Pastoral Sharings: 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

WeeklyMessageDemetrius R. Dumm, OSB

June 16,2013
Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 7:36-8:3

Gospel Summary

Luke’s gospel is notable for its portrayal of Jesus as one who represents the compassion and forgiveness of God. No doubt this sensitivity of Luke for the generous nature of Jesus came from his own experience as a native of the city of Antioch where he noted the extremes of wealth and poverty and where he noted also that the rich tended to be self-righteous and judgmental and therefore to assume that the poor were sinful just because they were poor.

In this gospel story, Luke draws a sharp contrast between the smug and self-righteous Pharisee who keeps all the rules but does not have the sensitivity to perform the basic acts of kindness toward a guest and the woman who has a reputation for sinfulness but who receives Jesus with loving service. The woman’s reputation for sinfulness could be no more than her inability to keep all the prescriptions of the Law due to her poverty. However that may be, there is no doubt that she understands the importance of loving service just as the Pharisee is totally devoid of such sensitivity.

Jesus makes his point by telling a story about two debtors who owed very different amounts but who were both forgiven. The one who was forgiven more was more likely to be more grateful and loving also, We all need to be forgiven at one time or another, and God is more than ready to forgive us also, but the consequence should be loving gratitude and better behavior in the future and especially more ready to forgive others.

Life Implications

Since it is so difficult to be consistently loving and forgiving persons, we are tempted to take care of the appearances only and thereby to acquire a reputation for virtuous living as we continue to indulge our tendency to be judgmental and unforgiving. I had occasion one time to give a homily on the gospel story about the Pharisee and the publican. To make my point more forcefully, I tried to describe what Pharisees would look like if they were living today in one of our parishes. I noted, for example, that they would certainly attend Mass on Sunday but, on the way home, they would not hesitate to do a critical and negative assessment of other people they had seen at Mass. After the Mass, a man came to the sacristy and said to me: “Father, I think I may be a Pharisee.” I was at a loss to respond at first but then I said to him: “My friend, take courage. What you have just said is something that a real Pharisee would never say!”

It is indeed laudable to attend Mass and to take seriously all the rules of good Christian conduct, but all of this careful observance can be spoiled if it is not accompanied by a genuine spirit of love and forgiveness
Demetrius R. Dumm, OSB.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 16
, 2013

Eleventh Sunday: A Love Infinitely More Powerful than Our Sins
AARP just won’t give me a break!  Every few weeks I get notices taking it for granted that I should be joining them.  I neither need nor want their rotten Modern Maturity magazine.  And they can keep their lousy discounts because I don’t follow most of their politics and don’t want to be numbered with them. Besides, I’m not that old yet.   If you consider the life spans of giant turtles,  I’m only early middle-aged. Granted, there are a lot of things that I can’t do anymore, like scuba dive, or play tennis, or run, but I still am young enough to do a lot of other things.  I can change the TV channel without even using a remote.  I am also adroit at putting DVD’s into the player. AARP needs to leave me alone.

The Gospel of Forgiveness
“There are two types of people in the world. The first are those who bounce into a room and shout, ‘Rejoice, I am here.’ The second are those who come into the same room and exclaim, ‘Ah, there you are.” So has a pundit written correctly about us. Simon the Pharisee is the former. The woman sinner is the latter.

Clearly Luke was not a male chauvinist. No one speaks more favorably or more often than he about women with the exception of his Master. His work is properly called the Gospel of Women.

What David Did Not Say
Message: We have all sinned. Like David we face a choice. We can try to justify ourselves. Shift the blame. Say nobody can tell me what to do. Those things lead to death. Or like David – or the woman in today’s Gospel – admit the simple truth, “I have sinned.”

Before I give this homily I want to wish all our dads a Happy Father’s Day. I am praying for the dads in this congregation, those who are at a distance from us and those who have gone to the Lord. I am also praying for those who, like myself, are striving to be spiritual fathers. We will have a blessing at the end of Mass for all dads present.

What it means to call God ‘Father’
As soon as we hear the words, we know what follows: “… who art in heaven …” It is second nature, for the Lord’s Prayer is, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “the fundamental Christian prayer” (No. 2759). It is both “the summary of the whole Gospel” (No. 2761) and “the center of this proclamation” of the Gospel (No. 2763). But our familiarity with it should not dull us to just how astounding it is that we call God — the Creator, King and Lord of all that exists, seen and unseen — our Father.

The Pope is Showing Us the Way
If anyone thinks that Pope Francis is going to gradually lose his momentum and zeal to preach the Gospel as successor of Saint Peter, they are very much mistaken. Consider the invitation to his 1.4 billion-member flock — a first in Church history — to simultaneously join him in one hour of Eucharistic Adoration last Sunday. He wanted the Church to place its focus on Jesus, the source and summit of our Faith. Jesus is the source of all we do and will accomplish.

Pope’s General Audience: God’s goodness is stronger than any evil!
During his weekly general audience, Pope Francis talked about the mission of the Church, describing it as the People of God. In his catechesis on the Creed, he explained that through Baptism, one is called to transmit God’s love, hope and joy to others.

Ordinary Time Needs Extraordinary Faith
The Church is back in Ordinary Time on its liturgical calendar. For a lot of people (including myself) there are a lot things about the Church that are hard to comprehend, but calling this time of the year ‘ordinary’ sounds not only a no-brainer but also appropriate. With the pains of Good Friday completely healed and with very little of the joy from the Resurrection left over, things has become rather ordinary at the church these days. Even Walmart knows this – they usually wait until after the July4th weekend to put out the Christmas decorations. It is as if the Church has given a free pass to all its followers to go and do other things without worrying much about penance and other obligations. After all, we all believe in taking breaks; so how can an average believer (that would be me, again) be at fault for assuming that Ordinary Time is the Church’s way of telling its followers to take a break!

Christ and His Church: It’s a Package Deal
Over the past few months I have been struck by the number of times Pope Francis has reminded us of the indivisible relationship and union between Christ and his Church. On several of these instances he has quoted a passage that I have become familiar with over the years. It is taken from Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation, On Evangelization in the Modern World:

What Will We Do in Heaven?
What will we do there? This is probably the wrong question, but it’s the first question that comes to mind – unless we envision Heaven as something analogous to laying on the beach and “catching rays” or existing in the rarified company of pure contemplatives.

Most of us are involved in doing things, and a lot of us really enjoy them.  I enjoy playing the piano, my wife puttering in the garden, my daughter the midwife helping deliver babies. But there won’t be any pianos, gardens needing work, ladies in labor, etc. in heaven. No harps, either – just to eliminate that stereotype.

So wouldn’t it be helpful to us mortals to have a somewhat reliable image of what our state might be, if and when we get there?

What is the Kingdom of God?
Sometimes we can mistake our familiarity with a term or phrase with our understanding of it. If you’re not terribly sure what is meant by the Kingdom of God, then keep reading.

Did you know that the phrase, “Kingdom of God” occurs 122 times in the New Testament?

How to Drive Away Temptation
The Christian life is one of constant spiritual struggle.  As pilgrims in exile, as it were, Christians find their souls in a strange world, one in which temptation is an ever-present reality in forms seemingly small to blatantly grave. 

When temptation to sin inevitably comes in our daily lives, there is one way in which I have found to be effective in combatting it, and this is the Jesus Prayer.  Even one recitation of the prayer is enough to almost make the soul do an about-face, and send it running back to Christ, because the Name of Jesus is the Name that evil cannot tolerate.

Somebody is praying for you! Priests and the ministry of prayer
Ordination season is upon us now and a new group of men are being ordained all over the country. Never forget how necessary priests are not just in the obvious and external ways but also in more hidden ways.

What Is the Difference Between Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design?
Creationism, Evolutionism, and Intelligent Design are three of the major positions on the question of how we got here.

What’s the difference between these positions?

That seemingly straightforward question proves surprisingly controversial.

Let’s take a look at it . . .

How does a person accept God’s mercy?
Q: Dear Father John, I am helping a woman in her spiritual growth (mainly through helping her come up with a program of life), and something came up that I wanted to ask you about. She has shared with me some of what she regrets, and some of what she is having a hard time forgiving herself for. Intellectually she knows that God forgives, but she hasn’t accepted His mercy into her heart. I am guessing that this resistance is a manifestation of spiritual pride. Is that correct? And what virtues would help her overcome this? Abandonment? Humility? Mercy?

The Rights of Error and the Death of Tolerance
Many years ago I was a guest on a national radio show to discuss one of my books. I forget which one, but I vividly remember an encounter I had with a listener who called the program. He was clearly upset that I was offering reasons for the sanctity of unborn human life, that I was explaining in some detail why I believe that the preborn human being has a personal nature and that abortion is unjustified homicide.

Five Important Lessons from Saint Joseph
As the father of a teenager with high-functioning autism, I am sometimes challenged to give my oldest child the focus and patience he needs from me.  I frequently feel inadequate when I advise and guide my 12 year old son through the minefields of today’s culture.  My loving wife should expect my best efforts as a husband, yet I often feel distracted or too worn out to give her the 100% she deserves.  With Father’s Day fast approaching, I have recognized for several weeks that I needed to make a course correction and get back on track.

Marriage is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
In my previous article I outlined a hypothetical and all too common scenario observed among young couples today. Decisions made early in their relationship can have an impact on their future marriage. How can we effectively help our young couples achieve happy, faithful, lifelong marriages?

The Sheer Joy of Fatherhood
Recently I ran into my former advisor at Texas A&M University whom I hadn’t seen for nearly a decade. While I held my son Thomas in my arms, I shared with him the details of my pro-life work for Human Life International. He beamed, looked at Thomas and said, “Looks like you are doing some great pro-life work right there.”

While I had immediately focused on my professional life, his nod toward my son was a generous reminder that the greatest work in which I and every other father engages is found in our vocation as husband and father.

Review of Father Dwight Longenecker’s Book; Catholicism Pure & Simple
For those accustomed to Father Dwight Longenecker’s pithy and insightful blog posts, the thought of reading one of his books leaves us some questions, namely will it be like his blog? Thankfully the answer is yes. Somehow Father Longenecker is able to transfer his tactful writing abilities to the printed page or electronic device (whichever you prefer.)
I would recommend this book not only for those folks interested in Catholicism, but especially to those inquisitive souls who just want to understand religion, any religion and the formation necessary to subscribe to any belief system.

Middlefield chorus to sing for the Pope
MIDDLEFIELD >> Matthew Campisi envisioned great things for his choir at St. Colman Church when he took over as the music director nine years ago.

In two weeks, those plans will come to fruition when Campisi and his choir will showcase their talents on the international stage. The St. Colman Choir will embark on a concert tour in Rome, which includes performances in St. Peter’s Basilica, a formal concert for the city of Rome in St. Ignatius Church and capping with a performance for the recently elected Pope Francis.

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