Fr. Romanus' Letter of August 20th
This Sunday’s gospel is about a Canaanite woman from the district of Tyre and
This background is important for the sake of those who might be troubled by the way this woman was treated. It also helps us understand why Jesus compared the granting of her request to throwing food meant for children to the dogs. You may be shocked that Jesus would say something so mean to this poor woman desperately asking for help. Note that the woman did not take offense at Jesus’ remark. She understood why she was being ignored and why she was getting an unfavorable treatment. Nonetheless, meanness to other people is incompatible with Jesus’ message of love and tolerance.
This gospel underscores the understanding that Matthew’s gospel was aimed primarily at a Jewish audience. In his interaction with this woman, Jesus makes clear that his mission was “to the lost sheep of the house of
It is possible that Jesus was tough on this woman in order to draw out her faith. As we know, faith was a necessary condition for most of Jesus’ miracles. By acting as if disinterested in her request, he may have solicited her manifestation of faith. Her faith was evident in her response, “even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their master.” Jesus acknowledged her faith by stating, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” At that instant her possessed daughter was healed. This Canaanite woman teaches us the need for persistence in prayer.
The story is a lesson for those who are inclined to call on God only in times of need. There are those who do not care about God and some who proudly proclaim their faithlessness. They say they are too intellectually sophisticated to believe in God and claim that religion is only for the feeble-minded. When faced with major life crisis, these same people may call out to God for help after all other options are exhausted. We hope that they would not get the same response as this woman. Like her, they would have to swallow their pride and proclaim faith in God.
As we live in a different society today, one could argue that Jesus’ reference to giving children’s food to dogs may have lost some of its punch. Some people love their pets so much that they would have no problem giving them food meant for children. While many children are starving all over the world, some pets live like kings. We remember the case of the
Have a great week!
Fr. Romanus' Letter of August 13th
In this Sunday’s gospel, we are presented with the sequence of events that culminated in Jesus walking on water. After feeding the five thousand, Jesus made his disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side of the sea, while he dismissed the crowd. Then, he went up the mountain to pray. Afterwards, he caught up with the disciples who were then a few miles offshore by walking on water.
We know from last week’s gospel that Jesus’ need for privacy following the death of John the Baptist was interrupted. He put that need on the back burner to meet the needs of the crowd. Hence, after dismissing both the crowd and his disciples, Jesus eventually found time for himself. The time alone was an opportunity for prayer and reflection. It is a reminder that in the midst of our busy lives, we should still strive to find quality time to be with God in a suitable and quiet space. A time of prayer and reflection helps us to remain focused and on message.
For Jesus, the death of John the Baptist was a sign that the mission was becoming more precarious, and gave rise to a heightened awareness of the presence of evil in the world. In this context, walking on water becomes a sign of victory over the forces of evil. The name for sea in ancient Hebrew is Yamm. The name also refers to an evil sea god in ancient Canaanite myth. For the Hebrew people, Yamm is the chaos monster whose main objective is creating crisis and raking havoc on people’s lives. By walking on water, Jesus shows that God’s power supersedes all powers, natural and supernatural. It is also a reminder that both are at the mercy of God.
Obviously the disciples were terrified when they saw Jesus walking on water toward their boat, thinking that he was a ghost. Jesus was quick to reassure them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” However, Peter, being the daring disciple he was, demanded proof, saying, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Once the request was granted, Peter sprang into action, stepping out of the boat and walking on water toward Jesus (the ghost). That could hardly be described as the normal response of a frightened person. You and I would rather stay as far away from the ghost as possible. Not Peter, who was sometimes ready to risk all for his faith.
However, realizing the terrific waves and turbulent sea around him, Peter’s faith was shaken. He started sinking and called out to Jesus for help. Fortunately, Jesus was quick to come to the rescue and asked why he doubted. We often embrace the life of discipleship with great enthusiasm only to be reminded that the spirit is willing but the body is weak. The turbulent waves in the sea of life could be terrifying and have a tendency to shake the faith of even the most ardent believer. Like Peter, we need to realize that God is not far in times of trouble. Relying solely on human ability and willpower may not be enough. Moreover, those times we need God the most are not the best times to exercise doubts about God or God’s abilities.
Have a great week.
Fr. Romanus' Letter of July 30th
The gospels these last two Sundays have been about the kingdom of heaven. In these gospels, Jesus uses parables to describe what the
There are seven parables in chapter 13 of Matthew’s gospel, all dealing with present and future realities of the kingdom. They are commonly referred to as the kingdom parables. Two of the parables deal with the final judgment, namely, the parable of the wheat and the weeds from last Sunday and the parable of the net from this Sunday. The other five parables, namely, the parables of the sower, the mustard seed, and the leaven from last Sunday, and the parables of the treasure and the fine pearl from this Sunday all deal with the present reality of the kingdom. The church teaches that the kingdom is already present but not yet fully. The fullness of the kingdom will be realized in heaven.
This Sunday’s parables present God’s kingdom as something of great value. Jesus describes the kingdom as a treasure buried in a field which one finds and hides again. Then, out of joy, goes and sells all one has and buys the field. This parable has the same message as that of the fine pearl of great value that a merchant finds and sells everything to buy. These parables convey the message that the kingdom of God is a great treasure that needs to be discovered and not just taken for granted. The question is: How does one discover the
It is not enough to discover hidden treasures, one must also make every effort to possess them. That is the idea behind selling everything to purchase the treasure field. It is about investment and risk-taking in anticipation of tremendous reward. One may ask: How do we do this? We do it through generous use of our resources, time and talent in the service of God. We invest in the hidden treasures of heaven through generous financial support of our parish and the archdiocese, volunteering our time for service projects, and by supporting human concerns efforts. Those who cling to their earthly treasures may find heavenly treasures rather elusive. To one who does not understand, these efforts at possessing God’s hidden treasures might seem wasteful.
The parable of the net towards the end of our Sunday gospel deals with final judgment. References to final judgment are often unsettling and some preachers avoid it. Jesus compares the
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Fr. Romanus' Letter of July 16th
Watching the news on television is often depressing. Daily news has become a litany of tragedies in one form or another, far and near. News of people killed in reckless drunk driving accidents! News of armed robberies and other criminal activities often with fatal results! News of natural events like wild fires, storms, earthquakes and mudslides that claim human lives! We also hear news of fatalities associated with parents leaving their children in vehicles in 90 degree temperatures with windows rolled up.
These tragedies are not made up by the news networks, but are actual tragedies that significantly impact people’s lives. One gets the sense that the world is a very dangerous place to live and no one is safe anywhere. Hence, some ask: Why is there so much evil around us? Why does God allow terrible things to happen? Why didn't God do a better job creating the world?
These questions are not unique to our time in history. The people of Jesus’ time who experienced the oppression of the Roman Emperors, the ravaging effects of poverty, disease and natural disasters, asked similar questions. For the sake of those tempted to blame God for human tragedies, Jesus addresses the parable of the weeds in today's gospel. The parable likens the
The darnel, the weed referred to in the gospel looks exactly like wheat. It even has a head similar to wheat. When the plant is young, it is almost impossible to distinguish it from wheat. It is much easier to distinguish them when they are fully grown. That explains why the master in our gospel parable told the servants not to pull the weeds until harvest time. At harvest time, it will be easier to tell them apart by the fruits. The weed will be collected first and burnt, while the wheat is harvested for the kingdom.
By this parable Jesus indicates that God is not the source of evil. Rather, evil is the work of the enemy who prefers to work at night. So often, we come across people who have stopped going to church or who simply walked away from God on account of some past tragedy for which they hold God responsible. Their reasoning is the same age-old logic: If God is all good, why did he permit such and such tragedy in spite of my prayers? Jesus makes clear that God is not the source of evil. Some tragedies are due to human choices and human error since God created us with the freedom to choose and to act. Good choices have good results while bad choices have bad consequences. Obviously, some other tragedies are part of the order of nature.
The short parables of the mustard seed and the leaven illustrate the dynamic nature of faith and the
Human history is replete with stories of people who fully utilized their potentials to make the world a better place. That is true of people who invented the various technologies that have made life easier. It is also true of the various writers who penned down ideas and thoughts that still inspire. It is also true of the saints who exemplify by their lives the human potential to be one with God. Every time we do something good, we are helping to counter the effects of evil.
Have a great week!
Fr. Romanus' Letter of July 9th
Sunday’s gospel reflection: This Sunday’s gospel (Matt 11:25-30) begins with Jesus’ expression of gratitude to the Father for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to the humble rather than to the wise and the learned. Of course, Jesus is not condemning wisdom and learning, but the tendency for the wise and the learned to gravitate towards pride and arrogance. These often mask a person’s insecurity and vulnerability. There is nothing wrong with having a high self-esteem. However, thinking highly of oneself at the expense of everyone or looking down on others, reflects a failure to recognize our dependence on God. Only the humble could be led and inspired by the word of God.
In the second part of the gospel, Jesus invites all who labor and are burdened to come to him for much deserved rest. In the immediate, it is an invitation to find quiet time to be with God in spite of our very busy lives. Ultimately, it is an end-time invitation to God’s kingdom. The burdens of life are anything but ‘easy’ and ‘light.’ However, they become so when we realize that we do not carry them alone. God is by our side, joined by the yoke.
Parish Trustees Re-elected: About six weeks ago, I informed you that the term of office for our two trustees had expired and that I was re-nominating them to continue as trustees. I also invited anyone who wished to nominate someone else to do so. Since there were no other nominations, there was no need for an election. Hence, in accordance with the rules, these trustees are to be considered re-elected. To maintain the staggered nature of trustee terms, Julia Atkinson, the Trustee Treasurer, will serve a one year term in her position. Mark Kuchta, the Trustee Secretary, will serve a two year term. Please, join me in congratulating Mark and Julia on their re-election and their willingness to continue service to our parish as trustees.
Thanks to our out-going council members: As you know, the pastoral council is composed of dedicated men and women who work with me to ensure the smooth running of our parish. Council members serve three year renewable terms, unless they are completing someone’s term. Please, join me in thanking the following council members who will be leaving the council, namely: Roby Luckett, whose term expired, and who served as liaison to the Multi-Cultural Commission; Dan McNeely, who relocated further north due to a new employment. He served as council secretary and helps with maintaining our Facebook page. We greatly appreciate the dedicated service of these council members and wish them well.
Welcome our new council members: Two new members have also joined the pastoral council, namely: Yolanda Coly and Chilero Agwoeme. They will jointly serve as liaisons to the MultiCultural Commission. Ginny Ebert joined the council half-way into the year to fill in a vacancy. She has been elected to a new term and will continue as liaison to the School Advisory Committee. Join me in congratulating these parishioners on their membership on the pastoral council.
Pastoral Council Leaders: Joe Ratke was re-elected as council chair. Paul Bina whose term on the council expired was renewed for another term, and will continue as liaison to the Finance Council. He was also re-elected as vice-chair of the pastoral council. Denise Wesserle was elected as council secretary.
I hope everyone had a Happy 4th!
Fr. Romanus' Letter of July 2nd
July 4th is a day dear to us, citizens of the United States of America, as we celebrate our Independence as a nation. Independence Day is in remembrance of the day the Continental Congress adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The declaration was made by 13 former British colonies following unjust treatment under the draconian leadership of King George III of England and the British parliament.
It all started in 1767, when a tea company in India owned by the British started losing money. To make up for the losses, the British colonial government imposed taxes on all tea sold in British colonies, including
The First Continental Congress convened in 1774, and put together a list of grievances against the British monarchy. This would become the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. George Washington took command of the Continental Army and battled the British in
The War of Independence dragged on until 1783, when the nation gained independence. However, it was not until 1941 that Congress officially declared the 4th of July a federal holiday. In celebrating independence, we recall the brave men and women who shed their blood for our freedom. Freedom should never be taken for granted. One of the founding fathers, Patrick Henry, was quoted as saying, “Give me freedom, or give me death.” It was a quote from a speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention in 1775. His speech was said to be instrumental in convincing the convention to pass a resolution that delivered the Virginian troops for the Revolutionary War.
As we gather for picnics, fireworks and parades, it is important not to forget why we are celebrating. We equally need to be mindful of those around the world who are still in bondage and fighting for their freedom. Like freedom fighters before them, many would make the ultimate sacrifice for the liberation of their people. It is wonderful that our nation is engaged in many of these international struggles for freedom.
As we support the fight for freedom overseas, we should also be cognizant of the need to protect the freedoms already won here at home. One of those is the freedom of religion which is under attack in some quarters and among some in our government. The Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Unfortunately, there has been gradual encroachment in this regard that seems to undermine the freedom of religion.
Hence, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared the two weeks leading up to the 4th of July as “Fortnight for Freedom.” They are calling for special prayers, study, catechesis and public action to support the ongoing struggle to protect religious freedom and freedom of conscience in our nation. Wishing everyone a Happy 4th!