September 24, 2017
As I write this article, the news is filled with hurricane information. We have just finished the ravages of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana. Day after day we watched what was happening in and around Houston, Port Arthur, Beaumont and areas of Louisiana. Even though warnings abounded before this hurricane hit land, still many people could not be completely evacuated due to their lack of transportation, lack of funds, or wanting to stay put to defend their property, but that did not stop the winds, the incessant rains and the resulting flooding. So much rain fell that the problem was exacerbated due to several of the reservoirs being opened to prevent the dams from collapsing. As a result, additional homes were damaged due to the raging waters. Current estimates of damage and therefore needed repairs will run close to $180 billion dollars. It has been reported that only 10 percent of the people suffering from the conditions had flood insurance.
If there is a silver lining in all of this destruction, it is in the marvelous response efforts of so many professionals and volunteers. I watched each day as people who had been trapped in their homes were rescued by every conceivable type of boat, vehicle, helicopter, etc. Emergency personnel were practically working around the clock to seek out and to find those who were desperate and who were treated with real compassion and dignity. Shelters were prepared and open to receive these thousands of individuals who often came with only the clothes on their backs since the waters had risen so quickly. Congress has now passed legislation to fund $15 billion for relief, but so much more will be needed. It has been heartening to witness so many individuals, companies, agencies and even children with lemonade stands doing their part. The Bishops of the United States have just conducted a second collection in all the parishes to assist in the recovery efforts as well.
We’d like to think that now this crisis is past except for the months ahead, and perhaps even years, to replace what was lost from Harvey. However, we all know that is absolutely not the case. We now are in the midst of realizing the impact for the onslaught of Hurricane Irma, which is considered the worst hurricane ever in the Atlantic—longest hurricane five in history. It has caused catastrophic damage on some of the islands in the Caribbean, passing close to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, and is devastating the entire state of Florida. Yes, things are far from over during this hurricane season and its destruction; now we have Jose and Katia churning up in the Atlantic, and the hurricane season does not officially end until November 1. As if that were not enough, we have wildfires out of control in California, Oregon and other parts of the Northwest and a devastating earthquake near the border of Mexico and Guatemala!
Whether there is a direct causal relationship between all of the above and the growing concern of climate change in our day remains disputed by a few scientists but generally agreed upon by the vast majority of them. The Paris Climate Accord that has been worked on for many years and signed by almost 300 nations throughout the world (you might remember that President Trump withdrew the United States from the accord just over a month ago) is an attempt to regulate at least a number of factors that are thought to contribute to the destabilization of the environment. When we see before our very eyes all that is happening—the destruction, the power, the financial, physical, emotional and psychological effects—how can we turn our backs on doing whatever possible to preserve Mother Earth, our Home? We have been commissioned by our God to love the earth, not to destroy it. Pope Francis in his encyclical letter Laudato Si’ (On Care for our Common Home) very forcefully declares that we all have a moral obligation to take care of that we have been given by God. In his own words:
This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our
irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have
come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The
violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of
sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is
why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and
maltreated of our poor; she ‘groans in travail’ (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that
we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gn 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her
elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters (#2).
While each of us has our part to play in better reverencing Mother Earth, Pope Francis also addresses the importance of this effort being one engaged in by a much more communitarian approach, even of all nations, such as is that of the Paris Climate Accord. Again, in his words:
Nevertheless, self-improvement on the part of individuals will not by itself remedy
the extremely complex situation facing our world today. Isolated individuals can lose
their ability and freedom to escape the utilitarian mindset, and end up prey to an
unethical consumerism bereft of social or ecological awareness. Social problems
must be addressed by community networks and not simply by the sum of individual
good deeds. This task ‘will make such tremendous demands of man that he could
never achieve it by individual initiative or even by the united effort of men bred in
an individualistic way. The work of dominating the world calls for a union of skills
and a unity of achievement that can only grow from quite a different attitude.’ The
ecological conversion needed to bring about lasting change is also a community
Just as recently as when he was returning from his pastoral visit to Columbia, Pope Francis sharply criticized climate change skeptics, saying history will judge those who failed to make the necessary decisions to curb heat-trapping emissions blamed for the warming of the Earth. He said, “Those who deny this must go to the scientists and ask them. They speak very clearly. They have charted what needs to be done to reverse course on global warming. Individuals and politicians have a moral responsibility to do their part.”
It seems to me that, if you have not yet read Pope Francis’ encyclical, now would be an excellent time to do so in light of the above. If you have read it some time ago, perhaps now would make a good second read. We have copies in the Gift Shop on the lower level of the church. I truly believe that God and the events of the present time are calling us to do so.
TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Perhaps you have heard the saying, “God’s ways are not our ways,” in response to an unexplainable tragedy or a strange event. It originates in today’s First Reading. If you interpret this First Reading in light of the longer prophecy of which it is a part, the phrase “seek the Lord” is not about going to the Temple but about seeing God’s abundant mercy in the events and world surrounding us, and recognizing that God, though utterly transcendent, desires always to be among us in the most intimate ways.
Actually, all three of this Sunday’s readings concern God’s radically generous ways that seem so inexplicable to humans—and how those ways impact our relationship with God and humanity. In the Second Reading, Paul is debating what would be his better fate: to die as a martyr and enjoy perfect union with Jesus in God or to continue working among his small but growing church communities. Either way, he says, Christ is magnified in his body. Here Paul dismisses the usual human concern for preserving one’s life in the light of a higher spiritual reality.
Likewise, today’s Gospel presents us with a parable marked by the clash between the divine and human perspective. A landowner hires day laborers to work in his vineyard, promising to pay them a day’s wages. Some he hires early in the day, others at midday, and still others late in the day. When it comes time to pay the workers, everyone gets the same full day’s wage, and some of the workers complain vehemently. Really, who dopes that sort of thing! Their human understanding of fairness cannot fathom God’s radical generosity. Here is one of those times when we should say, “God’s ways are not our ways.”
Paul teaches the Philippians that both our life and death can glorify God. Paul’s life is one of fruitful labor for Christ. It is that type of life that disciples are to choose. As the Catechism teaches, those who live with the mind of Christ fulfill their earthly tasks “with uprightness, patience, and love” (#2046).
Sometimes people are not concerned as much with fairness to others as with what they consider fair to themselves. The disgruntled workers in the Gospel do not dispute the fairness of their wage, but they want to be sure to receive the same per hour as the latecomers. The master, however, wants all to have a living wage. The 1971 Bishops’ statement Justice in the World notes that economic injustice “keeps people from attaining their basic human and civil rights” (9).
For Your Reflection: When have you found excuses not to seek the Lord while he was near? When faced with a perplexing situation, have you pondered how God’s ways differ from your ways? How does our faith community help you understand that justice is an issue for the Kingdom of God in our midst?
A LETTER FROM CARDINAL CUPICH
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This weekend we celebrate the seminarians of the Archdiocese of Chicago through our second collection. By offering our financial support we provide these young men with the critical education and training they need to shepherd our parishes and administer the sacraments. Last year, more than $978,000 was collected, and I am thankful for your past and present support.
Pope Francis reminds us that “The Church and the world need mature and balanced priests, intrepid and generous Pastors, capable of closeness, of listening and mercy.” There are currently 54 seminarians preparing for a life of service as your future parish priests. Our seminarians’ motivation and enthusiasm in their pursuit to answer God’s call is inspiring. They are the future guides for the spiritual and intellectual formation of our Catholic communities and are well deserving of our prayers and financial support.
Contributions made to this collection alleviate monthly expenses such as tuition and fees ($1,672), room and board ($638), and health insurance ($171) for each seminarian and will be used solely for the formation of new priests for the Archdiocese of Chicago. You may utilize the remittance envelopes provided to your parish, or should you find it more convenient, feel free to contribute online through our website at www.archchicago.org/seminarianfund.
For your generous support in the past and for your consideration of support again this year, I thank you. May God continue to bless you abundantly. Please know that I keep you in my daily prayers and intentions, and I ask yours in return.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Cardinal Blasé J. Cupich
Archbishop of Chicago
CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS
Sunday, October 1: Blessing of Pets at 2:00 P.M. in front of church
Tuesday, October 3: “The Influence of the Franciscan Movement on Medieval Art” with Fr. Bob Hutmacher in the St. Clare Auditorium at 12:10.
The Transitus Service (Commemorating the Death of St. Francis) at 7:00 P.M. in church
Wednesday, October 4: Solemn Mass in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi in church at 11:40 A.M.
Solemn Vespers in church at 5:40 P.M.
Thursday, October 5: “What Inspires a Franciscan Composer” with Fr. Bob Hutmacher in the St.
Clare Auditorium at 12:10.
Friday, October 6: Communal Penance Service in church at 12:15.
We hope you will plan to be with us for as many of these celebrations as possible.
A CHUCKLE FOR THE SEASON
A farmer named Clyde had a car accident. In court, the trucking company’s lawyer was questioning Clyde. “Didn’t you say at the moment of the accident, ‘I’m fine,’” asked the lawyer? Clyde responded, “Well, I’ll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule, Bessie, into the….”
“I did not ask you for any details,” the lawyer interrupted. “Just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine?’” Clyde said, “Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road…”
The lawyer interrupted again and said, “Judge, I’m trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of
the accident, this man told the highway patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question.” By this time the judge was fairly interested in Clyde’s answer and said to the lawyer, “I’d like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule, Bessie.”
Clyde thanked the judge and proceeded. “Well, as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I could hear old Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans.
“When the highway patrolman came on the scene, he could hear Bessie moaning and groaning, so he went over to her. After he looked at her and saw her near fatal condition, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the patrolman came across the road, gun still in hand, looked at me and said, ‘How are you feeling?’”
“Now after all that, what exactly would you say?”