Thursday, September 27, 2012

"For whoever is not against us is for us."

This Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, the disciples thought that healing in the Lord’s name is reserved exclusively for them. Thus, they attempted to stop a “stranger” from casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

"Whoever is not against us is for us."

Christ's principle that “whoever is not against us is for us” is clearly stated in these Readings. It shows His open-mindedness and all-embracing attitude towards people. Fr. Omer Prieto says this is Jesus’ vision of God’s Kingdom, where all people of goodwill are invited to participate, because God is the Father of all.

But God is surely free to work outside of our familiar religious structures also. What it means, explains Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., is that we should work in genuine humility to make our own religious structures as open as possible to the saving power of God. So what should our relationship be with authentic Christians who are not Catholic? We treat our non-Catholic brothers and sisters with deep respect because, as Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says, we recognize that God can and does speak through them as He can and does speak through us.

The Church is the Body of Christ and the other Christian denominations are an authentic part of the Church. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS tells us that the way ahead to a fuller unity is through friendship and dialogue. But while he says it is perfectly correct for us to join non-Catholics in prayer and in support, it is incorrect for us to reject our Catholicism. If we have been admitted to the Eucharist, and we have, we cannot reject the Gift of the Eucharist.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin . . ."

Fr. Ron Rolheiser reminds us that our children are not ours, they are God's children. In the end, we are only their guardians, all of us. God is the real parent and God's love, care, and anxiety for them will always be in excess of our own.

Moreover, the “little ones” that the Lord was referring to here were the poor common folk, unsophisticated and often marginalized, who took great comfort in the message of the Lord and the hope it offered them. They were the “outsiders” during his time when Jewish culture was influenced largely by the rich and the powerful. Jesus Christ is declaring that humility, such is found in a very small child is a requisite for greatness.

Truly God’s blessing is upon the meek, Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS explains. But just how can we strike a balance between being humble and meek, and assertive enough to succeed in the world today? In living just and upright lives, we can do a good job as a humble leader. But, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB adds, that is different from being able to succeed and being placed in greater positions of responsibility.

"A great millstone were put around his neck..."

Cutting off hands and feet and plucking out eyes are basically self-mutilation. They are repugnant to believers. The point is not to take these sayings literally. John Bergsma points out that even the saints have not made a practice of self-amputation. It is because as our Lord's teaching from earlier in Mark says, the cause of sin is not in our physical appendages.

Fr. Rich Lifrak, SS.CC says Jesus' words, to be sure, were sharper, but perhaps that was simply a means to reach listeners who were stubborn and hardhearted. But, they certainly grab our attention. And, in doing so, they demonstrate how seriously Jesus took the issue of sin. Specifically with the sin of scandal - causing others to sin. It is, Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA points out, a grim warning against those who would lead astray any of the" little ones" who believe in our
Lord. It is a discourse about the reality of Hell. And that, Fr. Phil Bloom admits, is a topic that most preachers would gladly avoid. Still, we cannot faithfully represent Jesus and not speak about Hell because He spoke about it often.

The Spirit of God chooses to dwell in our interior depths. Fr. John Foley, S. J. says this is because within the deep interior is a place in us that is made in God’s image. Jesus invites us to come to Him. But the one thing He will not do is to take away our freedom. That would destroy our essence. God does not want to fill heaven with robots. He desires souls.

Liturgy, Prayer and the Archangels

Benedict XVI this Sunday opened the next chapter in his ongoing catechesis on prayer, moving from reflections on prayer drawn from Scripture to another "precious 'space,' another precious 'source' for growing in prayer, a fount of living water in close relationship with the former": the liturgy.

Dr. Scott Hahn shares a very important video discourse on the liturgy, why we call the Cross a sacrifice and the implications of Christ’s command to “Do this” at the Last Supper. Listen closely and you’ll never view the New Testament the same way again. If you want to understand the Crucifixion of Jesus, you first have to understand this. Meanwhile, Sr. Theresa Noble posits that in order to really live the power of the indwelling of the Trinity within us, it must become something we know on a deeper level. Here are some things that she suggests we do to grow in our understanding of this mystery.

And this Saturday, September 29, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the three Archangels who have been venerated throughout the history of the Church. They are Michael (from the Hebrew Who Is Like God?), who defends the friends of God against Satan and all his evil angels; Gabriel (the Power of God), chosen by the Creator to announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation; and Raphael (the Medicine of God or God Heals), the archangel who, in the book of Tobit, takes care of Tobias on his journey.

Abortion, Marriage & Contraception

As Catholic Christians we understand a “hierarchy” of sins. We know the difference between venial and mortal sins. So when the Church invokes such language as “intrinsic evil” when referring to abortion, we are supposed to sit up and take note. It can’t be thrown in the same pile as a lack of social justice or the ways we may be failing some of our brothers and sisters.

Paul Dion, STL notes how these days, we talk about abortion with such a cavalier attitude and such a "health-care" detached tone, as though abortion was nothing more than tonsillitis. He discusses the issue in light of thalidomide, rape and God. Also, our related Burning Question this week is relevant to the currently swirling political discussions: Does the Church allow abortion if the mother's life is at risk?

Also, nobody is pretending that hordes of Catholics don’t dissent from their Church’s “thou shalt not” regarding contraception. What we don’t know is why practising Catholics who do go to Mass—and even, if only occasionally, to confession—also feel entitled to reject Church teaching. Carolyn Moynihan explores. Meanwhile Archbishop John Joseph Myers, Archdiocese of Newark, offers "A Pastoral Teaching on the Definition, Purpose and Sanctity of Marriage." He urged Catholics to vote "in defense of marriage and life," and warns that the passage of same-sex marriage laws might lead to a government crackdown on their religious freedoms.

Catholics and Election 2012

Cheryl Dickow thinks it is a tremendous responsibility to be a Catholic woman voter this year. And I say her statement applies to us men as well. She shares Bl. John Paul's insight that we all rise confidently and compassionately to the challenge that is before us and, imbued with the Gospel, do our part to aiding humanity in not falling.

Let's talk now about the two traps that Catholics often fall into when talking about politics. They are: (a) acting as if their own candidate is immaculate, or (b) acting as if all the candidates are equally bad, from a Catholic point of view. Neither of these are true. Every candidate is flawed, but some flaws (like support for abortion and euthanasia) are objectively worse, and simply indefensible.

Related to this, Joe Heschmeyer presents from a Catholic (rather than a partisan) perspective, is what the Church actually teaches about when it is, and isn’t, okay for a Catholic to disagree with a Church teaching. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio aptly reminds us that God is not political. He will welcome virtuous action by anyone, regardless of how imperfect their doctrine, how flawed their character and who they hang around with. But, while many may assert that they will answer to no one, the truth is we will all answer to God. Yes, Msgr. Charles Pope tells us, we will render an account for what we have done.

Girls and LOLz

Girls Just Want to Have Fun! A gorgeous jacket caught Cheryl Dickow's eye as she was flipping through an issue of a fashion magazine. Covered in an animal print, the jacket caused the 54-year-old Cheryl to rediscover that fun isn’t just for the young but, as they say, for the young at heart.

And finally, Micah Murphy remembers distinctly from her time at Steubenville one particular phrase used by Professor James Pauley: “Always hit up the LOLz.” Students would ask, "What?” And he would reply “The Little Old Ladies. They pray. A lot. Make them pray for you.” And it was a recent conversation on the Facebook wall of a priest friend reminded her of this quote and the many types of LOLz she has encountered over the years. So why not make a catalog? She prepared an amusing and light-hearted outline of several different categories of LOLz in the Church today.

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: Does the Church allow abortion if the mother's life is at risk?
FEATURED BLOG: 10 Incredible & FREE Resources for Catechists
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus nos habla acerca de cuidarnos del escándalo

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing with us your wisdom.

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