Pastoral Sharings: "Welcome and Hospitality"

WeeklyMessagePriests for Life
July 21, 2013
Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time


The First Reading and Gospel of this weekend speak to us about welcome and hospitality. In the exercise of welcoming the other, we welcome God himself. The New Testament urges us in

various passages not to fail to exercise hospitality. The Letter to the Hebrews says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.(Heb. 13:2).”

Today’s homily can point out that “hospitality” is more than just a natural virtue or integral part of good manners. There is a “hospitality” that goes to the very depths of our relationship with God and our neighbor. The example of Abraham, Sarah, Martha, and Mary today point to several key truths.

First, the only proper response to the human person is welcome, acceptance, and love. This starts with the welcome we give to our own children, born and unborn, and continues in the fabric of the family, Church, and society to create a communion of love and service. The attitude of welcome, the virtue of hospitality, means that we make room for the other because of the value of the other, not because of some pleasure or convenience of our own. (The phrase “every child a wanted child” is a Planned Parenthood slogan; but as psychiatrist Dr. Philip Ney explains, it is not being “wanted” that leads to psychological health, but rather being “welcomed.” Being “wanted” means we meet someone else’s need or desire; being “welcomed” means there is room for us because of who we are and the dignity that we possess, independent of what is going on in anyone else.)

Second, the opportunity to welcome the other comes at times we do not expect. We are always living in the community of the human family, and have to be always ready to respond to the needs of the other person. We are not only responsible for the people we choose and plan for. We are responsible before we choose, simply because all human beings are our brothers and sisters. As John Paul II stressed in Evangelium Vitae, we have been entrusted to the care of one another by the Creator. 

Third, the welcome and hospitality we extend to others is, by that very fact, extended to God himself. This is brought out in today’s readings and in many other passages of Scripture such as the judgment scene in Matthew 25.

Fourth, extending welcome can bring suffering and inconvenience to us – and this is the opportunity to live out what St. Paul describes in the Second Reading, uniting our sufferings with those of Christ.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
July 21, 2013

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 10:38-42
Gospel Summary

Two sisters named Martha and Mary extend hospitality to Jesus as he stops for a visit while on his journey to Jerusalem. Mary sits beside Jesus as a disciple talking with him. Martha, burdened by much serving, asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus instead tells Martha that while she is needlessly worried about many things, there is need of only the one thing that Mary has chosen.

Mary and Martha – Meet the Lord Everyday!
The story of Mary and Martha of Bethany, sisters of Lazarus, teaches us about hospitality, Christian service, prayer, action and contemplation, and distraction.

I recently got a harsh letter from a Baptist lady protesting that she could not find the word “Catholic” anywhere in the Bible.

Sixteenth Sunday: Life in the Presence of Christ
In this Sunday’s second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, Paul speaks about a mystery, “a mystery that has been hidden for ages is now manifested to God’s Holy Ones.  The mystery is this: Christ is in you.” 

Usually when we use the word mystery, we think of a story that has an ending we try to solve before we get to the last page of the book or last five minutes of the movie.  When the Church uses the term mystery, it goes much deeper.  For the Church a mystery is a truth that is incomprehensible to the reason and knowable only through divine revelation.  The Early Church referred to the sacraments as the mysteries.  When adults are about to come into the faith they are anointed with the Oil of Catechumens so they may have the strength and the grace to be open to Mystery.

Why “Religion” is a good word that we need to defend
It is “chic” and, I would add, a “cliche” to hear many people say today, “I am spiritual but not religious.” There is a kind of self-congratulatory tone that often goes with this self description as well, and certainly a lot of cultural approval in the secular West for such dissociative talk.

There is even some acceptance of this notion among more theologically conservative evangelicals who, on account of their “low ecclesiology” also favor a kind decentralized and highly personal notion of faith, and entertain a kind of cynicism to “organized religion.”

We Are All Saints . . . In Progress
We are called to be saints. Granted, it is a rather lofty directive. Few people ever really feel up to the challenge. We struggle with our earthly duties and challenges while viewing sainthood as a celestial attainment reserved for “the chosen.” However, Scripture clearly tells us that we must “strive for that holiness, without which you will not see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) Yet how often do we view people who seek holiness with skepticism and criticism? Perhaps the doubts are not about the person’s sincerity in achieving conversion, but more about the uncertainty of achieving our own sainthood.

Wisdom, Christian Witness, and the Year of Faith
By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap., D.D.

A long time ago in Germany, a man kept a diary. And some of his words are worth sharing today, because they’re a good place to begin our discussion.

The man wrote: “Speak both to the powerful and to every man—whoever he may be—appropriately and without affectation. Use plain language. Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance, and be ready to let it go. Order your life well in every single act. Behave justly to those who are around you. Be vigilant over your thoughts, so that nothing should steal into them without being well examined.”

Making It Normal
Do you ever wonder why culture takes a turn for the worse? What’s the inciting moment, the turning point, the thing that makes culture embrace an evil that only a handful of years earlier was almost unthinkable?

Finding God at the Beach: An Interview With Peter Kreeft
“Nature reveals God’s mind and imagination, and scripture reveals God’s heart and will,” says philosopher Peter Kreeft. But the “ability to read natural signs has decreased with the increase in the ability to read and decipher artificial signs.”

A professor of philosophy at Boston College, Kreeft has authored nearly 50 books including, The Sea Within, I Surf Therefore I Am, and If Einstein Had Been a Surfer. He reflected recently on why the sea holds such a fascination for us, even as we are more and more distracted by technology.

A Life of “Unconnected Instants”
The world is in disarray in large part because we have become a civilization of idol worshippers.  The never-ending pursuit of more money, better homes, everlasting leisure, career advancement, political dominance, greater celebrity, religious indifference, and a lack of a clear Christian identity are clouding our ability to sit in the silence where we can know God and sapping us of our strength to follow His path and His path alone.

Did God adopt Jesus? Did He adopt You?
Before addressing the theology, you need to know that there was a heresy emerging in the 8th century Spain called “adoptionism.” It was called the “hispanicus error.” Cool name for a bad heresy.

If you know your history and you guessed that Islamic influence in Spain beginning in AD 711 had something to do with this error, you would be correct. Islam holds that Jesus Christ is a mere man. If you blend that with Christianity, you might come up with “solution” to have Jesus adopted by God.

However, we know that the the Second Person of the Trinity is the Divine Son of God. God the Father and God the Son are consubstantial. Hence, the Son is “eternally begotten” of the Father. They share the same nature.

What Theology of the Body is Really All About
For the Catholic millennial generation, there is little doubt that one of the most popular works is the Wednesday General audiences of Blessed John Paul II that comprise “Man and Woman He Created Them”, or as they are known to wider audiences, the Theology of the Body. For those 30 and under, it is basically required reading if you wish to interact with your Catholic peers.

Ordinary Time Is Ordered Time
T.S. Eliot wrote, “Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future and time future contained in time past.” With this poetic riddle, Eliot ponders the nature of time and the mystery of time’s redemption.

We also ponder the redemption of time through the Church year. The weeks between the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and the beginning of Advent are called Ordinary Time. This does not mean that this time is simply boring or ho-hum.

Avery’s Ten Rules
The year 2014 will mark the twentieth anniversary of the first publication of the ongoing project Evangelicals and Catholics Together. From the beginning, ECT was more than an alliance of convenience. It was a theological movement grounded in the Holy Scriptures and the deepest impulses of the historic Christian faith. In this work we were guided by two senior theologians, Dr. J. I. Packer, an irenic champion of unitive evangelicalism, and Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., the first U.S.-born theologian to be made a Catholic cardinal without having served as a bishop.

Becoming a Saint One Day at a Time
God calls us each to holiness, to sainthood.

  Every day, each experience we have helps us grow in our faith and in our purpose: to achieve holiness; to become saints; to fully become the person God intends us to be.
Each experience, then, has the potential to be “purgative.” Purgation is a process that gets us ready for God. Just as God’s grace was given to the martyrs, so it is given to us to grow in holiness and towards sainthood.

Cloudy With a Slight Chance of Reason
I live in Washington State. Born and raised mostly in California, I am a transplant to the Evergreen State and find a lot about life here puzzling. We are one of the most liberal states in the Union. We not only have legalized gay marriage and marijuana use, but also doctor-assisted suicide,. We cannot have phosphates in our dish-washing detergent, but grandma can grow her own pot. And when she gets diagnosed with lung cancer, she can ingest a lethal prescription provided by her doctor.

Don’t Tug on Lucifer’s Cape
In his first letter to “God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces,” the apostle (then Pope, later Saint) Peter warned his flock:

[Y]our adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

The vague yet troubling notion persists, voiced by preachers, pop novelists, reporters, and rock stars alike: that from Salem to San Francisco, the Devil has done a helluva lot of that roaring and walking about in the United States of America.

What does it mean to “offer it up”?
In this video, Fr. John Bartunek and Dan Burke talk about what it means to join in the redemption of Christ through suffering. If you are alive, you are suffering in some way. With this video you will gain perspective on that suffering and how you can use it to grow in your relationship with Christ and to aid others in their redemption.

Nailing Themselves to Their Own Crosses
It is said quite truly that the path of least resistance leads to Hell. This truism is particularly relevant to our present hedonistic culture because hedonism is the path of least resistance. It is the belief that we should do whatever makes us feel good in the present moment. Such a belief is inimical to the Christian insistence on the necessity of self-sacrifice. Hedonism hates the cross. It hates all talk of sin, which it has banished from its vocabulary. It spurns all talk of virtue, believing that prudence, temperance and duty are all trumped by “freedom”, which is defined as the “right” to do what we like with our own lives.

Dangers to the Faith
It is holy to love our enemy, but we must recognize him. The guy who takes our parking spot, the cranky neighbor, the difficult in-law…they are not the ultimate enemy. Yes, they are personal challenges, but they are also opportunities for grace—“The measure with which you measure, will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

The ultimate enemy is the darkness that siphons off Godly values and rejects Christianity as silly or even dangerous to an indulgent society. We are called to love the misguided ones who fall for the clever disguises of darkness. By knowing the truths of our faith, we can shed light on the darkness and redirect them.

Phony Marriage or Holy Matrimony?
The Daily Telegraph announces here that “gay marriage” is now legal in the United Kingdom after the Queen signed legislation into law. The surge for people of the same gender to be married now seems unstoppable in many parts of the world, and I have no doubt that the homosexual activists will not rest until they achieve this same victory wherever possible.

Just as “wearing a ten gallon hat don’t make you a Texan” and “saying you’re the King of England don’t make you the King of England.” So saying you’re married don’t make you married, or at least you may be married in the eyes of the state, but you’re not married in the eyes of God…not that most people will care about that.

“Hey Dad, Where was the Tabernacle?”
My wife took some of the kids to Mass in the morning while I took some of the others, the boy included, with me to the later Mass. My boy is now eight years old and he’s a new altar boy and really paying attention to everything in the liturgy now. Our parish doesn’t offer an afternoon Mass so we had to go to another parish a few miles away.

Without going into much detail about the Mass, the music all sounded like Joni Mitchell songs and most of the intentions had to do with the proper care of our planet’s resources. As we were walking out after Mass he started asking me a question. He said, “Hey Dad, I’ve got a couple of questions about Mass.”

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