My eye gave out on me again last week. I had a second emergency eye surgery on Friday last, to repair the retina in my right eye. According to the surgeon, the procedure went well. Now we wait… I’m not good at waiting! I was at the 10-week place of a 12 week healing when the new tear happened.
So… for the next 2 months, I’ll have severely limited vision in my right eye… and very poor depth perception ~ making driving a real challenge. Kindly offer a prayer for me. St. Clare of Assisi, send your healing power upon me!
St Ignatius Loyola says that pride, riches and power are the three most seductive and destructive temptations in the world. So many conflicts can be traced to the interplay of this unholy trinity. The so-called reality TV shows demonstrate just how far some of our compatriots will go to be famous, to be wealthy, or to have a certain clout in the popular imagination. We should never be surprised when our media culture reflects this back to us, because by watching the programs, reading the papers and the magazines, listening to the shock-jocks and buying the merchandise, we are part of the problem, not the solution.
In the Gospel Jesus tells us just how deadly riches and greed can be. Our own experience tells how right He is: think of how many children fight in the playground because everything they see "is mine"; the families who have fought over an estate; the number of friends who have fallen out over even small amounts of money; colleagues who no longer speak to each other because of a failed investment; and nations who have gone to war to get what their neighbors have.
The issue with money isn’t having it, because money, and the health, education and welfare that flow from it, are good things, whereas poverty is an evil that God wants wiped off the face of the earth. The problem is what we do with money and what it does to us. Some Christians think that just because they are financially comfortable from legitimate earnings, they don’t have to take any responsibility for the world's poor who are often stereotyped as being lazy, war-mongering and irreligious. These images may justify not sharing more of the excess we have, but it doesn’t remove the moral obligation Jesus demands of us.
Of the world's 6 billion people, 1.2 billion of them live on one dollar or less, a day. On average 26,000 children will die today of starvation. We should try telling them they're lazy, war-mongering and irreligious! In an attempt to get rich quickly or to stay rich, most western countries gamble away 10 to 15 times more money than they give to third world development ~ money that might see markets and wages that are just, and so provide an incentive for work, curtail or prevent some wars and help develop democracy.
When faced with the enormity of the world's poverty, the bad spirit can convince us that it’s so large there is nothing that we can do about it. This just isn't true. Every moment of consciousness and each act of goodness toward anyone anywhere is a victory for God's kingdom and will to be done “here on earth as it is in heaven.”
No one can pretend, though, that sharing is always easy or that throwing money around will solve the world's problems. Everyone who works in the front-line says that the biggest obstacle in the war on poverty is dignity. Dignity, as Jesus reminds us, has very little to do with money or possessions. Each time we make a claim for our own dignity and we give dignity to people who don’t even claim it for themselves, we contribute to the generous and just world Jesus wants. Sometimes that can be as easy as turning the channel on the radio or the TV.
Some time ago, Fr. Pedro Arrupe inherited the office of leading the Jesuits four centuries after St Ignatius Loyola died. He once said that, "the celebration of the Eucharist is always incomplete while there is hunger in the world."
Let's pray this weekend that we don’t change the hard challenges of the Gospel. Let’s accept its power to convert our hearts and minds that we might meet its challenges in regard to bringing dignity and sharing our possessions with those who have a just claim on them.
Every year at this time, I’m asked to confirm parishioner status for families who choose Catholic schools for their children ~ in order for them to get a discounted tuition rate.
Different pastors have different criteria to confirm this status. Mine is simple… help me to know who you are; come to Mass, and give financial support the parish regularly.
Some schools ask me to sign a statement that affirms this family is active, participating, and financially supporting the parish. That translates to: is the family known to me as pastor? Are they involved in parish life? Do they make regular contributions?
Three simple questions; giving one complicated answer. The only way to answer truthfully is to look at the family’s life at the parish. Do we know them to be involved in parish life? Do we have a record of regular financial contributions? If the answer is “no,” how can I truthfully sign my name? If I indeed don’t know the family, and we have no knowledge that they are contributing to support us, should I sign? Wouldn’t that be lying?
The only way around it is to be know by me or the parish staff, and be regular with your financial contributions…. We do keep records to help with your own tax preparation, as contributions to the parish are tax deductable according to the law, but tuition expenses are not.
Ever think of a January cruise in the Caribbean? Join Fr. Dennis departing Phoenix in January, 2017 ~ that’s coming up fast ~ for a 7-day cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Plan ahead. This trip has space available at a low price, but once the departure date gets closer, the price will change… Pick up information in the parish office. See Fr. Dennis for more information.