October 30 – Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” (Oscar Wilde)
The wonderful story of Zacchaeus in this Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that the only thing small in life is some people’s ability to see only limits and not possibilities. It is amazing how quickly we can make a judgment about other people’s faults, and generalize that that has to be the whole of who that person is. We see what is wrong with others, and miss out on the amazing reality that even those who seem to be most limited can surprise us with depth and a goodness that at first glance might not appear to be there.
Jesus reminds us to look at the whole of the people we encounter, and the whole is usually a great mix of strengths and weaknesses. Rejoice in the complexity, for that is all of us! The determining factor is not so much what we see, but how we see it. And if we look only for the limits, that is what we will find. But seeking only what is wrong with a person ultimately reveals what might be wrong with us, or what we fear most about ourselves!
A limited vision produces a limited life, and a limited life produces limited joy.
Let’s practice larger vision this week, finding joy in discovering that an expanded vision of others produces the great charity of God, who looks at each one of us, cracks and all, and says “You are my beloved sons and daughters!”
Have a blessed week.
Sincerely, with love,
October 23 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Before God and the bus driver, we are all equal. (German proverb)
Today we read part two in Luke’s discourse on prayer. Last week, Jesus talked about the widow seeking justice from a corrupt judge who finally gave in after her persistence and reached a decision in her favor. Today’s parable is the familiar one of two people praying in the temple area: a Pharisee and a publican (tax collector).
Pope Francis, in his commentary on this parable, reminds us that the Pharisee is praying to himself. Instead of kneeling before the Divine Majesty, he prays a litany of thanksgiving that separates himself from the sinner who is praying nearby. Francis says: “In short, the pharisee, who holds himself to be just, neglects the most important commandment: love of God and of neighbor.”
The tax collector, realizing how much his profession was disliked because he worked for the Roman government and aware of his sinfulness, simply says: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Just like anyone who is part of a 12-step program, the publican admits his powerlessness and trusts in God who is rich in mercy.
I find it very sad that in this election year we are so divided over political differences. Candidates are not talking as much about the pressing issues as throwing pot shots and vile accusations. During this past summer 2016 we witnessed a lot of violence in our cities, causing us to examine our own attitudes about race, violence and poverty. The world seems so divided over religious and ethnic rivalries. I suggest that we need to imitate the tax collector and get down on our knees and pray for conversion in our hearts, trusting in Divine Mercy.
According to my liturgical calendar, we celebrate World Mission Sunday this weekend. We will focus this month at Three Holy Women on the ongoing support of our mission in Padibe, Uganda. Padre Tonio from San Ildefonso in Chiapas, Mexico will visit SS. Peter and Paul the weekend of Oct. 29-30.
Go be merciful.
Fr. Mike Michalski
October 16 – Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you are tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.” (Robert Strauss)
It goes without saying we are facing difficult times. It seems like we are facing insurmountable problems in our society, which, with the individual problems we face in our personal lives, leave us TIRED!
It seems like we take two steps forward and ten steps backward, and our bruised spirits long for the good old days when life seemed so much simpler. It would be easy to slip into a nostalgia that would ease our tired souls.
But we know that the good old days never really existed, and this human condition which we are in always has limits that wear us out, as it did our ancestors.
We have a choice. Either live in the land of defeat and regret, with no hope of brighter tomorrows. Or we can follow the Bible, a long story of human struggle and failure, but a bright and hopeful story of God’s providential love. We are challenged this Sunday to PERSEVERE! God’s plan, elusive as it might seem, is as close as the beating of our hearts and those who have gone before us, and is always a story of triumphant love. We must live in the moment, and hang in there, for we know the end of all stories of faithful struggle. And the answer is God’s love.
A love always ready to provide, but necessary for us even when we are tired, to be ready when the answers come! Somehow things work out…
Just wait and persevere! (And maybe take a nap!)
Sincerely, with love,
October 9 – Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“The Lord gave me, Brother Francis, thus to begin doing penance in this way: for when I was in sin, it seemed too bitter for me to see lepers. And the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness of soul and body.” (Taken from the Testament of St. Francis of Assisi)
Since both the first reading and Gospel for this weekend talk about God’s healing power in the miraculous cure of leprosy, I thought I would briefly reflect on an incident in the life of St. Francis of Assisi whose Memorial we observed last week. According to his biographers, Francis had a natural horror of lepers. One day, while he was riding on the road, he came upon a leper. Even though Francis felt terrified and revolted at the sight of the leper, he dismounted from his horse and ran to kiss him. As the leper stretched out his hand, he received both money and a kiss. When Francis mounted his horse, he looked around and could not see the leper anywhere.
Luke tells us in today’s gospel that Jesus met ten lepers as he passed along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. Many times we see the modern lepers of our society on street corners, in alleyways, near the freeway and hidden in abandoned buildings. Jesus knew the risk of approaching or touching a leper since it would make him ritually impure and cut off from society. He responded to their cry of pity. Nine of the lepers returned home to be reunited with their families and return to their normal routine. Only the Samaritan, rejected by the Jews, returned to give thanks. While he was cured, he still belonged to a religious sect that lived on the margins and was never fully accepted.
One of the hallmarks of a Christian is the desire for communion with as many people as possible. Like you, I continually struggle with the tendency to judge certain people or exclude them from my life. God’s love, revealed in Jesus, challenges me to be faithful to the gospel call of love of all people. I continually need to widen the tent of my horizon and welcome all just like St. Francis of Assisi did.
A special word of congratulations to Three Holy Women Parish as they have their Sweet 16 Celebration today. We are grateful to God for the marvelous deeds He has accomplished throughout these past 16 years. Thanks Fr. Tim for your faith and persistence as you worked with the parish leadership to create a dynamic parish family.
Peace and all good.
Fr. Mike Michalski
October 2 – Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision.”
Our Scripture this Sunday challenges us to look at our vision! It reminds us that there is so much at stake not just by what we see, but by how we see things.
Life seems pretty bleak right now. It would take pages to list all that is wrong with life, be it in our personal lives, our family lives, or the life of our city, country and world. Be it from a first look at the newspaper, or a conversation at lunch or at work, or a glimpse at the nightly news, it seems pretty clear that we are in trouble. Our days are hemmed in by darkness.
Our eyes and our souls are filled with worry, misery, doubt, fear.
Then we hear the prophet Habakkuk: “For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” We are told by Jesus that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, magnificent and powerful things would happen.
Our challenge as believers is to wait for the vision of God to shine through our experiences. He has made a promise to us in Christ Jesus, and in our surrender, like Christ, to the creative and restorative vision of our heavenly Father, the power of healing Spirit will shine forth. In our waiting we must start to act more and more like it will.
Even in the blindness of our worry, misery, doubt, fear, the vision of God will come forth. We must say yes. And open the eyes of our hearts! And have some vision even in our blindness!
Sincerely, with love,