Pastoral Sharings: "Rich In What Matters To God"

WeeklyMessage Fr. Phil Bloom
August 4, 2013
Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Message: In Jesus we become rich in what matters to 

It is good to be back home after the World Youth Day 
experience. In one of the prayer vigils Pope Francis 
mentioned that many enjoy soccer. This brought cheers. Then he referred to the coming World Cup. Even louder cheers. Finally he said that Jesus is a “greater prize than the World Cup!” Young people stood, raised their hands and gave a sustained cheer. 

Jesus is the one great prize. That’s what we see in today’s readings. In comparison to Jesus everything in this world is vanity. Only Jesus has ultimate worth – and only in him does anything have value. Apart from him all is emptiness, vanity. 

The pope encouraged young people to give themselves to Jesus, to not let fear hold them back. He told about a Brazilian Saint: Blessed Jose de Anchieta. In spite of poor health, he began evangelizing at the age of 19. His example really struck me. I was upset by some of the inconveniences – long waits, standing in rain with a queasy stomach – but then I heard about Blessed Jose. Before he even got started, he suffered a shipwreck of the coast of Brazil! He continued on, learned the peoples’ language, lived with them – and made hundreds of converts to Jesus. 

Besides Blessed Jose de Anchieta I would like to tell you about another young man who gave himself totally to Jesus. His commitment will help us understand today’s second reading. His name was Eric Liddell – the young Scotsman featured in the movie, Chariots of Fire. In his late teens he joined a couple of other young men in embracing the Four Absolutes: Absolute Honesty, Absolute Purity, Absolute Unselfishness, Absolute Love. 

This is what St. Paul tells us, Absolute Honesty, “Stop lying to one another.” How beautiful our lives would be if we could be completely open to each other. To do that, St. Paul tells us, we need to become new people in Christ. Put to death those parts of you that are “earthly: impurity…evil desires and greed,” which as St. Paul says, “is idolatry.” 

Greed is idolatry because we make gods out of our possessions. I can start to think that I am somebody because I have a nice home, the latest computer, money on my credit card. But as Jesus reminds us, those things are ultimately empty. Tonight God could demand my life. My possessions – the things I worked hard for – will not matter. They will go to someone else who might not even appreciate them. 

We all know “you can’t take it with you.” But there is a paradox: What we give away, we do take with us. C.S. Lewis went further, “Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours…The only things we can keep are the things we freely give to God.”* As Jesus tells us: instead of storing up things in this world, we need to become “rich in what matters to God.” 

Your life or mine could end tonight. No suffering will last forever, nor will any pleasure. Only eternity will go on forever. Where we spend eternity depends on our relationship with Jesus, now. Only one thing matters – Am I giving myself to Jesus? Becoming a new person in him? He is the great prize, the only prize. In Jesus we become rich in what matters to God. “If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father.” Amen.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
August 4, 2013

Eighteenth Sunday
“One of the multitude said to him, ‘Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?’ ” (Lk 12: 13-14.)
Why does the Lord, in effect, refuse this man’s request? Was the request wrong? Perhaps not.
The Lord’s purpose is take the moment to teach about the higher good of the kingdom which might be lost to those who sin by coveting the goods of this world. By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness, and death, (Cf. Jn 6:5-15; Lk 19:8; Mt 11:5.)

Money-The Root of all Evil?
In his space trilogy, C.S. Lewis called him ‘the Bent one.”  That is really an apt name for the one the Bible is calls “Satan” or the Accuser.  The perverse choice he made to serve himself rather than his creator warped his nature, and ever since his delight has been twisting anything he can get his hands on.

18th Sunday: So What Really Matters?
A few years ago I tried to explain Goth to a Trappist priest.  It was almost impossible.  I had stopped off at the Trappist Abbey in Conyers, GA, spent some time in the Abbey Church, and then went shopping in the Abbey Store.  One of the priests was helping out.  I told him that I was buying little gifts for our Teens who were going to the Steubenville Youth Conference in Atlanta.   He mentioned that he had spent a weekend with his niece, and that she has two teenage sons.  He couldn’t understand it but they wore black all the time, including black makeup.  They had razor blades hanging from their ears and all sorts of other piercings,  as well as very hostile tattoos.  Then he said, “I  don’t know why they are so angry, and I don’t think they go to Church.”  How do you explain their anger and refusal to worship or even to be open to faith to a man who lives a life totally dedicated to prayer?  How do you explain their anger to a man who can only see the joy of Christ around him?  It was really all beyond his imagining, and God bless him for that.

Don’t Stay ‘Locked Up ’in Your Parish or Movement, Pope Exhorts
Christians are called to be disciples of Jesus with a mission, going out from their small circles to make disciples of all nations, Pope Francis taught today during the closing Mass of World Youth Day.

Wisdom, Christian Witness, and the Year of Faith
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.”

The Simplest, Most Direct Argument for God’s Existence
William Lane Craig is one of the sharpest Christian apologists today, especially on questions about God’s existence, Jesus’ Resurrection, and objective morality. The Evangelical philosopher travels around the country giving workshops and lectures, but he’s best known for his public debates with well-known atheists and skeptics. (You can watch many of them online through his excellent Reasonable Faith website.)

On The Human Tendency to “postpone” the Resurrection. A Meditation on Something Jesus said to St. Martha
In the Gospel of Monday of this week, the Feast of St. Martha, there is an interesting dialogue between Jesus and Martha. Martha begins by saying, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you. And thus Martha expresses her faith and hope in Jesus. But Jesus seeks to draw her out a bit and to get her to focus her faith in the moment. And thus the dialogue between them continues:

Reach Today’s Church With New Media
G.K. Chesterton once responded to a newspaper’s solicitation of articles responding to the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” with the reply, “Dear sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton.”

It was, perhaps, the most incisive, comprehensive and challenging thing he ever wrote.

Five Ways to Maintain Hope
Sadly, a priest recently committed suicide in the rectory a block down the street from my house. In my view, this priest (and anyone else who has committed suicide) must have lost all hope. To me, a person can only take his or her own life if steeped in utter hopelessness.
That got me thinking about hope as one of the theological virtues and what we can do to maintain it.

Cardinal Dolan on pope’s gay remarks: We can judge actions, not people
Pope Francis’ comments about gays may have signaled a change in tone within the Catholic Church, but they did not reflect a break in church policy, a leading American Catholic cleric said Tuesday.

The church teaches to treat everyone — including gays — with dignity, even if they do not approve of the relationships they have, said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“What the pope is saying is, don’t forget there’s another element to God’s teaching, namely that we treat everybody with dignity and respect, that we don’t judge their heart, that we love and respect them,” he told TODAY’s Matt Lauer.

The Catholic Case Against Same-Sex Marriage
Recently I spoke at a conference and stated I could see no argument for same-sex marriage which was logical enough to withstand scrutiny. Some responded they wanted to talk about the subject more, because they struggled to counter the arguments for same-sex marriage and not come off as hateful.

Before I begin, I want to be very clear, we cannot accept the fallacy that opposing same-sex marriage = “hate” of persons who have a same-sex attraction. Nor is it “homophobic”, mean, discriminatory, etc. This is rhetoric and ad hominem which is a distraction and does not add anything to the discussion at hand.

The Evidence Is on Our Side
In my last blog post I explained one of the reasons why I moved from atheism to Catholicism. In it I wrote:

After several years of deliberation I had come to the conclusion that Jesus Christ did in fact exist; he had performed miracles, was crucified on the order of Pontius Pilate, and resurrected from the dead. The weight of the evidence by which I came to this conclusion is perhaps the subject of another blog post, but for now it is enough to say that I had arrived at the conclusion that Jesus Christ was the Son of God as his first followers claimed him to be.

Bringing Light to Men and Women in Every Place
We all know evil exists.  But we also know it’s not some far off truth that doesn’t touch our lives.  We’ve seen it in people we don’t know and people we don’t want to know.  We’ve seen it in people we work with and go to school with and live near.  We’ve seen it in people we love and people we like.  Worst of all: we’ve seen how evil works inside of ourselves.  It creeps in through a small crack: a tiny sin, a little bit of disappointment, a moment of fatigue, a twinge of fear.  It seeps in.  It hides.  It hopes we don’t let in the light and the warmth.

Piety: the Perfection of Religion
The sixth of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit we receive in the sacrament of confirmation is piety. Piety is one of those “religious” words that people tend to tune out. Sometimes, we tune them out because they sound too false (“Look at that smug hypocrite. She’s so pious!”).

Or, then again, we dislike other religious words because, conversely, they sound harsh, forbidding, abstract and out of touch with human need and frailty. The chief of these religious words is, well, “religion.” So we hear frequently the old saw, “I’m not religious. I just love the Lord!”

Morality and the Natural Law Go Hand in Hand
A friend of mine was given the assignment of preparing a group of young people for confirmation. He soon discovered that this “assignment” was more like a formidable task.

On the topic of morality, many in his charge held positions that were anything but compatible with Catholic teaching. One young man proudly supported Hitler, arguing that the Fuehrer “was only trying to fulfill his dreams.” Do we need to point out that one man’s dream can be an entire world’s nightmare? My dear friend had his work cut out for him.

St. Francis de Sales: How to make the Sign of the Cross
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” These words roll off every Catholic’s tongue so frequently that we often forget the significance of what we are saying. Sometimes we make the Sign of the Cross at Mass so haphazardly that we look like a coach on the first base line at a Major League Baseball game. Worst of all, sometimes we don’t even make the Sign of the Cross because we are afraid we will bring unwanted attention and judgment upon ourselves. All of these are bad, and I am ashamed to admit that I have been guilty of each transgression at various points in my life. It is time we reconnect with this most ancient of prayers and discover the power behind these fifteen words.

Boy Who Made Pope Francis Cry Gets a ʻHero’s Welcome’ at School
RIO DE JANEIRO —– The young boy who told Pope Francis he wanted to be a priest and brought the Holy Father to tears during World Youth Day was greeted with cheers from his classmates when school resumed on July 30.

Brazil’s O Globo TV network reported that Nathan de Brito, 9, came into school in the city of Cabo Rio wearing his World Youth Day apparel and a cross, when his schoolmates broke into applause and gave him “a hero’s welcome.”

Who Was the First Apostle to Be Martyred?
That would be James the son of Zebedee.

He was one of Jesus’ core disciples. He—together with Peter and his own brother John—were the three privileged to witness the Transfiguration, for example (Mark 9:2), and this was not the only time Jesus singled out the these core disciples (cf. Mark 5:37, 13:3, 14:32-33).

Secrets and Transparency
I was listening to a lecture recently on St. Ignatius’ Rules for the Discernment of Spirits, which offer ways to interpret the alternating states of consolation (e.g. faith, hope, charity, joy, peace, gratitude) and desolation (e.g. anxiety, fear, sloth, despondency, temptation) that people striving for holiness typically experience in the spiritual life. The speaker was focusing on Rule 13, in which Ignatius asserts the importance of not keeping struggles, sins and temptations secret. In Ignatius’ own words:

Do We have a Right to be Outraged?
“Progressivism leads inevitably to utter irrationality and eventually political, as well as moral, chaos.”

So writes editor R.V. Young in the summer issue of Modern Age, the journal of which Russell Kirk was founding editor.

The magazine arrived with the latest post from our cultural capital, where the front-runner in the mayoral race, Anthony Weiner, aka Carlos Danger, has been caught again “sexting” photos of his privates, this time to a 22-year-old woman.

Parents of Teens: There IS a Solution!
“Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. This is your captain. Thank you for flying with us, our flight time to New York is 1hour 40 minutes. The weather is great there about 75 degrees with a strong wind. So relax and if you have any questions, find a teenager and ask them – they know EVERYTHING!”

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