August 20, 2017

8-20-17

 

How many times haven’t we heard the saying, “Charity begins at home”? It is so true that if we learn how to love one another in the family setting, then we will realize how important it is to love our neighbor, no matter where we meet him or her. We grow up seeing how much our parents sacrifice for us. Not only do they work hard to provide us with food on the table, a home to live in, care when we are ill, and taking care of multitudinous chores around the house, but they often go far beyond that.

 

I remember the first time I heard that my father, during the Second World War when things were rationed, would give up buying a new pair of shoes for himself so that he could use the stamps for this purpose for me since my feet were growing so fast as a youngster. I also came to realize that my mother would sometimes volunteer to assist other moms in our neighborhood when they would be overwhelmed because of their larger families.

 

Most people learn to practice Christian charity by experiencing the love of their parents and siblings, and practicing how to love them in return. As St. John said in his First Letter, “How can we love God whom we cannot see when we do not love our family, whom we do see?” (1Jn 4:20). In our relationships with members of our family, we learn to live lives of generosity. From these relationships, we learn to treat others with dignity and respect, as we are treated with dignity and respect. By creating a home where tenderness, kindness, forgiveness, fidelity and self-giving are seen daily, our parents provide an education in Christian virtues and raise us to be children of God. In this setting we grow in solidarity with others, learn to feel compassion and empathy for them, and take on the communal responsibility for the welfare of others. In this way, we become a true disciple of Jesus.

 

Unfortunately, it seems, all too often now this type of family education does not always characterize all of today’s families. In some cases both husband and wife feel the necessity to both work full-time, and they are exhausted when they get home after a full day’s work. Often a family constellation like this must rely on day care for their younger children. Or many single parents are rearing their children alone which means that time together is at a premium. But we cannot give what we do not have. If you are exhausted, how can you keep giving? Would those you are trying to help be better served from having you rested, or totally drained of all energy?

 

As selfless as Jesus was, he always took time away to be nurtured with prayer. His forty days in the wilderness following his baptism were spent preparing for his ministry. It is no surprise that Judas knew where to find him on the fateful night on which he betrayed his Master. All he had to do was lead people to where Jesus frequently went to pray.

 

Jesus’ followers are called to give of themselves. This point is made frequently throughout the Gospels, but it is made most clearly in Matthew 25:31-46, where Jesus describes the Last Judgment. According to this passage, our eternal fate will be determined by our generosity, or charity, to those in need: whether we fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, welcomed strangers, visited the sick and imprisoned, and cared for the dying. These acts are known as the corporal works of mercy. Along with the spiritual works of mercy, they provide guidance for how a Christian is to live by offering charity to others.

 

The word “charity,” which is also interchanged with love, is generally defined as generous actions done for others. These generous actions can be the sharing of our time, talents and treasures. However, it is not enough that we simply give; we must also do so out of love, as the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37 makes clear. In 1 Corinthians 13:13, St. Paul notes that there are ultimately only three things that last—faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these virtues is charity.

 

Let’s try to make our homes a true “domestic church” where deep love for one another is modeled by parents and children. Let’s do our best to give an example to all around us as the early Christians did, as portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles, “Look how they love one another!”

Let’s imitate Jesus, who lived his life for others all the way to sacrificing his own life for our salvation. May we see each day as an opportunity to reach out to everyone we meet to make the love of God come alive in the minds and hearts of our brothers and sisters in our midst.

 

TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

 

Humans have often violently excluded those whom they consider different from themselves. Today’s Scripture readings call our attention to the inclusiveness of God’s covenant community.

 

Today’s First Reading speaks of a long-awaited time of salvation when God’s people can return from exile and establish themselves again in Judah and Jerusalem. This is God’s desire, the prophet says, that all the nations will join Judah in keeping God’s Commandments and in worshiping together, loving God, and doing what is just.

 

In the Second Reading, we hear part of St. Paul’s concluding argument about the Jews’ place in God’s universal plan of salvation. We heard the introduction to this argument last week. Paul’s hope and firm conviction is that God will make his ministry to the Gentiles so successful that it will provoke his fellow Jews to jealousy so that someday all will be joined in one community of divine mercy.

 

Likewise, the Gospel reading is a story of inclusion, albeit a somewhat painful one. The Caananite woman is a pagan and not a Jesus follower, and yet she expresses some level of faith in him. When the disciples ask Jesus to “dismiss” her, he seems to agree, saying that he was sent only to minister to his fellow Jews, and then he calls her a dog—referring to the scavenger dogs that roamed the villages and ate garbage to survive. The scene reflects the culture’s respect for witty argument, but in the woman’s snappy response Jesus recognizes her faith; he grants her the healing of her daughter and inclusion in the community of faith.

 

In the Second Reading, St. Paul speaks of the redemption of the reconciliation of humankind. “God delivered all to disobedience that he might have mercy upon all,” he tells the Romans. During the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil, we hear proclaimed, “O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer.” From when humankind first sinned, God sought to bring redemption. The Catechism explains that from the time of the first sin, God began uniting his people. “The gathering together of the People of God began at the moment when sin destroyed the communion of men with God, and that of men among themselves. The gathering together of the Church is, as it were, God’s reaction to the chaos provoked by sin. This reunification is achieved secretly in the heart of all peoples” (#761).

 

“For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,” we hear in today’s First Reading. In this reading from Isaiah, the Lord proclaims that all who keep the covenant will be brought to the holy mountain. This call to holiness and union with the Lord is for everyone, Lumen gentium, 9, notes. “At all times and in every nation, anyone who fears God and does what is right has been acceptable to him. He has, however, willed to make women and men holy and to save them, not as individuals without any bond between them, but rather to make them into a people who might acknowledge him and serve him in holiness.”

 

Hearing Jesus tell the Caananite woman that he was “sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel,” it appears that Jesus focused solely on the Chosen People. However, the faith of the Caananite woman changes this. Jesus is so taken with her faith that he hears her daughter. The Catechism explains that “Jesus is as saddened by the ‘lack of faith’ of his own neighbors and the ‘little faith’ of his own disciples as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Caananite woman” (#2610).

 

For Your Reflection: The Caananite woman did not give up. When have you persisted in calling out to God? How does our faith assembly help you to see that God calls all to himself? Do you respond to God’s call and gifts as if they are irrevocable?

 

ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT – ST. PETER’S CHURCH

Fiscal Year 2016-2017

 

The Archdiocese of Chicago requires all pastors to publish in the bulletin a summary financial report at the end of each fiscal year. Even though such a report does not go into detail about individual receipts and expenses, it does give parishioners a good idea of where income has come from and where monies were spent.

 

Receipts:

 

Donations to Franciscans                               298,745

Parish Offertory Collections                          330,945

Christmas and Easter Appeal Collections       80,000

Donations by Mail                                          158,192

Wills and Estates                                            531,946

Gala Income                                                   123,558

 

Total Income                                               1,523,386

Beginning Cash                                                  5,150

Total                                                            1,528,536

 

Expenses:

 

Franciscan Stipends, Housing and Food        298,745

Lay Salaries and Benefits                              630,302

Utilities                                                           149,082                                                          

Maintenance and Repair                                209,444

Administration                                                 39,674

Altar and Liturgical                                          85,746

Insurance                                                          42,000

Archdiocesan Assessment                                55,594

Speakers and Education                                     9,028

                                

Total Expenses                                            1,519,615          

Ending Cash                                                       8,921

Total                                                            1,528,536

 

We want to thank everyone who has contributed in any way to make this past fiscal year possible. We absolutely depend on you to keep the doors open, the programs going, the friars fed and housed, and the liturgies alive and meaningful. You are the mainstay of our existence, and we appreciate your generosity and your continued support.

 

Please note in the figures above that our regular weekend and weekday collections only cover a small percentage of our expenses. Our Christmas and Easter Appeals, those who have remembered us in their wills, the many people from near and far who send us occasional donations through the mail, those who contribute monthly through the Friars Legion, and those who made the Gala a grand success —all these are sources without which we could not exist. If you have not yet remembered us in your will, please do so in a generous way so that those who come after you will benefit from what St. Peter’s has to offer for the Loop community and the thousands of visitors who come to our city yearly and join us for Mass and confession.

 

On the expense side, our main outlay is for the support of the friars and for the salaries, health insurance, retirement, and social security of our dedicated lay staff who contribute so much to making our ministry what it is. Our building is now sixty plus years old, so maintenance and repair is an ongoing issue (we had to spend over $250,000 this past spring doing extensive repair work on the five compressors that run our air conditioning for the church and friary). We value the quality of our liturgical celebrations and make every effort to make them beautiful, sacred and timely. This also means that art and environment must be well done also.

 

We are required to pay all archdiocesan assessments like every other parish (a percentage of the ordinary income). However, St. Peter’s has never been subsidized by the archdiocese in any way. We will continue to do all we can to lower our expenses and to expand our income while maintaining the quality of our ministry in every way. In the meantime, I ask you to seriously consider increasing your regular contribution at the offertory (even a daily cup of coffee at Starbucks can run close to $5.00) to assist us in paying our bills and honoring all our commitments. Our estimated operating deficit each year runs about $500,000 and can only be made up by fund-raising efforts such as the Annual Gala and by people who have remembered St. Peter’s generously in their estate planning.

 

SECOND COLLECTION NEXT WEEKEND

 

The bishops of the United States have authorized a new one-time second collection to complete the work on the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The Shrine, begun all the way back in 1920, is the largest Roman Catholic Church in North America and is one of the ten largest churches in the world. In next week’s bulletin we will detail exactly what needs to be done in order to finish this beautiful shrine, but hopefully this announcement will prepare you to come prepared for next weekend, August 26-27, 2017.

 

A CHUCKLE FOR THE SUMMER

 

“Do you believe in life after death?” the boss asked one of his employees.

 

“Yes, Sir,” the new recruit replied.

 

“Well, then, that makes everything just fine,” the boss went on. “After you left early yesterday to go to your grandmother’s funeral, she stopped in to see you!”