I don’t always take the time daily to at least scan the newspapers to update me on the important happenings, especially in the city of Chicago and its suburbs. I suppose one of the reasons for that is the network news that covers world and national affairs and checking the internet from time to time to see what is being featured therein. Certainly in this day and age we have many opportunities to stay in touch with all kinds of headline news—not just for information, but also for evaluating what might be happening here at home and abroad. After all, we are called to be informed citizens and faithful followers of Jesus Christ in the midst of the real world in which we live.
But I also know a number of people, and no doubt you do too, who have tuned out of all this access because they are fed up with the rancor and the name-calling. They find that when they listen, they are becoming increasingly angry, disgruntled and disappointed that things have come to this. They wonder whether members of Congress will ever get back to truly working together in a positive way, irrespective of party affiliation, to address the real issues that are significant for our American people and our world. And all of this rubs off to so many of us as far as how we treat one another, how we speak about one another, how we think and feel about one another. And finally, parents are seeing that somehow this type of behavior is affecting even their children and the way youngsters interact with each other.
What brought me to write about all this was reading an article in the January 30, 2020 Chicago Sun-Times entitled “Age of Rage Must End,” written by a regular columnist S.E. Cupp. In it she offers the following personal observation. “I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of feeling sickened. Our nasty politics of revenge, our unabating obsession with hating the other side, our too-quick-to-cancel culture and our fetishization of extreme purity is not only exhausting, but it’s making us sick.”
She then goes on to give a number of examples of what she is talking about, and then she concludes, “Whether you’re on the left, the far right or the ever-shrinking center, this unending, level-11 vitriol is unsustainable and unbearable. No one should feel compelled to be this angry at other people all the time.”
Shortly after reading this column, I came across another entitled “Welcome to the Neighborhood” by Susan Hines Brigger in the February 2020 St. Anthony Messenger. She was reminiscing about when she was growing up and listening to Mister Rogers on television. That was a time when he taught youngsters many valuable lessons through the use of puppets and stories. She concludes by saying:
“What we didn’t realize—what I didn’t realize—was that his message was one we all could stand to hear and learn from, especially now. In 1997, when he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emmy Awards, Mister Rogers took the stage and delivered a speech that didn’t tout his achievements but rather reinforced the message he had been trying for so many years to teach us: Each of us is special, and we should cherish that.
“Mister Rogers told the audience, ‘All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are—10 seconds of silence.’
“And then he lifted his wrist, and looked at the audience, and looked at his watch, and said softly, ‘I’ll watch the time.’ At first, his request was met with some awkward laughter. But once the crowd realized his sincerity, they quickly obliged. This was, after all, Mister Rogers.
“Currently, it seems as if we are all living in a constant state of anger, angst, and turmoil. We struggle with the basic human interactions that once seemed instinctive. We speak of others in a way that we would not accept from our own children. We have forgotten that each of us is special and, in the midst of difficult situations and times that we may face, we can get through them—together—if we want to.
“To do that, though, we need to see each other through the eyes of this wise man. There is a reason his legacy, words, and messages have endured. It’s because they’re true. Each of us is special, and it’s time we started treating each other like that. Our children are watching. Take a moment to think about that. I’ll watch the time.”
Yes, it’s about time that each of us takes another look at what Jesus has taught his disciples and us about how we are to treat one another. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Jesus over and over told us to treat one another with dignity and respect, to do our best to speak charitably, to be there for those most in need, to set a good example for one another, to be brothers and sisters to everyone and to all of creation. We must learn to be able to speak the truth from our own perspective, but also to have open ears to hear what the other has to say, to be able to disagree with someone without necessarily becoming angry and combative. To truly love one another is the beginning of wisdom.
SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
The reading from the Book of Sirach sets the scene for all of today’s readings. Sirach offers practical wisdom on how to live according to God’s instructions. The writer reminds us that God has gifted us with the power to choose freely “Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.”
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians shows what the call to choose life means. Embrace God’s love by living according to God’s wisdom, a plan hidden until now, a plan of love for the salvation of all humanity. Jesus Christ, the crucified “Lord of glory,” accomplished the Father’s plan through his death and resurrection.
During the Gospel reading, Jesus continues the Sermon on the Mount as he illustrates how his message “fulfills the law and the prophets.” He selects the fifth, sixth, and eighth commandments to indicate the heart of his new way of life: “You have heard how it was said, You shall not kill….But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” Jesus demonstrates that murder stems from within the human heart. The out-of-control emotion of anger within us, if left unchecked, leads to murder. To choose life in Christ means to pay the emotions within us. While this is true of the fifth commandment, it also applies to all other commandments. Life in Christ implies that our whole being needs transformation, starting within our very depths.
Jesus shows that the Commandments regard our interior lives, not just our external actions, when he says, “Whoever is angry with his brother is liable to judgment.” Jesus wants his listeners to understand that what is in the depths of their hearts matters as much as their actions. The Catechism states, “The Law of the Gospel fulfills the commandments of the Law. Far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the Old Law, it reveals their entire divine and human truth” (#1968).
Jesus speaks to the people at the Sermon on the Mount as one who is in relationship with them. He says that he has come “not to abolish but to fulfill.” When God gave the Commandments to the people, it was part of their relationship through the covenant. Whenever the Commandments are handed on, it is with the recall of the covenant made at Mount Horeb. “The gift of the commandments and of the Law is part of the covenant God sealed with his own. Man’s moral life has all its meaning in and through the covenant” (##2060-2061).
At the heart of the Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount is relationship. God is served when human dignity is respected and upheld. The Second Vatican Council document Gaudium et spes states, “The Church proclaims human rights. There is a temptation to feel that our personal rights are fully maintained only when we are free from every restriction of divine law. But this is the way leading to the extinction of human dignity, not its preservation” (#41).
In addressing how women are treated during divorce, Jesus upholds the dignity of women. Still in 1999, Pope John Paul II saw reason to discuss the treatment of women in his apostolic exhortation on conversion, communion, and solidarity, Ecclesia in America. The pope states, “The Church feels the duty to defend the human dignity which belongs to every person, and ‘denounces discrimination, sexual abuse and male domination as actions contrary to God’s plan’” (#45).
For Your Reflection: In making a choice, have you considered the potential of the life-giving nature of one of the options? How might you look deeper at a commandment and achieve a better relationship with another? If you view the Commandments as part of a relationship, do you understand them differently?
2020 ANNUAL CATHOLIC APPEAL
This weekend our parish will be conducting the Annual Catholic Appeal in-pew Commitment Weekend. Please remember that the Annual Catholic Appeal is much different than a one-time special collection. It is a pledge campaign where you can make a gift payable in installments.
The Annual Catholic Appeal theme, “Come, follow me…and heal the world,” was selected to remind us to continue to answer Jesus’ call to follow Him in thought, word and deed by providing the necessary contribution to fund ministries and services to share God’s love with many others in our parish and our archdiocese.
Each pledge makes a difference! All parish communities participate in the campaign and the gifts of many enable our parishes, schools, and ministries to deliver needed services. Thank you for your prayerful consideration and generous response.
WEEKLY SCRIPTURE STUDY
A few weeks ago on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time we celebrated what Pope Francis has called the “Sunday of the Word of God.” He pointed out that the Second Vatican Council reminded us of the absolute importance of the Sacred Scriptures wherein still today we hear God speaking to us, not just as a matter of history, but rather as though God were present in our midst today. When we hear the Gospels, we hear Jesus teaching us just as he was teaching the people while he was physically on this earth.
Some of us realize that as children we were instructed more from the Baltimore Catechism than directly from the Scriptures. In fact, we might have been told that we should not read the Bible individually because we might come up with a poor or even wrong interpretation of what we had just read. I certainly remember that was the case throughout my grade school education in a Catholic school.
However, all this is no longer the case. We are encouraged to read and to study the Scriptures. I want to invite you to consider joining the group here at St. Peter’s who come together every Friday from 12:10-12:50 for this purpose. Right now they are studying St. Matthew’s version of the Gospel using the Little Rock Scripture Study method. I think you will really be glad you joined if you have the time to come on Fridays. Please consult the lineup of the classes elsewhere in this bulletin, or if you need further information, consult Fr. Derran at 312-853-2355.
METROPOLITAN MARRIAGE TRIBUNAL OF CHICAGO
If you or anyone you know has a question about the process for beginning the annulment procedure in the Archdiocese, we invite you to meet with a member of the Tribunal to find answers. Some possible questions might be: When is a declaration of nullity needed? Does my situation qualify for one? How would I get started?
These sessions take place at the Quigley Pastoral Center, 1st Floor, 835 N. Rush St., Chicago, IL 60611, from 5:00-7:00 P.M. The next two dates for these meetings are March 9 and April 6. You need not make an appointment beforehand in order to attend.
A CHUCKLE BEFORE LENT
Six guys were playing poker when Smith loses $500.00 on a single hand. Suddenly he clutches his chest and then drops dead at the table. Showing respect for their fallen comrade, the other five complete their playing time standing up.
Robert looks around and asks, “Now, who is going to tell his wife?” They draw straws, and Rippington, who is always a loser, picks the short one. They tell him to be discreet, be gentle, don’t make a bad situation any worse than it already is.
“Gentlemen, Discreet? I’m the most discreet man you will ever meet. Discretion is my middle name. Leave it to me.”
Rippington walks over to the Smith house, knocks on the door, the wife answers, and asks what he wants. Rippington says, “Your husband just lost $500.00 playing cards.”
She hollers, “TELL HIM TO DROP DEAD!” Rippington replies, “I’ll tell him.”