I. First Holy Communion: Long awaited “First Meal” around the Table of the Lord, the privilege of receiving Jesus, the true Gift of the Father under the form of bread, on Sunday, August 16, 2:00pm. As a community of faith, as well as their parents, we congratulate Preston Calitri, Parker Calitri, Jude Carrico, Zane Hodskins, Nicholas Lisby, Landon Marks, Duncan Owens, Stella Padgett, Vera Payne, Scarlett Ray, Olivia Reffitt, Charlie Reid, Mick Zoglmann, along with Paul David Knoop who celebrated his First Communion a little earlier.
II. Does Jesus Really Call This Gentile Woman a Dog?!? The Gospel (Matthew 15:21-28) today deals with prejudice. Jesus is outside Jewish territory in the territory of the Gentiles. Jews were forbidden to associate with Gentiles. Jews believe that they, and only they, were God’s chosen people. “Dog” was a pejorative word for Gentiles. Dogs in Jesus’ day were dirty, diseased, savage street scavengers. Jewish men did not speak to women in public, even their own wives or daughters. What happens? A gentile woman, a Canaanite, approaches Jesus for help. The disciples want to get rid of her, just like they wanted to get rid of the children in another text, and a scarlet woman in yet another. What does Jesus do? Before he helps her, he has to deal with the prejudiced minds of the people around him. With a wink in his eye, he mimics the prejudice of the crowds. “Lady, you know it is not considered right to take food from the children and give it to the dogs, don’t you? Lady, you know it is not right to take God’s love for his “chosen people” and give it to “trashy Gentiles, don’t you?” The wonderful woman picks up on his joking and plays along. “Well, sir, even little puppies get a crumb or two from the master’s table!” (Jesus must have roared with laughter). He helps this Canaanite woman, this “outsider,” who possesses faith, and teaches the crowd something about God. God’s grace is for ALL, not for one race or religious sect!
My friends, the divisions we set up among people are not recognized by God. With God there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free. It’s our fear and insecurity that causes us to make these horrible distinctions and classes and separations. The fact is that we are all created equal in God‘s eyes, each one precious and unique. The Eucharist was given to us to help us recognize the family-ness of our existence. May the Eucharist help us to see each other as God sees us—special, unique and equal!
III. What Is Happiness? According to the philosopher, Aristotle, to be happy each person has everything he/she truly needs. But Aristotle pointed out that most people believe happiness is what each thinks it is for themselves, when, in fact, it’s pretty much the same. The psychologist, Daniel Gilbert, said, “People believe that we are unique and that other people’s experiences are a poor guide to our own.” A few centuries after Aristotle, Jesus said to his disciples that “what you treasure” shows where your values lay. In other words, think about what really makes you happy. Is your heart with the Kingdom of God or is it with less permanent things? Do you look for what 2000+ years of tradition, experience, and wisdom tell you will make you happy, or do you look only to yourself?
IV. Returning and Serving? As more of our people begin to “trickle back” to public Sunday Mass, you may want to consider serving the community as a sacristan, hospitality minister, or altar server. If you have not already been trained, we will be glad to provide training for any ministry.
I realize that some of you have immune systems that have been compromised, or some are just not quite comfortable returning to Eucharist in person, and I respect your decision. It seems that some have chosen to come to a daily Mass, which are less crowded. That you may participate “from a distance,” we do livestream our 12:05pm daily Masses, and our Saturday 9:00am Mass, as well as the Saturday 5:00pm Sunday Vigil. Simply type the following link into your web browser (no Facebook Account required) www.facebook.com/ststephencathedral/live
Generally speaking, if you are out and about, going pretty much wherever you wish, then it might be good to consider returning to Mass in person. Either way, we are all called to keep the Lord’s day Holy; in other words, do not let Sunday be an ordinary day. Make time for prayer, family, and recreation. The Lord’s day is to help to “re-create” us anew, with the Lord at the center giving Him praise!
V. The Queenship of Mary: Pope Pius XII established this feast in 1954. But Mary’s queenship has roots in Scripture. At the Annunciation, Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “mother of my Lord.” As in all the mysteries of Mary’s life, she is closely associated with Jesus: Her queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship. We can also recall that in the Old Testament the mother of the king has great influence in court.
In the fourth century Saint Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen.” Later Church fathers and doctors continued to use the title. Hymns of the eleventh through the twelfth centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.” The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany celebrate her queenship. The feast is a logical follow-up to the Assumption, and is now celebrated on the octave day of that feast. You are invited to participate in the 9:00am live streamed Mass on Saturday, Aug. 22.