia led to unexpected doctor’s bills. His riding lawnmower bit the dust. As the primary provider for our family, he has tried to shield his children from this reality as best I can, but they’ve still felt the results. Then on his birthday, his young son gifted him with something he will never ever forget - it's the $6.15 Christ.

And maybe we need to look to our grandfather's generation for guidance during these hard times. Their generation wasn’t perfect. They had their own set of flaws and weaknesses. But they got a lot of things right. And one of those things is how to handle your finances. Here's "4 Personal Finance Principles That Would Make Your Grandfather Proud."

Finally, Eric Porteous gives us his interview with NFL Quarterback and 3-time Pro Bowler, Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers. A fellow Catholic, Rivers discusses Faith as an NFL player, the importance of Mass and the Sacraments, temptation, Natural Family Planning and trash-talking as a Christian. Even if you’re not a football fan, you need to read this.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed and happy new week to all.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Should Catholics Join Non-Catholic Bible Studies?
FEATURED BLOG: The Pope, Martin Luther, and Our Time
PASTORAL HISPANA: El regalo de la fe es para compartirlo

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