May 27, 2018

5-27-18

 

One of the struggles that people have grappled with almost from the beginning of creation is how we can attain unity with diversity. How can men and women get along together and even thrive despite the fact that each might approach a situation differently? How can people of different backgrounds and cultures live harmoniously and enjoy each other’s company? How can individuals who once spoke different languages now come together and learn from each other? How did Jews and Gentiles in the early Church eventually learn to respect each other as brothers and sisters in Christ? How can we in the United States today rejoice in our diversity and work toward greater unity rather than thinking that only certain types of people should inhabit our land?

 

Saint Paul, writing to the Christians in Ephesus (chapter 4: 1-7, 11-13) put it this way: “Brothers and sisters, I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your calling—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 

“But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature to manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.”

 

Yet, as is well known, creating unity in diversity can pose real challenges, whether in marriage, a parish, a city, a nation or in the international arena. Most people know this challenge from experience, perhaps the experience of seeing that their finest, best-honed talents or insights were overlooked in certain situations where gifts and insights of another sort were sought and celebrated. It would be great if the solution to every problem were as inclusive as possible, but in fact this is seldom the case.

 

This is an age-old issue for Christians, familiar to them from their faith’s earliest days. Allow me to remind you of another instance St. Paul addressed in regard to the Church of Corinth. The diverse Corinthian Christians, it seems, were not getting along particularly well. “I hear that when you meet as a Church there are divisions among you, and to a degree I believe it,” Paul wrote (1Cor 11:18). But all were “baptized into one body, whether Jews, Greeks, slaves or free persons,” Paul said. Their community indeed had “many parts,” but was “one body,” he stressed.

 

The Corinthians were bickering over their interpretations of the Gospel, their differing moral codes, their rival leaders. When they gathered to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, deep-seated biases based on class and social status were on ugly display. Paul approached this community with wisdom and love (1Cor 12:1-31). He spoke not only of the importance, but the necessity, of affirming each member’s value in the body of Christ. There are different gifts, but the same God “produces all of them in everyone.”

 

Noting that a single body is made up of many parts, Paul put things this way: “If an ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?” (1Cor 12:16). Continuing this imagery, Paul cautioned that “the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I do not need you,’” (1Cor 12:21). When one part of Christ’s body suffers, moreover, “all parts suffer with it,” he emphasized. “If one part is honored, all the parts share its joy” (1Cor 12:26). The point is that each person is needed to do the work of Christ’s body in the world. “God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended,” Paul explained (1Cor 12:18).

 

Paul’s teaching makes room for diverse talents, interests, insights and gifts within a Church community to come to the fore. And Pope Francis suggests in his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in diverse ways the members of a faith community can enrich each other. But there are two temptations to contend with in all of this, he pointed out in his homily for Pentecost in 2017. “The first temptation,” is to seek “diversity without unity,” while the second temptation seeks “unity without diversity.” In the first case, people “take sides,” becoming “locked into their own ideas and ways of doing things.” They “choose the part over the whole,” he said. In the second case, “unity ends up being homogeneity and no longer freedom.”

 

So, creating unity in diversity constitutes a necessary Christian challenge today, as was true in Ephesus and Corinth so long ago. It is a challenge, Pope Francis remarked during a 2015 visit to the Central African Republic, that “demands creativity, generosity, self-sacrifice and respect for others.” Let’s hope and pray that we can apply these same virtues and values in our own country in these months and years ahead.

 

SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

 

We celebrate today what lies at the heart of the Christian faith and life: the mystery of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus taught about God in very concrete ways, giving us glimpses into the mystery of God and into the relationship of love that we are called to share. Today’s readings shine like three flashlights illuminating different dimensions of God.

 

In Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Israelites that God created all things in heaven and on earth. There is no other God. Having loved and cared for his people from the beginning, God wants to be close to them, and they in turn are called to respond by keeping God’s laws and commandments.

 

In his letter, Paul instructs the people of Rome (and us) that we have received God’s Spirit. The Spirit dwells within us, liberating us from slavery to the Law and to fear, by adopting us as God’s children. The Holy Spirit unites us to the Body of Christ and to the Father whom we can address as “Abba,” an intimate term of love used by children for their father.

 

In the Gospel, Jesus reveals more fully the mystery of God’s love by sending his disciples on a mission to bring all people into this relationship of love with God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—through Baptism. Jesus promises that he is with us “always, until the end of the age.” We are never alone since we are, as God’s children, always united with the Father, Son, and Spirit in a relationship of love. We share in God’s own life and mission. This Solemnity of the Holy Trinity celebrates what we have received in the Sacrament of Baptism: life in a relationship of love with God and one another.

 

As the Church evangelizes, it must maintain the same humble attitude and posture as did Jesus. Ad gentes states, “The Church has an obligation to proclaim the faith and salvation which comes from Christ. Since the mission continues in the course of history, the church must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice, even to death” (#5).

 

In the proclamation of today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus send out the disciples to spread the Good News. Bringing the Gospel to others needs to continue in new ways in contemporary society, Pope Benedict XVI said in his letter to the bishops who gathered at the Fifth General Conference of the Latin America and Caribbean Bishops’ Conference in Brazil in 2007. He states in Aparecida: “The church is called to a deep and profound rethinking of its mission. What is required is confirming, renewing, and revitalizing the newness of the Gospel rooted in our history” (#11).

 

For Your Reflection: What idols draw you away from God? How does a Spirit of adoption enable you to have a close relationship with God? As a follower of Christ, how do you spread the Gospel?

 

AN IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT THIS WEEK

 

As we have been making you aware of for the past several weeks, a very important meeting for our Province is taking place this week in Saint Louis. We have been studying and praying about whether six of the seven Franciscan Provinces in the United States should merge into forming one Province. Obviously there have been many considerations to this possibility, and now the time has come for each of these six provinces to vote on that proposal. This is the purpose of our meeting at the end of May.

 

As a result, all but a few of the friars who live at St. Peter’s will be attending this meeting and voting. Therefore, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—May 29, 30 and 31—the church will be open all of these days at our regular hours, but there will be no Masses, confessions, mezzanine or office hours. People will still be able to come to pray, to visit the bookstore, to make deliveries, to attend programs in the auditorium, etc., but all other services will not be available. Please take note of these circumstances and tell your friends as well.

 

Please pray for us as we approach this most significant time in our Franciscan life. We promise to pray for you as well during these days of discernment.

 

MEMORIAL DAY

Monday, May 28, 2018

 

Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer, although this year one might wonder whether summer will have arrived by that time.

 

The Civil War claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history, requiring the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers. On May 5, 1862, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Similar commemorations took place both in the North and in the South but often on different days.

 

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War, but during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.

 

As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day this year, let’s try to remember the original purpose of the holiday so that in the midst of our family gatherings, our barbeques, our day at the beach, etc., we remember all those who have given their lives in the cause of freedom.

 

At St. Peter’s we have only one Mass on Memorial Day at 10:00 A.M. The church will only be open between 9:00-11:00 A.M.

 

MINISTERS AT THE ALTAR

 

Once again I want to invite you to consider volunteering to serve in some capacity at our weekday and weekend Masses. Without the participation of our faithful readers, acolytes, thurifers, cross bearers and Ministers of Communion, we would not be able to sustain our large number of Masses which we offer for the people who come into or who live in the Loop. We have been fortunate over the years to have so many dedicated ministers to assist us, but things change over time due to retirements, job transfers, change of address, aging, death, and work differences.

 

On the weekends, we definitely could use someone to read, acolyte and be Communion Minister at the Saturday noon Mass. Frequently there is no server at that Mass which means that either someone from the congregation must come up at the last minute, or the priest must do everything himself. Secondly, from time to time we could use an additional acolyte at the Saturday 5:00 Mass and at the Sunday Masses as well.

 

On the weekdays, we could use additional help at the 7:15 and 8:15 Masses. It’s not that we have no one to assist at those Masses, but having a few extras could be helpful.

 

Therefore I am asking you to see if you might help us in some capacity. You can decide how often and when during the day you might be available. Please call Mr. James Kapellas at 312-853-2418 for more information and for answers to any of your questions. We will train you so that you will be well prepared to fulfill your ministry, and we will try our best to accommodate your personal schedule. I think you will actually find, if you volunteer, that the Mass will take on a deeper meaning since you will be more actively involved in the liturgy.

 

A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE

 

A woman goes to the doctor for her yearly physical. The nurse starts with certain basic items. “How much do you weigh?” she asks.

 

“120,” the woman says. The nurse puts her on the scale, and it turns out that her weight is 150.

 

The nurse asks, “Your height?”

 

“5 feet, 8 inches,” she says. The nurse checks and sees that she measures only 5 feet, 5 inches.

 

She then takes her blood pressure and tells the woman it is very high.

 

“Of course it’s high!” she screams. “When I came in here, I was tall and slender, and now I’m short and fat!”