27 Sunday A - Vineyard and Stewardship

Story Starters: From Fr. Tony Kadavil’s Collection 

1) Wild Vines in the Lord’s Vineyard

In his book From Scandal to Hope, Fr. Benedict Groeschel (EWTN), examines the roots of the clergy sex-abuse scandal. He details how disloyalty spread through seminaries, universities, chanceries and parishes. The most notorious case was that of Fr. Paul Shanley who helped found the North American Man-Boy Love Association in 1979. He lectured in seminaries, once with a bishop in attendance, maintaining that “homosexuality is a gift of God and should be celebrated,” and that there was no sexual activity that could cause psychic damage-- “not even incest or bestiality.” No wonder Fr. Charles Curran had little trouble getting seventy-seven theologians to sign a protest against Humanae Vitae, an encyclical which reaffirmed marital chastity! A few years later the Catholic Theological Society (CTS), published Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought, a study which accepted cohabitation, adultery and homosexuality. Now, however, all these chickens have come home to roost. We are paying the price – in lawsuits, public humiliation and loss of credibility. The media gave us a glimpse of the enormous destruction in the Lord’s vineyard done by those wicked tenants. They did so with great relish because the scandals discredit a teaching authority they, by and large, find annoying. But this attention by the media has had consequences the media probably did not intend. It has alerted Catholics to the widespread pillaging of the vineyard, which ultimately means the damnation of souls. Fr. Groeschel asks, “Does all this scandal shake your faith in the Church?” He answers, “I hope so, because ultimately your faith should not be in the Church. Ultimately your faith is in Jesus Christ. It is because of him that we accept and support the Church. We believe in and belong to the Church because Christ established it on his apostles." We see in today’s Gospel that the owner of the vineyard is God. He will care for his Church, not by committees or document, but by raising up saints who will properly tend the vineyard.  

Marriage Secret: How the wife of a severely brain injured man can say she's in Love

Happy and Every year is more Fun
Two college sweethearts, who learned the meaning of unconditional love after one of them suffered a brain injury, which left him subsequently mentally and physically disabled, are set to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary this week in conjunction with the release of their book, Eight Twenty Eight, which chronicles the journey of their special marriage.

Ian and Larissa Murphy have experienced life's lowest lows since the day Ian got into a car accident in 2006 on his way to work. He had been saving up for an engagement ring after having dated Larissa for 10 months when that tragic accident occurred. Larissa could have moved on with her life, but instead she moved in with his family to help care for him during a time when he could not walk, talk or eat.

26 Sunday A - Words and Deeds

Opening Story:
“A companion of Francis of Assisi, Brother Juniper is remembered as a “fool for Christ” and there are all sorts of wild stories about his antics. He was notorious for constantly giving his possessions away and living with a winsomeness that sometimes got him in trouble. At one point he was ordered by a superior not to give away his outer garment to the beggars anymore. But it wasn’t long before he met someone in need who asked him for some clothing. He said, “My superior has told me under obedience not to give my clothing to anyone. But if you pull it off my back, I certainly will not prevent you.” (Another version: "I can't give, but you can take.") Francis is said to have joked about how he wished for a forest of Junipers.”
“Lord, you did not withhold even your life for our benefit. If nothing is too much to offer you, remind us that nothing is too much to sacrifice for our brothers and sisters. Amen.”

Many Pairs: Jesus presents us with many parables of pairs to show how God's mercy works far beyond the rules of justice.
a. Pharisee and Publican praying in the temple
b. Prodigal son and elder brother
c. Simon (Lk 7) and the sinner woman
d. Woman caught in adultery (Jn 8) and the Pharisees with stones
e. Two thieves hanging on the cross
f. Samaritan woman and the disciples
g. Priests and the good Samaritan

An associate pastor, new to the parish, saw the need to start a Bible study group where people could learn to read the word of God and deepen their faith. After service one morning, he presented the idea to the people and received a unanimous and enthusiastic feedback. "It is a wonderful idea," they all said. Then the young associate pastor went and told the pastor that the people were happy with the idea of starting a Bible class. The older and more experienced pastor told the associate to rephrase the question and consult the people again. The following day the young priest asked the same congregation, "Who would like to sign up for the Bible study group? Only four hands went up. Then it dawned on the young man that saying yes to an idea is one thing and doing what is required is another. (Fr. Munachi, cssp)

25 Sunday A - Workers at the Vineyard

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration

When we assemble around the Lord’s table we bless God for his forgiveness, mercy, generosity and love: he has sent us his Son to bring us pardon, to transform us from being isolated individuals into the community of his love, and he gives us the hope of everlasting life. So, as God’s holy people, we recall that God is merciful and forgiving; God is life-giving and generous; and that God is love.

Michel DeVerteuil
General Comments

We have another parable this Sunday, one that many people find particularly difficult to interpret.

As I said in last week’s meditation guidelines, method is always the root problem with interpreting
parables, and to adopt the right method we must have a right understanding of what a parable is. It is not the kind of story where we identify “good guys” and “bad guys” and then draw the conclusion that we must imitate the good and avoid being like the bad.

25 Sunday A - Job Security - NCR

From the NCR:

What the parable of the vineyard workers really says

Father's gently modulated homily followed, as best I can remember it:

24 Sunday A - Forgiveness - Seven Times

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration

We often describe ourselves as ‘the People of God’ and as ‘a people set apart’; and very often such names have been misinterpreted by Christians to mean that we are somehow ‘God’s elite’ or that he has some special friendship for us and our doing that he does not show to others. Today’s gospel confronts us with the reality of what it means to be ‘a people set apart’. We are the ones who must reject the desires for vengeance and retaliation, and in the face of those who offend us must work for reconciliation. To start afresh, working for what is good, after one has been hurt is never easy; it goes against a deeply embedded instinct in our humanity that calls for retribution. But to be the group who seek to continue the reconciliation of the world that was accomplished in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus is what we are about. Now, as we begin to celebrate this mystery, let us remind ourselves that as ‘a people set apart’ we must be willing to be those who bring forgiveness and new hope into the world. Let us ask ourselves whether we are willing to be reconcilers.

Exaltation of the Cross

1.     Fr. John Speekman:

 The Triumph of the Cross - Year A
Numbers 21:4-9; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17 

The Cross in our lives usually occupies the same space we put all the other unpleasant, unwanted things – disappointments, hurts, humiliations, failures - all the burdensome things we don't want to remember, all the broken relationships and sufferings of our lives. Needless to say it's not a pleasant spot to go; it's a dark, uncomfortable place, to be avoided at all costs. 

23 Sunday A - Prayer and Reconciliation

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration

We have just declared that we have gathered here as the people who in the Spirit’s power follow the way of the Son to the Father. However, we all know that following the way of the Lord is much easier said than done. Our own shortcomings lead us to stumble again and again, while the shortcomings of other Christians both hurt us directly and embarrass us. Yet we must continue our task of being disciples, we must be prepared to take the risk of pointing out the failings of others, and, what is even more difficult, we have to have the humility to hear and learn from those who point out our blind spots, weaknesses, and failings. Let us reflect on our need for forgiveness, our need to grow as disciples, and our need to have greater self-knowledge.