Pastoral Sharings: "The Light of Faith"

WeeklyMessageFr. Michael Phillippino
August 11, 2013
Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Well, after our “commercial break” about our finances last week, we can return to our regularly scheduled messages. In this present Year of Faith, proclaimed by Pope Benedict, we have been asked to reflect upon the importance of our faith. On June 29th of this year, Pope Francis has written an encyclical entitled “Lumen Fidei” or “The Light of Faith”. I would urge you to pick it up and read it. It is very short and will provide you with some great points for reflection on our faith.

“Faith,” he reminds us, is not an illusory light or a leap in the dark, but a light that is “capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence” (LF. P. 3). As the author of Hebrews reminds us in today’s reading, it was faith that enlightened the men and women of old and empowered Abraham to uproot his life, leave his home, and go to a strange land that God would show him.
Faith tells us that the Lord is always gazing upon us with infinite love. When we fear him, putting our trust and faith in him and in his provision, we console His Heart and become fully alive, more fully the persons that God means us to be. Faith helps us realize that “a great love has been offered us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome the word – Jesus Christ the word made flesh – the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future, and enables us joyfully to advance along that way on wings of hope” (LF. P. 7).
The world, the devil, and even our own fallen nature will have us believe the lie that there is no help for us apart from ourselves. How many people really believe “God only helps those who help themselves”? While it is true that we have to do our part, Scripture also tells us, “While we were still helpless God helped us” (Romans 5: 6, 8).
The light of faith has been such a powerful, life transforming light in the lives of so many that we have to say that it cannot come from ourselves. Faith is not an illusory light that blocks our path to greater fulfillment in the future; but rather, “opens before us the vast horizons which guide us beyond our isolated selves toward the breadth of communion” (LF. P. 4).
At the end of the encyclical, Pope Francis closes with a prayer to Mary. May it be our prayer as well, as he writes: “Mother, help our faith! Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call. Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise. Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith. Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially in times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature. Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One. Remind us that those who believe are never alone. Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path. And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!”

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
August 11, 2013

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 12:32-48
Gospel Summary
The very first verse of today’s gospel reading tells us exactly why the gospel is Good News. Jesus calls us his “little flock” because he knows how powerless we sometimes feel in a world where violence is so prevalent. But we are also told not to fear, because our heavenly Father is pleased to give us the kingdom. It is precisely because we rely on love and generosity rather than on control and violence that we are eligible for this most precious gift of the “kingdom,” that is, ultimate freedom and happiness.

Like a Thief in the Night
“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
(Based on the commentary on Matthew xxiv by Cornelius a’ Lapide)
Some in the early Church considered the thief to be Satan. Thus St. Hilary says that the parable of the thief “shows that the devil is very watchful to take from us our goods, and to plot against the houses of our souls, that he may dig through them

19th Sunday: Don’t Just Look Busy, Be Busy
Today’s Gospel reading reminds me of the old story of the apparition on the corner of Main and Market in a busy city.  It was Saturday morning when Fr. Pascucci heard a knock on the rectory door and an extremely excited lady said, “The Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market.”  Father was in the process of trying to decide if she was suffering from stress or whatever, when a second person came running, “Father, father, the Lord has appeared on the corner of Main and Market.”  “When?” Fr. Pascucci asked.  “He’s there right now,” they both answered.  So Fr. Pascucci went down the block where a large crowed had formed, and sure enough, he saw Jesus.  After a while the Lord left.  Fr. Pascucci didn’t know what to do, so he called a monsignor friend of his. His friend told him

Faith as a Dynamic Journey
I recently visited Italy and was reminded of the religious contrast between America and Europe.  In Europe, large numbers of people consider themselves agnostics or even atheists.

In America, something like 95% of the population “believes in God.”  Nearly as high a percentage also believes that there is a life after death and that people are rewarded or punished by God in the next life based on how they lived this life.

What was the strangest event in Jesus’ life? (10 things you need to know)
A good candidate for the strangest event of Jesus life is one recorded in three of the four gospels.

On this occasion, which is found in Tuesday’s gospel reading, Jesus took three of the disciples up on a high mountain.

While they were there, his clothes became dazzlingly white, Moses and Elijah appeared, and they were engulfed in a cloud and heard a heavenly Voice.

This event, known as the Transfiguration, is mysterious and hard to understand. Why did it happen? What did it mean?

Whatever Happened to Limbo?
Contrary to what you might have heard, limbo is not dead.
The confusion stems from a 41-page report the International Theological Commission issued in 2007, exploring the theological and liturgical grounds for having hope that unbaptized infants who die are saved. The report was immediately hailed in secular media as a death knell to traditional Catholic belief that unbaptized infants go to limbo. One headline in Reuters summed up the slant of the secular media—“Catholic Church buries limbo after centuries.”

Privacy In The Bible
Even though we may not find the word in scripture, the Bible does give us guidelines regarding privacy. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they were immediately aware of their nakedness. Then in Genesis 3:21 “the LORD God made leather garments, with which he clothed them.” The eighth commandment also deals with privacy: “You shall not steal”(Exodus 20:15). And this is the basis of property rights today, a Genesis concept carried down to the 21st century. If we include intellectual property and anything that is not ours, then the importance God places on privacy cannot be overstated. Since our bodies are our property (through the grace of God), we must have complete control over who comes into our space, unless we are a threat to ourselves or others or are being confronted by law enforcement. The very nature of a human being requires privacy, and after birth we quickly learn the meaning of “mine.”

What Does Jesus mean by “Unrighteous Mammon?”
Staying in a kind of reflective mode from Last Sunday’s Gospel on Greed and how to avoid it, there may be value in pondering why Jesus called some (or all) mammon (wealth) unrighteous. The phrase occurs in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus says: I tell you, make friends for yourselves by your use of dishonest wealth, so that, when it fails, they will welcome you to eternal dwellings. (Luke 16:9). We discussed yesterday what it means to be welcomed into eternal dwellings and who these friends who welcome us really are. But in this post perhaps we can consider what the expression “dishonest wealth” means?

St John of Avila: Learning the Language of God (Part I of II)
Saint John of Avila’s master work in the spiritual life is Audi, Filia or Listen, O Daughter.  This treatise for Sancha Carrillo, one of his penitents, was started while he was imprisoned by the Inquisition. He continued to develop and revise the original text for more than thirty years. In fact, the final revisions were published five years after his death by his secretary.

The Language of Tradition
At the very edges of the culture you sometimes hear about how tradition is coming back. You hear how the John Paul II generation is coming into the seminaries, the monasteries, the parishes. You hear about how the Traditional Latin Mass is starting to pop up where you least expect it. You hear about how certain trends in architecture, literature and art are looking back to the great methods and styles of the past.

Whose Bible is it, anyway?
We needn’t be bitter in defending our beliefs. Even though many fundamentalists think the Catholic Church is under the control of Satan and all or most Catholics are headed for hell, not all think that — and we shouldn’t think the same of them.
However narrow-minded their faith often is, it’s also usually genuine, both in personal sincerity and in basic Christian orthodoxy. Fundamentalism is not some flaky non-Christian sect like New Agers or Moonies. The things on which Catholics and fundamentalists agree are more important than the things on which we disagree, even though the latter are very important, too.

Five Biblical Lists of Mortal Sins
In a  kind of follow up from yesterday’s blog on the call to repentance, it seems it might be helpful to list what the Bible describes as some of the more serious sins.

One of the great deceptions of our time is that serious sin is a remote possibility for most people, and that it is only committed by very wicked people. And too many people assess their moral standing with unhelpful slogans such as “I’m basically a good person,” or “I haven’t murdered anybody.”

Six Great Mysteries of the Bible
The Old Testament answers some of the greatest questions of all time—where did we come from? Why do we desire the good yet do evil? Why do our souls yearn for eternity while our bodies yield to death and decay?

Yet, the Hebrew Scriptures leave so many other tantalizing questions unanswered. These mysteries have nagged at the Christian imagination for centuries, inspired epic quests, and stumped some of the greatest minds of the Church.

Here are six of the greatest mysteries of the Old Testament. (Note to readers: the focus is on historical questions, not scientific issues, such as the six days of creation or the Genesis Flood.)

The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition
Many Catholics squirm at the very mention of the Spanish Inquisition, oftentimes conceding to claims that it was the most brutal time in Church history. But was it really as brutal as it is often described?

If you have never seen the BBC documentary The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition, I highly recommend it. At a little over forty-five minutes, it summarizes the most recent scholarship about the “Black Legend,” how it began, and why it persists.

Don’t Feed the Angels
An important thing to remember about angels is that they are terrifying. I am not sure when angels started to be domesticated, but nearly every time one appears in the Bible, the humans are frightened. So much so that angels had to start saying phrases like, “Fear not!” and “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.”
Angels are celestial beings, created as beings between God and Man. They are warriors, messengers, servants and worshipers of God.

Call Me an Evangelical Charismatic Liberal Conservative Progressive Traditionalist…
…or call me Catholic.

One of my life slogans is the dictum by F.D.Maurce that “A man is most often right in what he affirms and wrong in what he denies.” I realize that my own prejudices and background incline me towards what seems to be a more conservative viewpoint, but I reject the title and kick against the walls of any box I’m put into.

So here is what I affirm: I am an Evangelical because I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is the message for the world’s salvation. I believe the mission of the church is to proclaim the gospel of God’s love and redemption to a needy world, and I believe the old, old story of sinful humanity in need of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. That love is granted to the world through the sacrificial death of Our Lord Jesus Christ–Son of God and Son of Mary, and it is ministered to the world through his Holy Church. It is my mission and the mission of all the baptized to go out into the world and share this good news with love, power and passion.

Well Said: A Lamp in the Hand of God and Stained Glass
In the Lord’s saying, “when a lamp is lit, it is not put under the bushel basket…,” the word for “lamp” used (Greek word) actually means “portable lamp,” and this makes the saying all the more poignant. It makes us, in fact, to be a lamp in the hand of God, a light that must allow itself to be moved about by Christ as he sees fit. The house is not lit up all at once but according to the need of the moment: now the kitchen, now the dining room, now the study or the bedroom requires light. Because it is Christ who has kindled his light, the Christian will also allow his Lord to choose the particular lampstand where he will shine, and when.

What did Jesus mean when he said not to judge others? (10 things to know and share)
Jesus famously said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

Today, some people use this to shut down conversations when the subject turns to sexual morality.

“Didn’t Jesus say not to judge others?” they ask. “Who are you to judge?”

Did Jesus mean his words to be used this way?

If not, what did he mean?

Here are 10 things to know and share . . .

Notes on Mark: What Makes a Man Unclean
MARK 7:14-23
After Jesus’ pronouncement that it is what comes from a man’s heart that makes him unclean, he then proceeds to list what these are. Barclay looks at the Greek for each term so we get a real feel for the distinctions Jesus was making. And we can see it is a truly terrible list …

The World is In Flames
In the Discalced Carmelite Propers today is the Feast of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) who was martyred during the Nazi persecution. At a time close to her death she penned an ominous reflection on the state of the world and of our need to abandon all to Christ. Though we are not in a world war now, we are no less in a battle for the soul of our country. On the stage of the world, in the past 100 years, more Christians have been martyred for their faith than in all previous centuries combined. Her words are worthy of reflection:

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