Dear Parishioners and Friends,
On Saturday, July 30 at Sacred Heart, we celebrated the First Profession of Vows of six young men in the Congregation of Holy Cross. Thank you for praying for these men who will return to Notre Dame this week for four years of graduate studies. I am grateful to have our Holy Cross novitiate in Cascade and for the novices to join us throughout the year. Our next class of novices will arrive in a couple of weeks.
Also, Fr. Neil Wack, CSC will be preaching here at Sacred Heart this weekend. He served here as associate pastor a number of years ago, and is now our Vocation Director for the US Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Welcome, Fr. Neil!
Luke’s gospel (12:13-21) sets our priorities on the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” This passage challenges us in our human priorities and offers us a check and balance for our consciences and how we live our lives.
Luke is always trying to pry our hands and hearts off of greed, mistrust, and the accumulation of possessions. Why does this gospel writer focus on this? He focuses on our earthly possessions and even our human relationships and ties because he understands the value of what Jesus is offering us: the Kingdom of Heaven. Luke, in his community nearly a hundred years after Jesus Christ, believed that he would soon return. Luke wants us to be prepared for Jesus’ Second Coming. Luke does not want anyone left out of the true value of Christ, our place in the Heavenly Kingdom. He does not want you to be left out either.
We live in a very complicated time in history where greed is real. We value having more and saving less. We want to be more prosperous than our parents. We cling to and are even addicted to our technology. Our lives have become much more self-centered even as instant communication with the world has expanded our horizons about the needs of people. Our face time with people, with friends and family, has diminished with our noses in our phones. The world opens up with a click or a password, yet the deep human needs of others often elude us. We need to get our hands dirty in the real needs of people and not just read about those needs on our phones. Our possessions are many, and our ties to greed and having “more” are tight and secure. We need to listen to Jesus.
It is easy to store up stuff. It is not as easy to relate to what Jesus offers. It is easier to cling to possessions than to cling to harmony, forgiveness, love, and kindness. Our attention span is short and Jesus is trying to make a dent in what our hearts desire. He wants to be in relationship with us, but so often we just do not have time for him. We have little patience for how he can change our hearts.
So how can you become rich in what matters to God? This treasure is simply a relationship. Sometimes even religion gets in the way of what Jesus offers us. Most people see faith and religion as a set of rules to keep so they will get to heaven; what religion and faith really offer us is the way to crack open our hearts to look at the love God has for us and how we live that love in the world. The reason why Jesus wants to get our attention through our possessions is so that we can learn to share what we have with other people. Jesus offers us love and calls us to share love in the world and to work diligently for justice. Jesus offers us forgiveness and challenges us to forgive others. Jesus offers us healing and so we are to work among the marginalized and broken to make healing manifest in our world.
Jesus wants us to examine our relationship with our “stuff” so that we can ultimately call Jesus our true possession. Jesus wants us. He desires our pain and ambiguities. He wants to live fully in our priorities so that we can bring him to other people.
Here are some questions to consider this week:
How might Jesus be calling you into a new priority of prayer and service?
What stands in your way in moving toward a deeper relationship with Jesus?
Is it possible for you to put limits on frivolous activities and use your time for self-reflection, prayer, and putting yourself in the shoes of people who suffer or who possess less than you?
Is it possible for you to value prayer as a way to create real and radical change in your life? Can you move away from using prayer as a means to validate your own prejudice, hatred and self-absorption? Can you move away from using prayer as a way to always be correct and to validate your own way of thinking?
Can you find some peace this week and rest in prayer and gratitude?