Sunday, October 13, 2019

+ 28thSunday C +

Jesus’ passion for God and for us leads him to a certain village on his way to Jerusalem.  By passion I mean, as James Fowler said, “committed zeal, the enthusiastic giving of all that one is and has.”

Passion made him an itinerant rabbi who teaches and heals, who eats with us, laughs with us, and spends all night in prayer.

Soon it will lead him to the cross. In that passion we discover the terrible love of God, refusing to ever give up on us, foreseeing and enduring our sins and our weakness, still choosing to be with us.

Still, it is so easy to be discontented and ungrateful, and skeptical of any commitment.  I accept my relatively comfortable life as my due. I so easily make my heart a gated community.

Before the Crucified One I beg the grace to feel shame at how I have betrayed love, confusion and awe at pardon still freely offered, and sober joy that he still calls me to follow: “You did not choose me, I choose you.”

What a gift life is, all of it. How our lives depend on the love and sacrifice of so many before us. How our lives are graced by those who need our care.

In the passion of Christ, the passionate, contagious love God kindles within me, my intellect, will, abilities, weakness, suffering begin to be ordered to the service of my deepest desires, my deepest love.

When I suffer—because of the wrongdoing of others, the natural course of disease or nature, or even my own foolishness—I find Jesus God suffering with me, sharing with me his labor to overcome evil with good, to give life by laying down life.

Outside that certain village, ten lepers cry out to Jesus, keeping their distance. Jesus sees them and sends them back into town.

Ten are cured. Nine, free of shame and ostracism, congratulating themselves, rush back to their status, to their social circle.

One could not go back. Cured or not, the village would still reject him as a Gentile half-breed, tainted in his very being.

Instead, he returned to Jesus with thanksgiving—ready to follow, to go beyond safe confines and comfortable identities, ready to be a channel of healing and compassion for others.

Like the Samaritan leper, gratitude and thanksgiving make us forget about fitting in and being normal.

Our lives are broken open and, in our turn, like the One we follow, we experience rejection and ingratitude.

But, O the joy.  A few others do return to give thanks. A few others do catch fire. A few others multiply far beyond themselves the compassion they have received. What kind of leper am I?

Joy. Gratitude. Thanksgiving. I can think of no better introduction to reflect on giving and stewardship.

There is joy in giving—financial and otherwise—when the motive is gratitude, paying it forward, passing on what has been entrusted to you, making possible for others what others made possible for you.

I start with myself. I am incredibly grateful to be your pastor. This parish community is the joy of my life. We worship together. We learn together. We serve together. Together we are making a difference.  I see the joy that fills our parish:

  • We welcome everyone into our community and into our hearts.
  • We love our kids!…and grandkids!
  • We prepare our folks, older and younger, to receive the sacraments.
  • We share the riches of Ignatian spirituality and the Spiritual Exercises.
  • We visit the sick and the homebound.
  • We respect and defend life for every person
  • We feed the homeless and walk with them.
  • We stand with immigrants and refugees.
  • We oppose bigotry and racism.
  • We lift up the gifts of the LGBT community.
  • We lobby for just wages and workers’ rights.
  • We embrace and empower the gifts of women in Church leadership, governance, and sacramental ministry.
  • We are stewards of the environment.
  • We support the arts.
  • In short, we share the joy of the gospel.

So many lives are being changed for the better by all that happens here and all that you take from here to share with others—especially the poor, the vulnerable, those on the margins of our society—especially our children, who are learning here what it means to be a person of faith, a responsible citizen, a decent, caring human being.

You might want to explore our website to remind yourself of all that your gifts of time, talent, and treasure make possible, Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam et Bonum Animarum. (For the Greater Glory of God and the Thriving of People) 

Now I am asking you to reflect on the level of your giving to the offertory and the Historic Trust—and to take the next step in commitment to our parish:

  • If you are a registered parishioner, you have received a flier in the mail explaining what Take the Next Step Means. (If you didn’t receive one, we just happen to have them in the pews!)
  • If you haven’t registered in the parish, you can go to our website and let us know you are with us.
  • If you give occasionally consider becoming a regular giver by signing up for Faith Direct or Venmo on the website or asking for envelopes.
  • If you are already a faithful contributor, please consider increasing your offertory or Historic Trust contribution as you are able. Explore options for IRA distributions and planned giving.

Joy. Gratitude. Thanksgiving. God bless us. Every. One.

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