I. A Gift To Each Family/Household: anyone who has read and even reflected upon the Word of God before he/she comes to Eucharist/Mass, will, I assure you, reap the benefits of this spiritual discipline. A recent study claims that only 22% of American Catholics read the Bible regularly, and just 8% are involved in Scripture groups. However, from her very roots, our Roman Catholic Church is profoundly biblical, having “always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerates the body of Christ” (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, 21). My hope is that At Home With The Word, given to each family/household this weekend, will be an incentive for you to “fall in love” with the Scriptures, and crave even more!
II. Do You Have Musical Talent? Why not share it! We need you. Friday, November 22, was the feast of Saint Cecilia, patroness of music because she sang to God at her wedding and on her death bed. We celebrate saints in many different ways: participating in Mass, having our pets blessed, buying chocolate for our loved ones, putting our shoes at the door, etc. What better day of the church year than the Feast of Saint Cecilia to celebrate the gift of music? At Saint Stephen, music is an integral part of our liturgies and we offer many opportunities to be involved in music at Liturgy. Perhaps you would like to join our adult choir or funeral choir. If you’d rather sing alone or in a small group, or play an instrument, those are option as well. There is room for everyone! Take some time this week to pray about your gifts consider becoming part of making beautiful, prayerful music at our liturgies!
III. You Are Invited To Give Thanks Publicly! We are blessed beyond measure! We receive, and accept so many God-given gifts God’s gifts; we are to care for them responsibly, share them with charity and justice, and return a generous portion to God. In the parable of the ten lepers cleansed by Jesus (Luke 17:11-19), let’s join the one leper who returned to give humbly thanks to God. You and your family are invited to give thanks publicly on Thanksgiving Day 2019 with our community at 8:00am Mass. Bring a bag of non-perishable groceries for those less blessed. What a great way to begin this national day of Thanksgiving. (This will be the only Mass at Saint Stephen Cathedral on Thanksgiving Day).
IV. Jesus, Our Crucified King: “If you are really the Christ of God, save yourself and us” (Luke 23:35-43), shouted and taunted the rulers and soldiers as Jesus was dying on the cross. This is not the kingship of Jesus. Certainly, the One who healed lepers, fed the five thousand, and drove out demons, was capable of climbing down off the cross and walking unharmed through the angry crowd. But Jesus did not. Jesus kingship is not about his own glory or power. His kingship is not about saving Himself. Instead, in Jesus we witness a life poured out completely, to the last breath, for others. How is the kingship of Jesus different from that of other kings? What virtues does Luke’s account of Jesus death between two criminals teach us?
V. Endurance (Luke 21:17-20) must be based on more than sheer grit. There is no mere order “to fight to the last man.” It is, instead, the promise that God will be with us in the midst of our suffering and that this present order of things is not the end of it all. Christians have witnessed powerfully to their faith in the midst of persecution on countless occasions. Corrie ten Boom, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Oscar Romero, immediately come to mind, but much Christian witness takes place unheralded today, especially in Third World countries. Even if not persecuted, we bear witness to Christ anytime we bear adversity with Grace. In Western nations, few of us have suffered for our faith, but we should not imagine that it could not happen.
There’s still time to return your Time, Talent, and Treasure form. Every offering of support through serving in ministry and financial giving greatly blesses our parish community. Everyone has gifts to share and can be involved, even just a little. How is God calling you to share your gifts?