Echoes from the Rectory: ‘Work teaches our young people to value others’
(POSTED: 10/3/12) If you received word that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, was coming to town and he wanted to arrange his trip so that you could have a private audience with him, how would you feel? Could you find time to work him into your schedule? Our Lord Jesus has done that very thing! And he is not just the Vicar of Christ; he is the Christ! He invites you and me to spend some quiet time with him in the newly refurbished Adoration Chapel here at St. Hilary Church. “Come to me, all you who labor and are bur dened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28) What an invitation! God so loved us that He sent His only Son, so that we might have eternal life. (Jn 3:16) Jesus Christ wishes to make himself really present to every generation until the end of time. One way he does that is in the Blessed Sacrament under the appearances of bread and wine. (1Cor11: 24-26) As your pastor here at St. Hilary Parish, I would like to invite you to spend some time in a private audience with Our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our newly refurbished adoration chapel is the perfect place for some quiet time with the Son of God who gave his life for you.
–The Rev. William Eddy, St. Hilary Parish, Chicago (North Side), Sept. 30, 2012
Today we welcome seminarian, Mr. Richard Rhinehart, who will speak at all our weekend Masses in support of today’s special collection for the Archdiocese of Chicago Seminaries. Richard is currently a second year pre-theologian at Mundelein Seminary. I ask that you please be generous as the monies collected will be used wisely for the development and formation of those young men studying for the priesthood. Also, I ask that you please encourage young men of all ages, if you think they may have a vocation to the priesthood. If you know of anyone who may have such a vocation, please encourage them to talk to Father Pat or myself. In the meantime, please keep Richard and his fellow seminarians in your prayers.
–The Rev. Martin Michniewicz, St. Alexander Parish, Palos Heights, Sept. 23, 2012
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to [a] friend who provided me with work responsibilities when I was a teenager. Fr. Paul Baca was my pastor and I am fortunate to still be able to spend time with him once-in-a-while. He always has a perspective that brings insight for me and this visit was no different. I told him about all the youth we are trying to provide with a work experience this summer. He said, “What your parish is doing is really important. I remember when I washed dishes as a young man. I cleaned bathrooms and I worked with a sense that my work was valuable. The work brought me a sense of dignity – it raised my self esteem. I was not paid a lot but in the end the work itself was most important. Working prepared me for what I needed to face in life – it helped me appreciate others, open my eyes to a bigger world, and taught me important life lessons.” After talking to Fr. Baca, I reflected on the value of work for our young people. Our church and neighborhood is really much healthier when we engage our young people with an experience of work. We create an opportunity for them to reflect on their relationship to the world through their experience of working. Work teaches our young people to value others as well as themselves. Work is one of those foundations of peace and justice … so much needed in our community.
–The Rev. Bruce Wellems, Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Chicago (South Side), July 1, 2012
Our Gospel Reading (Mark 9:38-48) for this Sunday has essentially three parts to it. The first (Mark 9:38-39) involves an incident John tells Jesus about. How they stopped a man who was doing an exorcism in the name of Jesus, because the man was not actually among the followers of Jesus. Jesus responds that they should not have done so, because, “There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.” Mark then adds two sayings of Jesus here (9:40 and 9:41) he thinks closely related to this one. The first is the more interesting of the two: “Whoever is not against us is for us.” As true and practical as this usually is, Luke tells us that Jesus also said the reverse: “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Luke 11:23a). The point of the latter is that situations arise where one has to choose to stand with Jesus. The second part of our Gospel Reading today has to do with putting “a stumbling block (whatever causes one to fall) before one of these little ones who believe in me” and what should happen to us if we do. “It would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42). We shall return to this after the following.
The third part of our Gospel Reading today refers to the hand and foot and eye. If any of these be the source of our downfall, better to cut it off or pluck it out; and to go through this life thus maimed rather than be thrown into Gehenna with two hands or feet or eyes. “Gehenna” is being used here as a symbol for hell. It was a ravine by Jerusalem (“the Valley of Hinnom”) where first-born had once been burnt up as offerings to the god, “Molech,” apparently so that couples would be blessed with many more children. The Jews, however, turned it into a garbage dump, where all kinds of refuse was always rotting and burning. And so the expression: “where the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched” (Mark 9.48). Verses 44 and 46 and 48 all said the same thing, so that each section about the hand and foot and eye would end with: “where the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched.” However verses 44 and 46 are not found in the best ancient manuscripts; and so they have been dropped from our Gospel Reading. Before we return to Mark 9:42, let me point out that Jesus is using dramatic exaggeration here (Mark 9:43-48). He does this to make us realize that we must take drastic measures to avoid whatever it is that leads us into sin. One of the sins we commit with the hand, e.g. is stealing; hence, Jesus uses it as a symbol of such temptations and crimes.
In English e.g., we talk about “sticky fingers.” Just as thieves do not really have sticky fingers, so too, Jesus does not mean that we should really cut our hand off. He says it, rather, so that this dramatic image will stay with us and remind us to take drastic measures to prevent our stealing. Literalists, of course, are always a great danger to themselves. One should never forget the tragic, but funny case of poor Origen, who cut off his you-know-what, so as to “make himself a eunuch for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven!” And so, returning to Mark 9:42, “better if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea” is also just a dramatic image. But it is meant to scare anyone responsible for the faith of others in Jesus from doing anything at all that would so harm them, that it would also lead them to lose their faith in Jesus. One would think that such a dramatic image would have so lodged itself in the mind of any Christian, especially priest or parent or adult responsible for children, that they would be able to resist whatever was driving them toward taking advantage of a child. Apparently it was not. Nor, apparently, is the threat of legal retaliation. Those who do not live in the saving presence of God are capable of any evil at any time. Even those who do strive to live always in the saving presence of God, actually avoid evil and do good only AS LONG AS they live that presence, and, only TO THE EXTENT they live in that presence. Because we are, all of us, and even the best of us, so very fallen, as soon as we depend on ourselves only, or other human beings only, we are in trouble.
–The Rev. Eric Meyer, Immaculate Conception Parish, Chicago (Northwest Side), Sept. 30, 2012
Compiled by ChicagoCatholicNews.com