Posts by Cathy Raffaele

From the Archives of Fr. Metzler’s Homilies: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Generous With God’s Gifts

Isaiah 55:6-11   Philippians 1:20-30    Matthew 20:1-16

The theme of the Gospel today is generosity – the generosity of the Lord who is hiring all. Jesus is painting a picture for us of a man who obviously isn’t hiring people because of what they can do for him, but because of what he can do for them.

Scripture scholars tell us that this Gospel was a warning to the Christians of Jewish ancestry. It is presenting a picture of the equal value between Jewish and Gentile believers. The gentiles enter the church later than the Jews but get equal treatment.

Old timers in the Church will have to admit to a tendency to think that we have some special standing with God that “newbies” do not have. It’s as if they believe there is a long period of building up seniority. The longer the seniority, the better is our standing with God. But it is not so, says Jesus.

You’ve heard of companies where the pecking order is measured by the nearness of the employees’ parking spaces to the front door. When someone leaves the company, other employees are begging for their parking space even if it is only three spaces closer to the door. We have an innate need to measure our place. We want to progressively be moving up from the cubicle, to a real office, to the office with a window, to the office on the corner, to the office nearest to the president’s. Leave people alone and they will come up with their own pecking order.

Johnny Carson tells a story about the time when, as the host of the Tonight Show, he made a joke about there being a toilet paper shortage in the city. The next day there really was a shortage because all the viewers who had watched his show ran out afterward and bought up extra toilet paper just in case. There was no trust in the fact that people, if they chose to work together, could ration out the toilet paper to make sure there would be enough for everyone. People panicked and grabbed not what they needed, but more than they needed, leaving others with nothing at all.

Heaven consists of a heartfelt desire for the good of others rather than our own good. If you are motivated primarily by a need to provide for yourself you won’t be very comfortable in “heaven”.

Be thankful you don’t get what you deserve. Yet, God is more generous to us than we deserve.

God is being merciful, not fair, and this parable is what mercy looks like. Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more!   “It is simply a fact that people regularly understand and appreciate God’s grace as applied to themselves, but they fear and resent seeing it applied to others. Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions is grace. Grace is always amazing grace.

Jesus himself is the best parable of the extravagantly generous God. He makes far too much wine at the wedding at Cana; far too much bread for the hungry crowd; he tells a story about forgiving a debt far too large ever to be paid; and he tells us to forgive, not seven times, but seventy times seven. And as the ultimate revelation of extravagant affection, he willingly gives up his life for us on a cross.

At communion, we are given a little bit of bread and just a sip of wine…our hungers are so deep. Yet in a strange new math, just that little bread and one sip is enough to feed us forever

The good news of the gospel is that we share the extravagantly generous Spirit of Jesus. Sometimes we too can act with extravagant generosity, beyond the rational rules of justice. God’s kingdom is meant to be a new order of grace. Isn’t there always something unexpected and wonderful about a gift of love, even a kind word? A gift is never earned in the way that a wage is earned, and expected.   (W. Metzler)

 

Readings: September 24, 2017, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from The Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Isaiah 55:6-11

Seek God while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness. “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.”

God’s Decree.

“For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry so will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

  • Philippians 1:20-30

Brothers and sisters: “So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!

And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.

As long as I’m alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I’d choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it’s better for me to stick it out here. So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues.

Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ.

  • Matthew 20:1-16

  A Story About Workers

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.

“Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.

“He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’

“They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’

“He told them to go to work in his vineyard.

“When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’

“Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar.

Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’

“He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’

“Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”

 

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: September 24, 2017, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 55:6-11   Philippians 1:20-30    Matthew 20:1-16

Justice is a theme that we reflect upon often. Indeed it means different things to different people. For some it means the minimum that we can do to be just. To many of us it means the over whelming generosity of God as we read in last Sunday’s gospel.  The Lord can never be out done in generosity. If all we ever had in life was “what we deserve” it wouldn’t be much.

After all we fall very short of the Lord’s expectations. God’s justice is about treating everyone with dignity and honor and it’s a matter of assurance that each person is loved and cared for. No one gets left behind. In our society we hear much about justice and retribution that those who work the hardest are compensated  the most, and others deserve what they don’t have. The justice of God goes way beyond this. For He looks beyond our faults and sees our needs. The justice of God includes love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and reconciliation. After all, He gave up His only Son to save each of us.

At this time when there is so much hate and suffering we must know that our Lord is not only concerned, but that He does something about it. Indeed generosity and justice go hand in hand. Maybe we should take a look at this week what our own notion of justice may be, and how does it play out in our day to day affairs? God gives us not what we deserve, but what we need.

 

 

In Memoriam: Mary Cravotta Wilps

Mary Cravotta Wilps

d. September 15, 2017

May she rest in peace.

 

In Memoriam: Mary K. “Mamie” Byrnes Mohr

Mary K. “Mamie” Byrnes Mohr

d. September 6, 2017

May she rest in peace.

 

Prayer for Recovery After Disaster

Readings: September 17, 2017, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • Sirach   27:30 – 28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins? If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

© New American Bible

  • Romans 14:7-9

Brothers and sisters:

None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

                           © New American Bible

  • Matthew 18:21-35

A Story About Forgiveness

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven. “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market. “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt. “The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by thethroat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’  “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king. “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

© The Message Bible

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: September 17, 2017, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:30-38:7    Romans 14:7-9    Matthew 18:21-35

At the beginning of Pope Francis’ Papacy he talked about the importance of forgiveness and mercy. As a matter of fact we completed A Year of Mercy.

Since that time he has repeatedly spoken of the marvelous truth that God’s mercy has no bounds. That’s the crust of today’s gospel. We must always forgive others as we have been forgiven. When we put limits on our mercy and forgiveness we act in contrary to what we ask from others and from God. Imagine how it would be if there was no forgiveness for all of our misdeeds. There would be no such thing as eternal life or Heaven for us. As it is God’s Mercy is boundless. That’s how deeply He loves us.

So my dear brothers and sisters struck by the depth of God’s love, how could we do anything but bow down to him and worship, and show that same mercy to the people around us. Mercy and forgiveness does not mean that we overlook sin, injustice, hatred, and bigotry. We must always stand up to these moral challenges. The golden rule is we hate the sin, but could never hate the sinner. God’s forgiveness is made to be at the heart of how we think and act, and live each day. It’s to be a way of life.

During these trying times there is so much hatred. It is easy to have a hard heart. Indeed there is hardly any challenge in life which is greater than this. We must be able to be reconciled and ready to forgive those who have hurt us, harmed us, or those that we love. God grant us the ability to do this. Grant us the ability to see the face of God in all no matter how far they have gone away from God.

 

 

In Memoriam: Carmelina Masucci Barbati

Carmelina Masucci Barbati

d. September 3, 2017 at 97 years of age

May she rest in peace.

Prayer for Retrouvaille Couples

Dear Lord,

This weekend, the Friday night couples are gathering in the following Retrouvaille Communities hoping to find compassion and healing.

Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Cincinnati/Tri-State, Cincinnati, Oh, USA; Cleveland, Oh, USA; Cochabamba, Bolivia, Spanish; Durban, South Africa, KwaZulu- Natal Province; Inland NorthWest, Eastern Washington & Northern Idaho, USA; Long Island/Metro NY, USA; New England (MA, NH, ME, RI, VT), USA;Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Red River Retrouvaille, Fargo, ND, USA; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Diego, Ca, USA; Santiago Cordillera, Chile; Trinidad and Tobago

Lord, You know how fragile these couples are right now, searching, almost beyond hope, for guidance and direction.  Please hold these couples in the palm of Your hand and cover them with Your warmth and protection so they can start on the road to recovery from their brokenness.

Lord, we also pray for hurting couples throughout the world, that they may recognize Your love in their lives.   Amen.