Thursday, July 19, 2012

"They were like sheep without a shepherd."

You can imagine how the Apostles felt in this Sunday's Gospel for July 22, 2012. At first the sight of the large crowds thrilled them, but very quickly they got scared. What are we going to do with all these people? Well, we will find out next Sunday. This Sunday's Gospel sets the stage for Jesus' greatest revelation. It is so important that we will spend five Sundays on it. Please do not miss a single Sunday. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Rest a While

The gospels tell us that even Jesus was so busy at times that he didn't have time to eat. That's why there could be no better set of readings for the the summer than the ones placed before us today; especially the Gospel, with its emphasis on the disciples going away with Jesus to a lonely place to rest.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser quotes Thoreau, "Nothing can be more useful to a man than a determination not to be hurried." And the good father said it's not meant as something trivial. Fr. Joseph Pelligrino says we all have a need for quiet. We all have a need to be away from the noise of the world and be alone with the Lord. Jesus himself would seek out a quiet place to pray to the Father.

Father Cusick joins the discussion. He says perhaps the greatest sign that human creatures have ruptured their bond with the Creator of life is the increasing custom of working seven days a week. He says some people are forced to work seven days a week, and these people should seek to take the necessary time on Sundays to worship at Mass. But it is the great number who choose to work on Sunday with no thought of the commandment to rest that undermine their spiritual and physical well-being by disregarding the Creator's own instructions for the care and feeding of his own creatures.

Yes, take a holiday. Yes, get some rest. Yes, have a change of scene. But, no, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS qualifies, don’t take a holiday from God or your responsibilities. Here's the bottom line, Fr. Phil Bloom explains. After resting, a follower of Jesus does not go looking for distractions. Rather we return to Jesus, to reflect on what happened and to ask, what next?

But whatever Jesus said about resting in this Gospel story, the disciples certainly did not get any rest. When they arrived at the lonely place they discovered it was in fact a very crowded place. It was teeming with people who were seeking miracles and hungry for the Word of God. And, of course, Jesus takes pity on them and sets himself to teach them.

Like Sheep Without a Shepherd

The themes of sheep and shepherding flow though these Scripture readings. Fr. John Foley, S.J. points out how we see bad shepherds in the First Reading, and a good one in the Gospel (and Responsorial Psalm). The story helps us to focus on His ministry of teaching, reconciling and shepherding.

You can imagine how the apostles felt when thinking that they had gone somewhere out of the way for a rest found themselves surrounded by people. But this, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio points out, was a teaching moment. Our Lord wanted His interns to see that it is not about the shepherd’s needs. Shepherds exist to meet the sheep’s needs. These sheep were clueless about which direction to take in their lives and where to find food that would truly satisfy.

Maybe the reason the people flocked around was more because they wanted to see miracles and healings than to hear the Gospel preached to them. They were vulnerable, confused, and famished -- "like sheep without a shepherd. This, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains, is an accurate description of the spiritual lives of many 21st-century Christians in the world today. Many of our contemporaries are directionless, helpless, and very vulnerable to the seductions and attacks of the evil one. "Sheep without a shepherd" are more than just a little lost. They are facing danger and destruction.

But, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS observes, Jesus knew what the crowds really needed. He knew what will truly satisfy them –the Word of God. When Jesus notes that the people are like "sheep without a shepherd," he is saying, in effect, that they need to be reminded of the primacy of God's love in their lives and of the need to feel affirmed by that love. Ultimately, notes Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., it is this growing awareness of a powerful and loving One who asks us to come aside and bask in His Presence that truly makes life worthwhile.

Spiderman, God-Man & the Historical Gospel

Anyone who wishes to engage in a thoughtful and intelligent exploration of the Christian faith will have to ask whether the gospels are historically reliable. Fr. Dwight Longenecker admits that the gospels do not measure up to the standards of modern critical historical practice. They are the records of real events experienced by real people within the faith community following Jesus Christ. One of the key elements of this community’s belief was that astounding events really did happen within human history, and the gospel stories are the record of those events. Whether you choose to believe them or not is another matter altogether.

Which brings us to Spider-Man. Since 2002, there have been four major movie adaptations of the Marvel Comics story of a kid who gets bitten by a spider, undergoes a stunning metamorphosis, and then “catches thieves just like flies.” What is it about these stories—and the Spider Man tale in particular—that fascinate us? Fr. Robert Barron suggests that it has something to do with Christianity, more precisely, with the strange hybrid God-Man figure around which all of the Christian religion revolves.

And whether you are returning to the Catholic faith after being gone for some time or finally coming home to the Church from another denomination, how effectively we relay the message of our relationship with Jesus Christ is fundamental in how we authentically witness to others. Marlon De La Torre offers ten basic tips on sharing your Catholic faith with others.

Rosary, Satan, Hell & Forgiveness

Fr. Martin Fox shares with us that he was thinking about hell the other night. Does anyone like considering hell? Do you want to try to picture it? I know I don't. And what about the devil? It would be easy if Satan came as he is often portrayed, with horns and a pitchfork. We would naturally flee this ugliness. But, he often comes cloaked in beauty, in sheep’s clothing. Msgr. Charles Pope talks about the many disguises of Satan in the struggles of our everyday lives.

And one of these struggles could just be our inability to focus on prayer. When we struggle with praying the rosary, where should our attention be? Dan Burke says the simple answer is that your attention should be on God. And then we bring you the faith story of Arturo Martinez-Sanchez who says he had no choice but to forgive the man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing his wife and young daughter in an April 2012 attack that also left him seriously wounded. He says it was his Catholic faith that moved him to forgiveness.

Love, Marriage & Grandparents

The New York Times published this socially revealing story -- Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do.’ In the article, Jasin DeParle explains how Marriage increasingly means the difference between affluence and poverty. She follows the life of two female workers who are friends and boss-
employee to each other to make her point.

Ponder this. Have you ever freaked out on someone, only to ask yourself later what the heck happened? The offense just didn’t seem to warrant the kind of emotion you displayed, but you can’t quite understand why you got so upset. Rita Schulte teaches you how to chill out when your anger is hot. Related to this, Catholic Psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons observes that more marriages and families these days are affected by control and trust issues. How do we heal them? How do we overcome these problems? She says through the Sacraments and practice of virtue.

But we must also discuss one cold hard fact that need to be resolutely faced: sometimes love affairs must be broken up. And Fr. Gerald Kelly says it is seriously wrong to cultivate such a companionship with a married person, even though civilly "divorced." It is seriously wrong to prolong a companionship with a person who would in all likelihood have recourse to contraceptives after marriage. It is seriously wrong to put your own Faith or the Faith of your future children in jeopardy. And generally speaking, it is seriously wrong to enter marriage with a grave risk of substantial unhappiness, because normally we need at least substantial happiness in order to lead a good life.

And then we talk about grandparents and how they are called to save the faith. Rory Fitzgerald
Catherine founded the Catholic Grandparents Association in 2009. They’ve had Catholic events in England, Scotland, Australia, America and Tanzania. The acceptance of the organization shows that the importance of grandparents is now recognised at the highest levels of the Church.

Chick-fil-A's Stand on Biblical & Family Values

Dan Cathy oversees one of the country's most successful businesses. Chick-fil-A has 1,608 restaurants with sales of more than $4 billion dollars last year. They sell chicken and train employees to focus on values rooted in the Bible.

"We don't claim to be a Christian business," Cathy said recently. He talked about attending a business leadership conference many years ago. There he heard Christian businessman Fred Roach say, "There is no such thing as a Christian business." "That got my attention," Cathy said. Roach went on to say, "Christ never died for a corporation. He died for you and me." In that spirit, Cathy noted, Christianity is about a personal relationship. Companies, he added, are not lost or saved. But individuals certainly are.

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: What is the Communion of Saints?
FEATURED BLOG: Are the Gospels Historical?
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus desea que haya equilibrio

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1 comment:

  1. A brief introduction for the reasons why a person should or would want to be Catholic. An outline of the beliefs of the Catholic faithful. Catholics are optimists. Catholics do not believe that man is evil. Catholics believe that men sin, and that we are sinful, but that we were made in the image of God and thus we are inclined to the Good which is by definition God. We cannot be good without God's grace, but we have the free-will to readily accept or reject his offer of Grace.Robert Barnheiser