I don’t know about you, but I know that I am more and more appalled by the growing instances of seemingly hate crimes that are increasing not only in our own country but also around the world. Just this year we have the instance of Jussie Smollett and what he reported to have happened to him one cold January morning here in Chicago. In that particular case later evidence seems to suggest that this entire scenario was staged rather than perpetrated, but we know that there are hundreds of other cases that have occurred similar to the one here.
We have all kinds of situations where African Americans have been targeted merely because of their race and the color of their skin. Jewish people and their synagogues have been attacked because of their religion. Muslim individuals have been singled out because of the headdress they were wearing or because of the sounds of their names. Catholic churches have been burned and filled with graffiti out of hatred. Persons professing the Sikh religion have been bullied and their houses of worship destroyed. White Nationalists have marched and called for the denunciation of peoples whom they see as not sharing their views. Immigrants fleeing their homeland are refused entry into a safer country out of concern that the purity of a nation will be violated. LGBTQ individuals are attacked and sometimes killed because of their sexual orientation.
And these sorts of things happen in countries such as the United States which claims to be built upon a Judaeo-Christian heritage. We seem more and more to be living in and accepting the position that there are very few norms of behavior and decency that are expected in the way we think about and treat one another. If I don’t like another person for whatever reason, it is perfectly okay for me to talk badly about him/her, publically verbally abuse this one, and even threaten or actually attack and kill this individual. Does everyone as an individual have the right to make up one’s own ethical behavior? Is there no reason to back off my prejudices or my negative feelings based upon an agreed upon understanding of what is right and wrong?
I must admit that I am not an expert in comparative religions, but it is my sense that all the major religions of the world in some way embrace the belief of a Supreme Being and of the importance of love of neighbor. From a Christian perspective, we certainly know that love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable. What does it mean to love your neighbor as you love yourself? “An expert in the Law tried to test Jesus by asking him to declare what was the greatest commandment in the Law of Moses. Jesus replied, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Mt 22:37-40).
When we read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, we are struck with the realization that they focus on these two issues. Certainly we are to love God supremely. But what does it mean to love our neighbor as ourselves? “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God. You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. And you shall not swear by my Name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer. You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you shall fear your God. I am the Lord. You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow men justly. You shall not go about spreading slander among your kinsmen, nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am the Lord.” (Lv 19:9-16).
And then there is the exhortation (commandment) that Jesus gave clearly to his followers: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:34-35). Notice that Jesus lays out how much we are to love our neighbor. We are to love our neighbor as he has done, and he did it to the point of giving up his life for us. Where does that leave us?
If we truly believe that the Bible is the Word of God, then it follows that we not only must know and understand that Word but that we absolutely try to live it. If we live it, Jesus tells us that we will not only have a good earthly life but also life everlasting. Is it any wonder that we are having so much hatred and difficulties in our world today? If we are constantly choosing to follow our own judgments and feelings instead of what God has ordained, we can expect nothing less than chaos, lack of concern for each other, and utter disillusionment. Just imagine if the vast majority of people from all religions and walks of life actually worked together day in and day out to live the principles and values that have been outlined, what a different world we would have. The choice is ours!
FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
True peace is a gift only God can give. The Readings today convey this message strikingly. In the First Reading, the prophet Isaiah offers a vision of God’s care for the people. God compares the comfort and support he offers to that of a mother who nurses her child. “As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”
In the Gospel, Jesus sends out seventy-two disciples to bring the gift of peace to whatever household they enter. As they enter households, they are to say, “Peace to this household.” Of all messages, Jesus asks them to convey the message of peace.
The concept of peace (shalom) in the world of Judaism and of Christianity bears a wealth of meaning. Essentially, peace means “being in a right relationship with God and with one another.” Peace is a gift only God can communicate through the power of the Spirit. Peace brings God’s blessings into every dimension of one’s being. Jesus instructs us through this Gospel that we are his instruments in communicating his peace to others. This relationship of peace with God is extended to others through our actions.
In the Second Reading, St. Paul shows us that he suffered greatly as he carried Christ’s peace to others. Paul always views his sufferings as sharing in the sufferings of the crucified Christ. Paul’s relationship with Christ shows us that peace is attained not through our actions but through Christ’s actions in changing us. As Paul says, what matters is that we become a totally “new creation” in Christ.
We hear in the Gospel of Jesus sending seventy-two disciples ahead of him. Today, Christ’s followers must preach and live the Christian life before Christ comes again. In Ad gentes, the Council Fathers state: “The time for missionary activity extends between the first coming of the Lord and the second, for the Gospel must be preached to all nations before the Lord comes again in glory” (#9).
When Jesus sent out the disciples, he instructed them to live among the people. Pope Paul VI explains in Evangelii nuntiandi that the Gospel must be proclaimed by Christians who “show their capacity for understanding and acceptance, their sharing of life and destiny with other people, their solidarity with the efforts of all for whatever is noble and good.” He noted that this wordless witness “is already a silent proclamation of the Good News and a very powerful and effective one” (#21).
For Your Reflection: How can you change your attitude to be one of praising God for all that occurs to you? What would it mean in your life for your pride to be based solely on your union with Christ? How often do you attribute a good to yourself when the credit belongs to God?
THEOLOGY ON TAP—MONDAYS, JULY 8, 15, 22
The St. Peter’s Young Adults (SPYA) are happy to announce that we will be hosting three gatherings of “Theology on Tap” again this summer. This is the eighth year in a row that we will be hosting TOT, and we’re really excited about it. For those who are not sure what Theology on Tap is, basically we will be bringing in some expert speakers to speak to us about current issues in our world and in our personal lives. There will be really good food, some great speakers, and mostly a wonderful chance to connect with fellow young adults on the journey of faith. When our gatherings started years ago, we posed a question that still remains poignant: What does it mean for US to be Catholic?
On these three Mondays in July, we welcome everyone between the ages of 20 and 40 to attend and talk about that question. We will begin at 5:30 with some food, and we will end by 7:30 each evening. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact Fr. Ed Shea at 773-892-4134.
Here’s what we have in store for you:
Monday, July 8—Margaret Chen—“Authenticity: The Foundation of Joy”
Monday, July 15—Fr. Ed Shea, O.F.M.—“Open My Eyes, Lord”
Monday, July 22—Deacon Allen Tartara—“Recharging Your Spiritual Batteries”
Here is a note about our first speaker, Margaret Chen. She is a local young adult from the Chicago suburbs. She has been on the TOT speaker circuit for the past five years. She got married to her husband Eddie and turned thirty last June. She defines this past year as her most defining, vulnerable, challenging and formative year yet. She works as a Program Coordinator for a local non-profit agency.
Through sharing her own journey and experiences, Margaret will share how seeking authenticity in her life and in her relationships has brought her joy and peace.
Make your plans now to participate in these wonderful opportunities during July.
St. PETER’S GALA
Don’t forget that St. Peter’s is holding its annual Gala on Thursday, July 18, 2019, from 5:30-8:30 P.M. at the Union League Club, 65 West Jackson Boulevard. It’s an evening of great fun and food, along with meeting both old and new friends while sipping a cool drink. We also have some magnificent items for you to purchase and to bid on during the silent and live auctions. This is our major fund raiser of the year and we hope to net $200,000, all of which will go toward reducing our annual parish operating deficit. Tickets @ $175.00 apiece are still on sale after the Masses on weekends and weekdays, or at other times when the front office is open. If for some reason you are not able to purchase a ticket and be present for the Gala, we would appreciate a donation toward the event. We hope to see you there.
In order to keep everything at St. Peter’s in good working order, we need many people to assist us in a variety of ways. One of the most pressing needs is to assure that we always have trained servers, readers and Communion ministers to assist at the altar for our weekend and weekday Masses. We are so thankful for the many individuals who have come forward—some for many years—to be present in those capacities up until now, but we are still in need of more volunteers so that we are covered for all seven of the weekday and all five of the weekend Masses each week.
Therefore I am inviting you, even if you have never done this before, to respond to this urgent invitation to step forward at this time to join the ranks of personnel who assist us in the sanctuary. We are most willing to accommodate to your desires and your schedule as far as time of day and number of times you might be scheduled during a given month. I promise you that by doing so you will gain an even greater appreciation of the gift of the Eucharist and of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Sometimes people say they would love to do this but that they think themselves unworthy. Our spiritual lives are about being honest before the Lord, yet opening ourselves ever more to His invitation and welcome.
If you would like to volunteer or to get more information of what it would entail, you may contact James Kapellas at 312-853-2418, Phil Bujnowski at 312-628-1254, or Fr. Kurt at 312-853-2417.
Some of our bulletin readers may not be familiar with Chicago Shares, a way that you can help the homeless but not actually give them cash. You can purchase Chicago Shares in our Front Office anytime the office is open. They come in packets of five (each slip worth $1.00) and they can be used to purchase food, toiletries, and other basic items at a number of stores in the Loop and in the South and North areas beyond the Loop. These shares cannot be used to purchase liquor and tobacco, nor can they be redeemed for cash. If you would like more information about Chicago Shares, you may go to www.chicagoshares.org, or you may stop at the front office to pick up a list of the stores that honor these shares.
A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE
After the pastor finished his sermon, he stayed at the doors and shook the people’s hands as they walked by, making sure to give a smile and a kind word to each one.
By the time he had finished, most of the people milling around in the church lobby had left, except for a few. The pastor noticed in particular one elderly woman who was sitting on one of the hallway plush benches, nearly in tears, rocking back and forth. Concerned, the pastor walked over to her and heard her emit the words, “How long, Lord? How long?”
Touched, he laid a hand on the white head. “Ma’am, God has heard you. I am sure that he will come through for you,” he said soothingly. She looked up at him with a small smile and thanked him.
Feeling that he had done a very good deed, he turned and was about to walk out the doors when one of the bathroom doors opened and someone came out.
The pastor definitely had a feeling of chagrin when the elderly woman yelled, “Praise the Lord!” and ran inside.