This week’s memory verse: He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.Psalm 62:6

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that I may find all answers in You and that I may do all in accord with Your will.

Are our hearts

The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment.

This is the day – the set of readings and gospel – we dread to hear. God is laying out His plan for our lives, how we are to act, what we must believe, and the fact that we just cannot make our own rules. These things are difficult for us to hear. As with Israel, we want things our own way.

God is great when He blesses us, but when He tells us the way we must go, the narrow road we must tread, then we balk. We fear the hard questions because the answers are not easy to hear and are even harder to carry out. We often ask – well why can’t..? Why can’t those two people marry? Why can’t we just live together? Why are you getting in the way of my good time?

These and other questions are certainly with us. To get to the answers we must start with a more basic question: Who am I?

As humans we are both honorable and shameful. We are God’s glorious creation, made in His image. We are also fallen from innocence and marred by the sin that pushes us further and further away from the image of God in us. Great evil occurs most readily where the answer to ‘Who am I?’ gives way to hard-hearted, egotistical, and self-centered answers. These offer the wrong answers to the question of who we are.

At an even more fundamental level, we must ask the most important question anyone could ever ask. This is, of course, the question of who God is. Who is this god – the God revealed to us by our Lord and Savior or another deity? Is God pure truth, without lie or deceit, or just a great bunch of suggestions?

In order to understand the image of God within us, we must first decide Who He is. To find the answer to all questions we must fix our eyes on life according to God who does not lie. Otherwise we end up with nothing more than a take-it-or-leave-it menu god, a set of options that offer no real path to life. We end up with ourselves, life according to us. Then we remain with hard hearts because there is nothing else. I am all I have.

Jesus understands our struggle in answering hard questions – finding Him and ourselves. To cure our hard-heartedness He told us to have the faith of a child: “for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” That kind of trust, unquestioning and unrestrained, will melt our hearts and give us every answer.

An on-time newsletter again. The record is unbroken…

Fall is here and we take a look at prayer. For whom and for what do we pray? Do we dare to pray big? We are encouraged to trust in God’s promises and to lay before Him more than our most immediate needs. We should be praying big – for all the saints, for the Church, and for the wealth of blessings God offers to His elect. Let’s trust in Him.

This month we will celebrate another one of our Holy Church’s great Solemnities – the Solemnity of the Christian Family. October also brings our Seasonal Craft Fair and Polish Food Kitchen, our Rummage Sale, a continuation of our Holy Masses for Healing and our Bible study, and many other events.

Also in our newsletter – congratulations to our young people who made their First Holy Communion.

You may view and download a copy of our October 2015 Newsletter right here.

This week’s memory verse: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of GodEphesians 2:8

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant me the ability to recognize Your great gifts and promises each day and to live in accordance with them.

Great gifts and

“Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!”

Today we celebrate a very special day in the life of our parish and the Holy Church. Two young people will receive from the Table of the Lord for the first time. Our readings and Gospel discuss the importance of receiving from the Lord.

God is so gracious to us and in His infinite graciousness He has set forth gifts and promises we can take hold of.

God saw that Moses needed help in leading the people. He asked Moses to assemble seventy worthy elders. God took some of the spirit that He had given to Moses and bestowed it on those elders. This was an incredible gift. God’s spirit of prophesy, leadership, and authority that He had given to Moses would now be shared with more people. These elders, including the ones who had not gone to the meeting tent, received God’s spirit. They immediately acted on it. They began prophesying in the camp. God shares His gifts with those He has chosen so they can do His work.

In our Gospel the apostles hear of people doing wondrous things in Jesus’ name. They got concerned and John came to Jesus saying: “we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.”

Jesus knew that His gifts were for all who believed in Him. As such, we too are empowered with His gifts to do marvelous things.

Paul shows us that the opposite is true of those who place their trust and belief in the world – in power, money, and things… Those things will rot away and they will devour those who have put their trust in them. If we are misled we will have no real power. We will miss out on God’s gifts and promises. Imagine the greatest treasure we could possibly obtain and we walk by it to get a plastic replica.

Eden and Erickaa receive from the Table of the Lord for the first time. In doing so they accept the greatest gift a person could ever hold – a treasure not made of gold – a treasure made just for us. Jesus!

We have Jesus. The greatest gift ever. In receiving Him we hold within ourselves the fullness of His graciousness and promises. We are joined all together in His greatest gift.

His gift is His promise. We have true life, real life, great power, and a gift that will never fade or rot away – all in Him. We have life forever and His power. Let us live always as faithful and thankful receivers of His gifts and promises.

This week’s memory verse: But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 15:57

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant me the faith necessary to grasp victory. Renew and regenerate me each day.

We welcome you Back to Church. We have been participating in this movement since 2013 because we, as a parish and the Church, want you to know that you are always welcome. Whether you have never been, have not been in a long time, or are just wondering – you are welcome here. One person who encountered the Church on this special day stated: “As a brand-new Christian, I needed a loving, accepting, forgiving community. I needed open-mindedness like [my pastor’s].

We encourage you to take things at you own pace. The true key is to know that in accepting Jesus Christ and being regenerated in Him you will find a peace that cannot be taken away and a promise that is forever.

Where is

Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training… With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience.

Today’s readings and gospel offer an interesting juxtaposition pointing to victory.

In Wisdom we hear the words of the wicked. How can we test God’s Holy One? What tortures and trials can we put Him through to test Him? We want proof – proof is most important. We can almost hear God saying – when giving His commandments in Deuteronomy 6:16“You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.”

Wisdom points to the truth of Jesus. The wicked would test Him and finally would put Him to death. We could stop there thinking that this applies to Jesus alone, but that would make us separate from Jesus. Remember that Jesus underwent every trial, temptation, suffering that we face. He confronted death just as we will have to face death. The words of Wisdom apply to us too. The wicked of the world will fight us and will test us over and over. Our victory will come from the Jesus kind of proof we offer.

In the Gospel Jesus is walking along with His disciples. He’s explaining the things to come – the way He will be tortured and killed. He is certainly ready, willing, and able to give witness by carrying out His Father’s will. What witness do the disciples give? They don’t even hear Him. They refused to understand and did not even attempt to figure it out. Instead, they fought amongst themselves about who was the greatest. Imagine a son or daughter sitting through an hour long parental talk then looking up to say: ‘What did you say, and by the way, am I your favorite?’ Our victory comes from listening to, hearing and modeling Jesus.

Paul gives us a pathway forward. He shows us the way to victory. Live the wisdom that is from above – the wisdom of God made known to us in Jesus. Live lives that are pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, and full of mercy and good fruits. Be constant and sincere. Cultivate peace.

To have victory we have to make ourselves one in Jesus, to become real parts of His body. We must come to real regeneration in Him so that we can become more and more like Him. Unlike the disciples on the journey through Galilee we have to make ourselves “last of all and the servant of all.” From this new life in Him comes the witness we offer in the face of the world and whatever trials, temptations, and sufferings it attempts to foist upon us. From life in Him comes victory!

Seeking to be

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

After the lawyer gave Jesus the correct answer on the Law of Love Jesus was well pleased. Wouldn’t it be great to hear God say to us: “You have answered right?”

The lawyer goes on to ask Jesus: “And who is my neighbor?” The layer was seeking to justify himself – in other words to see if Jesus would say that his way of life was the correct path, that he had done rightly not just in words, but in his life.

It is easy to give Jesus the right words. We can do this every Sunday in prayer and worship. We can do it in talking to others. But words are not enough. The lawyer knew this much.

In the lawyer’s mind he thought he knew the answer – my neighbor is my people – the Israelites were his only neighbors – and he expected that Jesus would confirm his opinion.

Jesus goes into the great Parable of the Good Samaritan. The lawyer would have recognized his neighbors as the priest and the Levite, but something went wrong. They didn’t follow through on the Law of Love toward their fellow Israelite. They walked on. Then this non- Israelite did something amazing, he lived out the Law of Love.

Could the lawyer possibly be justified if he did not believe and act similarly? The lawyer could walk away thinking that Jesus was completely off base, but wouldn’t he have to wonder? Was he truly justified if he wouldn’t live and act as the Samaritan had acted?

We have two challenges. The first is to consider our instinct. How do we feel about the lawyer, the priest, and the Levite at a gut level? Of course we’re on the side of Jesus and the Samaritan – but what about them? They are easy to dislike. Maybe they are not quite enemies, but not our kind of people? The challenge is to see them with eyes, hearts, minds, strength, and soul as our brothers. We are to love them and forgive their failings as Jesus would.

The second challenge is to move beyond just saying words of love – to extend the totality of our love – a love with eyes, hearts, minds, strength, and soul – to everyone. Then we will truly be justified and live-forever hearing Jesus say – “You have answered right?”