Monthly Archives: September 2019
Greetings in Christ,
A Happy Festival weekend to all! I wish to welcome all of you – together we make our festival a fruitful communion of love. I have witnessed the weeks of preparation, and I appreciate all that you have done. I’m very thankful to all our volunteers who have given their time, talent and treasure to make our festival a beautiful family affair for everyone to enjoy.
Our festival celebration has always been an activity of charity for everyone. Those who have exerted much effort, according to their God-given talents, have been blessed by God with the opportunity to love-through-service. Festival weekend is a great exercise of stewardship-in-action, as we see everyone sharing and receiving the spirit of joy in each other’s hearts. This is another chance for us to live God’s love as one Holy Family and a community of believers; together we are reflections of God’s love, bringing unity through diversity. Thank you all again and Enjoy!
Fr. Albert B. Becher
OT XXVI [C] (Sept 29): Am 6:1a, 4-7; 1Tm 6:11-16; Lk 16:19-31
Introduction: The main theme of this Sunday’s readings is the warning that the selfish and extravagant use of God’s blessings, like wealth, without sharing them with the poor and the needy is a serious sin deserving eternal punishment. Today’s readings stress the Covenant responsibility of the rich for the poor, reminding us of the truth that wealth without active mercy for the poor is great wickedness. It warns us against making money the goal of our existence.
Scripture lessons: Amos, in the first reading, issues a powerful warning to those who seek wealth at the expense of the poor and who spend their time and their money on themselves alone. He prophesies that those rich and self-indulgent people will be punished by God with exile because they don’t care for their poor and suffering brothers. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 146) praises Yahweh, who cares for the poor. In the second reading, Paul admonishes us to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness” – noble goals in an age of disillusionment – rather than riches. In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us a warning, pointing to the destiny of the rich man who neglected his duty to show mercy to poor Lazarus. The rich man was punished, not for having riches, but for neglecting the Scriptures and what they taught on sharing his blessings with the poor.
Life messages: 1) We are all rich enough to share our blessings with others. God has blessed each one of us with wealth or health or special talents or social power or political influence or a combination of many blessings. The parable invites us to share what we have been given with others in various ways instead of using everything exclusively for selfish gains.
2) We need to remember that sharing is the criterion of Last Judgment: Matthew (25:31ff) tells us that all six questions to be asked of each one of us by Jesus when He comes in glory as our judge are based on how we have shared our blessings from him (food, drink, home, mercy and compassion), in our brothers and sisters, anyone in need.
3) We need to treat the unborn as our brother/sister Lazarus. Lazarus in the 21st century is also our pre-born brother and sister. Many of these babies are brutally executed in their mother’s wombs. Their cries for a chance to live are rejected 4400 times a day in our country. The rich man was condemned for not treating Lazarus as his brother. We also will be condemned for our selfishness if we do not treat the preborn as our brothers and sisters.
4) Our choices here determine the kind of eternity we will have. It has been put this way: “Where we go hereafter depends on what we ‘go after,’ here!” Where we will arrive depends on what road we travel. We will get what we choose, what we live for. We are shaping our moral character to fit in one of two places.
OT XXV [C] (Sept 22): Readings: Am 8: 4-7; I Tm 2:1-8; Lk 16:1-13
Introduction: Today’s readings remind us that we are God’s stewards and that God expects faithful and prudent stewardship from us. They challenge us to use our God-given talents and blessings, like wealth, wisely to attain Heavenly bliss.
Scripture lessons summarized: Condemning the crooked business practices of the 8th century BC Jewish merchants of Judea, Amos, the prophet of social justice, reminds the Israelites and us to be faithful to our Covenant with Yahweh, God of justice. We need to practice justice and mercy to all, as God’s faithful stewards. Amos warns us also against gaining money by any means, as the goal of our life. In the second reading, St. Paul instructs the first century Judeo-Christians to become true stewards of the Gospel of Jesus, the only mediator, by preaching the “Good News” to the pagans and by including them in intercessory prayers, too. Today’s Gospel story tells us about the crooked but resourceful manager and challenges us to use our blessings — time, talents, health and wealth – wisely and justly so that they will serve us for our good, in eternity. We use our earthly wealth wisely when we spend it for our own needs in moderation and when we love and help the needy around us, because these are the purposes for which God has entrusted His blessings to us.
Returned overpayments: CNN reported that In March 1994, the huge defense contractor Martin Marietta returned to the Pentagon some 540 overpayments, totaling $135 million. Of course, that was nothing compared to the $1.4 billion in overpayments various defense contractors returned to the Pentagon in 1993. With a fresh reading of the parable of the unjust steward in today’s Gospel in mind, it is hard to read a report like that without wondering, where the truth is. Defense contractors do not belong to altruistic organizations. So why did Martin Marietta really return $135 million to the Pentagon? And if $1.4 billion in overpayments was returned in 1993, how much was not returned? The unjust steward in today’s Gospel parable was also not concerned with truth and justice, but with his survival by any means
Life messages: 1) We need to be faithful in the little things of life: Let us remember Saint John Chrysostom’s warning, “Faithfulness in little things is a big thing,” and the reminder of St. Theresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa, canonized September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis), “Do little things with great love.” Hence, let us not ignore doing little things, like acknowledging a favor by saying a sincere “thank you,” or congratulating others for their success, or sharing in their sorrows and/or offering them help and support in their needs. 2) We need to use our spiritual resources wisely. The manager in Jesus’ story used all his resources to secure his future. We must be no less resourceful. We have at our disposal the Holy Mass and the Seven Sacraments as sources of Divine grace, the Holy Bible as the word of God for daily meditation and practice, and the teaching authority of the Spirit-guided Church to direct us in our Christian life. We need to use these resources in such a way that it will be said of us, “And the master commended them because they acted so prudently.”3) We need to be prepared to give an account of our stewardship. We insure our houses against fire, storms, flood, and thieves, just as we insure our lives, buying life insurance, health insurance and car insurance. In the same way, let us insure ourselves for the one thing that most certainly will happen, namely, our meeting God to give Him an account of our lives. What really matters, at that time of our Private Judgment by God at the moment of our death, is how wisely we have used our blessings during our life, lovingly and generously sharing them with others in need.
Greetings in Christ,
I wish to express my gratitude to all of you who have given your contributions to our parish Capital Campaign, and to all our Campaign chairs and volunteers. You all have made these activities move forward – you have seen the narthex Campaign thermometer keep rising! Thank you to all our donors – both those whose names are on our Donor Wall, and those who have decided to remain anonymous. You have made yourselves channels of God’s blessings, addressing the needs identified during our Planning Study. For those who have not yet made a personal, sacrificial gift, I ask that you please participate. Your help is vital, and I hope you will be moved by the Holy Spirit to join with your fellow parishioners.
The parish Capital Campaign donations are over and above your weekly contributions for the operational activities of our parish. The accounting we are doing for this is separate – these pledges and payments are reserved for the projects we have identified for improvement – our worship spaces, an education building, and an administration building, in 3 Phases.
Every time we pray “Stewardship is a way of life,” we worship. We are offering our time, talent and treasures to our Lord. At Holy Family, we are called by Jesus, formed by the Spirit, united in His love, and sent to the world as stewards of God’s love.
Next weekend will be our Parish Festival. I welcome you all to this annual, beautiful activity which is a communion of love for all groups in our parish. I hope to see you then!
Fr. Albert B. Becher
Greetings in Christ,
There are three parables together in one Gospel this Sunday, talking about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and two sons. Getting lost is a human foible, while the one doing all the finding is the symbol of God’s way – the saving action of God. There is a famous maxim “to err is human, to forgive divine”. I have seen a simplified version of this on one of the bulletin boards at our Holy Family Catholic Academy, “to make a mess is human, to clean it up divine”.
Whether we are forgiving or forgiven, our lives must reflect a deep desire to be merciful and compassionate. We learn to imitate the image of a loving God, who keeps inviting us to return to Him. This is both a challenge and an invitation for us, to welcome back and be welcomed to the heart of God. This is the spirit of our parish of Holy Family, that welcomes everyone to the heart of God in the person of Jesus through Joseph and Mary. Jesus calls and welcomes us by his love. The Holy Spirit forms us together into a communion of God’s love. God then sends us into the world, to our families and work places, to bring the light of Christ by being His witnesses and the disciples of God’s love.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
OT XXIV [C] (Sept 15) Ex 32:7-11, 13-14; I Tm 1:12-17; Lk 15:1-32
Introduction: Today’s readings invite us to believe in a loving, patient, merciful, forgiving God. The Good News Jesus preached was that God is not a cruel, judging and punishing God. He is our loving and forgiving Heavenly Father who wants to save everyone through His Son Jesus. He is always in search of His lost and straying children, as Jesus explains in the three parables of today’s Gospel.
Scripture lessons summarized: In today’s first reading, taken from Exodus, Moses is imploring a forgiving God to have mercy on the sinful people who have abandoned Him and turned to idol-worship. He reminds God of His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Today’s Responsorial Psalm, Ps 51 is the song of the sinful man returning to God to seek His mercy. In today’s second reading, Paul tells Timothy that, although he, Paul, had been the greatest of sinners as the former persecutor of the Church, God has shown great mercy towards him. Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel has been called “the Gospel within the Gospel,” because it is the distilled essence of the Good News about the mercy of our forgiving Heavenly Father. The whole chapter is essentially one distinct parable, the “Parable of the Lost and Found,” with three illustrations: the story of the lost sheep, the story of the lost coin and the story of the lost son. These parables remind us that we have a God who welcomes sinners and forgives their sins whenever they return to Him with genuine contrition and resolution. The Hebrew term for repentance, teshuvá, means a return to God by a person who has already experienced God’s “goodness and compassion” (Ps.51).
Prodigal son’s prodigal father: He was a rebel, a college drop-out, a carouser, and a partier. He smoked, he drank Johnnie-Walker, he was a brawler, and he had more run-ins with the law than you would care to count. By his own admission, he was the quintessential prodigal son. But now, following the most respected, admired, and perhaps famous American of the twentieth century, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham not only has a tremendous, benevolent ministry called The Samaritan Purse, from which he meets needs all over the world, but is preaching the Gospel just as his dad did, to thousands and thousands of people. He is where he is today because he had a father who made sure the door was always open for his prodigal son.
1) We need to live every day as our merciful God’s forgiven children: Let us begin every day offering all our actions for God’s glory and praying for the strengthening anointing of the Holy Spirit so that we may obey God’s holy will by doing good and avoiding evil and try to live in God’s presence everywhere. Before we go to bed at night, let us examine our conscience and confess to God our sins and failures of the day, asking His pardon and forgiveness. Let us resolve to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation if we have fallen into serious sins. Let us continue to ask for God’s forgiveness before we receive Jesus in Holy Communion during the Holy Mass. Thus, let us live a peaceful life as forgiven prodigal children, getting daily reconciled with God our merciful and forgiving Father.
2) Let us ask God for the courage and good will to extend His forgiveness to others: Let us realize the truth that our brothers and sisters deserve and expect from us the same compassion, kindness, and forgiveness which we receive from our merciful God. As forgiven prodigals, we must become forgiving people, for Jesus taught us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray also for God’s Divine mercy on all of us who have fallen away from God’s grace. Let us open our eyes to see and ears to hear that Jesus is welcoming us back home!
OT XXIII [C] (9/8/2019) Wis 9:13-18b; Phlm 9-10, 12-17; Lk 14:25–33
Central theme: Today’s readings challenge us to the true Christian discipleship of total commitment to the will of God, putting God first in our lives.
Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom, instructs us to ask for the gifts of discernment and strength from the Holy Spirit so that we may do the will of God as His true disciples. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 90), instructs true disciples to lead holy lives by remaining constantly aware of the brevity and uncertainty of life.
The second reading, taken from St. Paul’s letter to Philemon, teaches us that detachment and renunciation are necessary for a true disciple of Christ. As a responsible Apostle and zealous disciple of Christ, Paul had to renounce the service of his new helper, Onesimus, and return him to his master. As a new disciple of Christ, Onesimus had to leave Paul, face his owner as a runaway slave and accept the consequences.
Today’s Gospel reminds us to count the cost of being a disciple and follower of Christ because the cost is high: true Christian discipleship requires one to “renounce” both earthly possessions and possessions of the heart (i.e., one’s relationships). In today’s Gospel, Jesus lays out four conditions for true Christian discipleship. i) Renounce too much attachment to family, giving priority to God and His commandments. ii) Break off the excessive attachment to possessions by leading a detached life, willingly sharing one’s blessings with others. iii) Accept the hard consequences of discipleship which include daily sacrificial service done for others and even the giving one’s life for them. iv) Calculate the cost involved in following Jesus. Using the two parables of the tower-builder and the king defending his country, Jesus says: think long and hard about Christian discipleship before a decision is made.
Life messages: We need to accept the challenge of Christian discipleship with heroic commitment and practice it. We do so:
1) by daily recharging our spiritual batteries through prayer, i.e., by talking to God, and by listening to Him through the meditative reading and study of the Bible;
2) by sharing in God’s life through frequent and active participation in the Eucharistic celebration;
3) by practicing the spirit of detachment and the renunciation of evil habits;
4) by giving our time, talents and resources generously, for the Lord’s work in the Church universal, and especially in our parish community, relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit;
5) by loving all God’s children, especially the less fortunate ones, through humble and selfless acts of kindness, mercy, forgiveness and service;
6) by showing true commitment to the obligations and duties entrusted to us by our vocation in life and our profession, like fidelity in marriage and firm adherence to justice in our living and profession.
Greetings in Christ,
The 8th of September is usually celebrated as the birthday of Our Blessed Mother. We did that yesterday, Saturday, in advance, at the 5:30 p.m. Mass. Bishop Greg Kelly was the main celebrant, honoring Our Lady of Good Heath. This was coordinated as a parish-wide celebration by the Tamil Catholics of Holy Family. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the first, and called mother of all disciples, because she lived in the most excellent way God’s call for discipleship in the Gospel.
Jesus in this Sunday’s message reveals God’s strongest demands of His followers. The word “hate,” as used here by Jesus, does not carry our deep, modern psychological connotations. It means to prefer family commitments less; they must be subordinate to the claims Jesus has upon His disciples. Do not choose discipleship casually or lightly. The real challenge here is to realize that following Jesus requires that we steadfastly embrace His cross as well as His words. Renouncing all of one’s possessions means to give up self-centered reliance on what one has or what one controls, and to surrender to the control of God over us. The Blessed Mother has fully lived this by her “Yes” to the will of God.
Our catechetical classes begin this week, teaching our children to live God’s words, following the example of Mary.
Fr. Albert B. Becher