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Contents: Volume 2 - Twentieth Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A – October 15, 2017


 

The

28th

Sunday

2017

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Barbara Cooper, OP

3. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

4. -- Brian Gleeson CP

5. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

6. – (Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Sun. 28 A

Our readings this Sunday reflect an incredibly generous God. Our God gives multiple chances for ALL people to come to the lavish banquet prepared for us. How fortunate we are!

The first reading from the Book of Isaiah seems like one of those "ah" moments in time. Reading or hearing it, "you know that you know" deep inside that all will be well. It is one of those readings along with the second reading from the Letter to the Philippians that needs to be read and re-read in order to maintain one's perspective in the midst of all that swirls around in our daily lives and world.

Then there is the Gospel, a reading I find both hopeful and sad. We see a generous king (God)who invites all to a feast. While furious at the lack of "yes" responses to the invitation, he still extends his generosity to all. How sad that many ignore the offer, make excuses, turn away, or even defy and mistreat the messengers who try to share this Good News with others.

The defiant stubbornness of the latter mystifies me. In this day and age, however, this attitude or rather needed attitude adjustment begins in families, neighborhoods, churches, workplaces, and needs to extend between countries. With all the unnecessary and destructive "drama", arguments, figurative back-stabbing, name calling, fake news/alternative facts, etc., why can't we just listen to one another!!!! Free will brings forth multiple perspectives; grace brings forth possible solutions.

It is not enough to be invited to this banquet, however, as we have heard/read. We can't just "show up"although that is better than the alternatives. We have to come prepared by living a life that will clothe us in goodness (or thanks to Jesus, mostly so!) Our response to the invitation must be to try to live a life that mirrors Jesus's life on earth.

Perhaps our wedding garment might be a bit ruffled, tattered, or in some disarray, but at least it will be recognizable in our attempt to put it on, if we try to put on the life of Christ. We are reminded in the second reading "I can do all things in him who strengthens me." As we try to discern which invitations in life we should take and how to reconcile serious differences, let us grab on to the Source of strength and grace. Let us live contentedly as in this second reading and know that "God will fully supply whatever you/we need". Just ask! Thanks be to God!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A – October 15, 2017

Some of the stories Jesus told are called "conflict parables" because they are for the benefit of those who opposed him and his mission. Today's gospel reading, like last Sunday's, is addressed to the religious leaders of the people. But the parables are told publicly. I think to provide some guidelines for those of us who might not lead, but who do choose those we will follow.

Today the reign of God is offered again, this time in the story of a Ruler who organized a wedding party for his son. And again, Jesus and his message are rejected by some who yearn for the Messiah, for "salvation". Still, we are all invited, all we have to do is dress properly and attend the banquet.

We don't need a fancy dress or elegant tuxedo. For this feast we clothe ourselves in a right relationship with God, with justice, mercy, humility, faith, truthfulness, love, service, joy, perseverance, forgiveness, and all virtue. We clothe ourselves in Christ, with the heartbeat of the Spirit.

Then it's not difficult to get to the feast. The reign of God is within us. We just have to attend to it. That might involve letting some other things go; those plans for social or professional "advancement" that require us to compromise our values "just a little". A willingness to let go of what blocks our path. The courage to disturb the status quo.

Jesus was so threatening, they wanted to kill him. I think there is something more common and vicious in our time – to make him invisible through apathy or indifference. To twist his teachings so they appear as the opposite to the domain of God Jesus proclaimed. To use his name as a "cover" for evil and violence.

The king sent his servants to:

"Go out, therefore, into the main roads

and invite to the feast whomever you find.'

The servants went out into the streets

and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,

and the hall was filled with guests."

 

What sort of guest are you?

 

Barbara Cooper, OP

Vancouver Island, BC Canada

bcoop60@yahoo.com

 

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Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordered Time, October 15 2017

Isaiah 25:6-10; Responsorial Psalm 23; Philippians 4:12-14 & 19-20; Gospel Acclamation Ephesians 1:17-18; Matthew 22:1-14

Great writers and producers of plays, movies, and TV programs understand that the marketable success of their work depends on whether the audience can identify with characters in the story. Those stories are three-dimensional. Well perhaps we should consider them four dimensional. That fourth dimension would be the flow of time in which the character grows, decays, argues, attacks, or even disintegrates. The motion, the change that occurs on the stage, the silver screen, or the screen in our living room draws us in, captures our imagination. It may drag us into pathos, lift us into exhilaration, drive us to despair, carry us into hope, or even sooth us into a peaceful joy and confidence as good triumphs over evil.

The point is this: great writing and its production into live action engages the person, captures the imagination. I remember many Sundays in more than seven decades of attending liturgy when I was not engaged, could not put myself into the scene of the Hebrew Scriptures. My listening in those days did not create for me a place to stand with the first Christians as I listened to a letter from Paul, or John, or Peter, or James. Often in the readings from the evangelists I found myself a member of an audience straining to find a person in the story with whom I could identify. It has been said – don’t recall who said it or in what context – the problem with the Liturgy of the Word is that we stand as onlookers in a past event, a sort of "medicine show" – a "laughing Joe’s Medicine Show -- presented for our entertainment and distraction from the work-a-day world. To maximize the impact of the readings, it is essential we find a place for us in the story proclaimed.

Perhaps the problem is a lackadaisical proclamation by readers ignorant of the context, the intensity of the related experience, or just plain unprepared to proclaim. Perhaps the psalm-prayer response of the people is just an interlude measuring time for the second reader to ascend the ambo. Perhaps the shout of Alleluia as the Gospel book is carried to the ambo is a mealy mouthed ritual that lacks substance. We may wonder why this procession with the book of gospels. Is this just a way of giving the deacon or the presider time to move from the altar-place of honor given the book of Gospels on the altar to the ambo? Maybe we’ve just gotten too accustomed to the same ritual and become zombie-like in our attendance to God presence to us in the refined words of inspired writings. Is attendance and attention in the liturgy of the Word a sort of sleep-walking, a routine we must endure to get to the sacrifice part of our service? What a tragedy for our spiritual growth!

Unless we can relate to a person in the readings, unless we recognize ourselves living the experience proclaimed, we are mere bystanders. We hear a "nice" story. But the relevance of the story escapes us. The story is clearly not about us. However, the Scriptures are indeed about us. Whether the books were written in the eighth century before Christ during the Babylonian captivity or written much later at the end of the first century after the birth of Jesus the Christ there is relevance to our experience now, today. We’ve got to find a place for us in the narrative. Great preachers study the Scriptures so they can explain the background of the Hebrew Scripture selection. That is why cantors and music ministers prepare for liturgy by understanding the background and meaning of the Psalm response. With meaning the words come alive and find good soil in which to take root within the hearts of the assembly. That is why the readers prepare not only to pronounce correctly. The preparation must seek understanding of what they will proclaim. Proclaiming with understanding leads the assembly to engagement and understanding that leads to spiritual growth.

The liturgy of the Word is not merely about the ministers of the Word, or music ministers, or even the homilist. It is about us gathered in community. We come together bringing our experiences, our successes great or small, our failures and our pain. The readings and homilies open our minds and hearts to meaning and purpose to the events of our daily living. The events and relationships of our living are exposed to a depth of meaning and purpose absent on the street. Most of us live a consistently routine life. What value is it, what is its meaning, what makes our work worthwhile? It’s a mistake if we think of Catholic-Christian living as paradise on earth. We could better understand Catholic-Christian living if we think of ourselves as players on a stage. We carry through our living the message, the purpose of the play-wright. There is conflict and there is peace; there is community and there is division; there is acceptance and there is rejection; there is love and there is hate.

How, then, do we get into the act? How can we become engaged in liturgy of the Word? We’ve got to find a place for us in the narrative. When we are able to close our eyes and picture ourselves sitting at the banquet table, or perhaps rejecting an invitation because we’re too busy. Or maybe we’re the angry ones who assassinate the messengers inviting us to the grand table.

This Sunday’s Hebrew narrative and Gospel narratives are banquet scenes. It’s like a great and wonderful banquet in honor of those who have struggled and found themselves in the presence of God. The reading from Isaiah is about the time before the nation is overrun by Babylon. It is a terrible time – unsure of a future, angry voices dividing the nation in to factions. Truth and dignity are buried under political expediency. Isaiah writes this hymn as a promise of God’s presence to the people during the upcoming terror, destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the seventy plus years of captivity in Babylon. Isaiah, in this hymn, tells the people based on God’s inspiring him to speak, that these trials lead to a wonderful banquet. In is through these trials that God provides for all peoples. We should not miss the point of this. The suffering and pain of the Jews will lead to all people being provided for. Not merely food, not merely safety. But more than that! The veil that hangs over the people, the veil of death and terror will ultimately be destroyed. All tears will be wiped away – every nation will participate and the web of meaninglessness and terror that hangs over everyone. The final phase of all this will be a wonderful banquet where all are gathered with rich food and drink.

The Responsorial Psalm is one of our favorites. Psalm 23 is one we know about when we struggle, when we walk through dark valleys, when we slip and slide down wet and narrow mountain trails. Which adult cannot find hope and peace, a sense of security in the presence of God with us, leading us to the great banquet? Surely there is no one older than adolescence who fails to find a place in the first reading? Who isn’t threatened by the forces of the world? Who can fail to respond to the Psalm from a deep seated understanding of the hope that "I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life"?

Jesus’ parable this Sunday speaks to us about the choices we are forced to make. Throughout our history, the Lord is preparing the great wedding banquet. Wedding receptions are typically wonderful events, where the hope and future of the bride and groom are held up as wonderful possibilities. Though no adult at the reception will ever think marriage is a smooth road. It’s often dark valleys, sometimes slippery, slanted, slick mountain trails that need the staff and rod of comfort and security provided by the Lord, shepherding us. All this preparation, all this hard traveling, all this struggle, all the failures, all the successes lead to the banquet table of the wedding feast – the feast ancient writers described as the wedding of heaven and earth. A wedding where every tear is wiped away and where death – physical, mental, and psychological – DEATH IS NO MORE!

Jesus’ parable tells us all are invited --- all are invited: no race is excluded, no nation is denied, no tradition is excluded. Those who were invited while the feast was being prepared regretted their invitation. They became busy about many things. Is this where we find a place in the story for ourselves? There are some who beat up the servants, the prophets, the clergy, the laity who invite with word and with works. Matthew insists there are others who murder the servants. Perhaps we should think of Oscar Romero, the three Maryknoll nuns and the laywoman volunteer, other volunteers and religious who are martyred even in our days of enlightened, civilized sophistication. Are we among the murderers by our complacency in the face of governmental policies that rob the poor, despoil the earth given to our care, deny education, health care and dignified employment to vast swaths of persons? Do we murder others by our bigotry, our prejudices? Matthew included this statement about the destruction of their city as a reference to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in the year 70. Most of us can relate to being called from the main roads, the back alleys, the lonely country roads and all other places where humans dwell. We are the good; we are the bad. Despite our goodness or our badness, each is individually invited to the wedding banquet. Whether we accept is our choice. Can we discover a place for us in this part of the story? Have we accepted the invitation – have we prepared to celebrate?

But then there is this one guy who accepted the invitation but failed to get cleaned up. Perhaps we find ourselves in this guy’s place. Perhaps we’ve accepted the invitation, but then done nothing about cleaning up our act, dressing ourselves in a simple white robe that respects the one who called us to the wedding feast of his son.

Just a quick thought: there have been many words written about the line, "many are invited, but few are chosen." Many literalist interpretations of this line insist some of us are "predestined" to heaven and others to the other place. The word "chosen" is not a choice of God. If God has his way all will come to live in him; all will join in the banquet of heaven and earth. The choice is ours not God’s. If we come to the assembly, his son’s wedding banquet, carrying the invitation but have done nothing to prepare for sharing the banquet, then we’ve chosen our place. This is not predestination. God created us to find ourselves in the Trinity and grow spiritually as we mature physically. Let’s not make God an ogre intent on our destruction. God is the Good Shepherd whose rod and staff guide us to the Table of Eternity, a table of community, a table of joy, a table loaded to the point of breaking; filled with juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. Can we find our place at this table, among friends, with former enemies? Are we there?

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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SHARING AND CARING: 28TH SUNDAY A

If we look deep into our hearts, we will discover that among our many longings there is one for good relationships with other people. We long to be at peace with them, to be at home with them, to live in peace and harmony, to get on well with them, to cooperate with them, to be, to support them, and to enjoy their company. In a nutshell, we have a very deep longing for companionship, community and communion. We know deep down, that try as we might to be masters of our own fate, to be captains of our own souls, to be rugged individuals, to make it on our own, to be self-made and self-sufficient, we simply cannot survive and we certainly cannot thrive without other people in our lives. Our longing for belonging makes that very clear.

While the French philosopher, John-Paul Sartre has said: 'hell is other people', he was surely overlooking the greater truth that so too is heaven. I suggest too that the call to community, to togetherness, is some part of what Jesus meant when he said that the kingdom of God, the reign of God, is like a wedding feast to which all sorts of people have been invited to come together. In fact, we cannot have the company of God, and we cannot experience and savour the love of God, without being connected with and in contact with, other human beings. This is so true that the Second Vatican Council, in its document on the meaning of the Church, said that God saves us (and therefore re-makes and transforms us), not as isolated individuals but as members of a people - the people of God, a sharing people, a people in communion. (The Church #8)

But perhaps in response to God's invitation to share Jesus Christ as embodied in one another, to dine together at the table of the Lord, to enjoy one another's company, to offer friendship and love to others both at Mass and beyond, and to reach out to them with acceptance, interest, care and concern, that like those selfish and self-centred individualists in the gospel today we keep saying: 'No! Not now! Not yet! I have to work my farm. I have to look after my business. I have no time to mix with others, no time to socialize. I don’t want to get involved and mix with them. Don’t expect to find me standing, kneeling, and sitting down with all those strangers, let alone meeting them personally. I’m just not coming to the feast. What do you take me for?'

If we find ourselves saying ‘no’ to others, no to companionship, no to communion, no to community, no to caring and sharing, how are we ever going to make God's dream come true for us all - people of our faith, people of other faiths, and people of no faith? How on earth are we going to help God’s dream come true, his dream for us all, his dream that is reflected in that popular anthem: 'We are one, and we are many, and from all the lands on earth we come ... I am, you are, we are Australian?’ If we keep on saying ‘no’ to others, blocking them out of our lives, or worse, discriminating against anyone who is different, how are we going to make that dream of Jesus come true for his followers: 'There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all' (Ephesians 4:5), so 'love one another as I have loved you' (John 15:12)?

There is yet another application of the image of the wedding feast. It is summed up in the challenge that is expressed in a fourth-century inscription on the wall of an ancient church in Syria. It says to the people as they assemble for every Sunday Mass: 'Let no one stay away. If you do, you will deprive the body of Christ of one of its members.'

So let's remember that, any time we would rather stay home from church - to surf the net, wash the car, prune the roses, bake a cake, walk the dog, paint the spare room, anything at all but join with the rest of the body of Christ in praise and thanksgiving to God. For God’s gifts of life and health, and for God’s gift of life together, life shared, life in common, the life and soul of our parish community!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year A: 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (The Wedding Feast)

"Invite everyone you can find to the wedding."

I saw just that happen once – a long time ago in Northern Ireland. A rich man - a pub landlord – funny how pub landlords in Ireland are always rich men – can’t imagine why. Anyway, this man held his daughter’s wedding feast at the biggest hotel in a town a few miles outside Belfast. But this was in the time of the Troubles. And on the day of the wedding, there was a lot of trouble in the city, with fighting and shooting and bombs and road blocks, so many of the invited guests were too frightened to come. And so there we were - only about ten or fifteen people in an enormous hall set with dinner for two hundred and fifty. The bride was crying; the groom was silent; everyone was tense. Nobody was talking. The atmosphere was horrible!

At the back of the hall stood the father of the bride – a big stout man and I have never seen a man look so angry. His whole face was purple; the veins were standing out on his forehead; his expression was working like a bulldog chewing a wasp. Just once I have seen the like. Manchester United supporters may remember that photograph of Sir Alex Ferguson in his last year at Old Trafford, losing at home to Liverpool.

And then, just as I was watching, something inside him just suddenly snapped. He could stand the strain no longer. I saw a look of decision come into his face. He went very quietly to the manager of the hotel, grasped him warmly by the throat. (Remember he was a pub landlord and in moments of stress we all go back to what we do best.) And he said very quietly, but with a certain emphasis to his tone: "Bring all your staff, all your cooks and barmen, porters and chambermaids. Let them bring all their families because we are still going to have a party. This is still My. Daughter’s. WEDDING!"

The manager – wisely in my view – just nodded.

So they all came, pulling on their good clothes as they came. And they were delighted. Normally they spent all their time serving other people. Never before had they had a party in their own hotel. So they filled up the empty spaces. And we ate. And we drank. And then we ate some more. And drank some more. And gradually the party started to warm up. The hotel band happened to have come along. So they pulled out their musical instruments and we had some music. And peoples started to dance. And the party was just beginning to really swing, when...

Well, you know what’s going to happen next, don’t you? All the people who had been delayed on the road finally arrived in a bunch. And there was total confusion. And it was packed. It was heaving. It was massive. It was Brilliant!

Eventually, in the early hours of the morning, as we all tottered our various ways unsteadily home, we all agreed that it had been the best wedding we had ever been at!

The lesson of that moment – the lesson of this Gospel – is that God does not have favourites. Anyone and everyone, black or white, slave or free, rich or poor, gay or straight, expresso or cappucino, is welcome to the wedding feast of his Son.

And when we celebrate, we do not celebrate for ourselves alone. We celebrate with the entire Body of Christ – the Church – the largest organisation of humanity there has ever been.

In our Eucharist today we are united with Christ and with one another. And beyond this place we are united with more than a billion people all over the world. And beyond this time we are united with the billions of people who have gone before us marked with the Sign of Faith. And into the Future we are united with the billions of people who will follow in our own Footsteps of Faith.

Let us pray that all of us may find and respond to our own invitation to the Fullness of Life.

Let us stand and profess our Faith in God who invites us all.

Paul O'Reilly <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net. Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John
 


 

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