A word from Pope Francis ~ “The holy anxiety for the Gospel is the only anxiety that gives peace.”
This weekend, we celebrate the 29th Sunday in the Ordinary Time of the Year. We continue our sequential reading of Luke’s Gospel (Year C), and today we hear the first of two parables on prayer found in Luke 18. The second parable will be in next Sunday’s Gospel. Each of the readings today gives us perspectives on persistence. Persisting in prayer does not only mean praying continuously. Our prayer needs to be an expression of our faith – a faith which is based on our relationship with the Lord Jesus and a faith which trusts in God’s gracious love for us.
Each autumn, we conduct our annual “Covenant Renewal” process and commitment weekend. In past years, we had called this the “Stewardship as a Way of Life” commitment weekend. We have adjusted the title this year to recognize that the covenant we are renewing was originally begun by God when we were baptized. It was then that God adopted each one of us as his beloved sons and daughters, gave us the gift of his Spirit and promised us the inheritance of eternal life. Sometimes we forget that God took the first step with each of us.
Our annual “Covenant Renewal” will take place at each Mass next weekend. Renewal materials were mailed to each registered household last week. Please spend some time prayerfully reviewing the details of this invitation. We are asking that each person in our parish commit to spending a minimum of one hour in worship each week and one additional hour in service or participating in a ministry of some kind. The starting point in our response to renewing our covenant is trust and gratitude.
As God’s beloved sons and daughters, we believe that everything we have is God’s gift to us. All that we have and all that we are is a gift from God, who loves us more than we could ever understand. Even in our darkest moments, God has never abandoned us. We saw the truth of that belief as we lived through the very dark and difficult times of the COVID pandemic. Even those moments of restlessness that we felt in those dark times were an invitation to turn to God in different ways than we had before. We take our cue from Saint Augustine, who also experienced a similar restlessness in his own life. His inner turmoil led him to a deeper realization – “You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
We can receive God’s gifts with open hands and say “thank you,” or respond with closed fists and claim God’s gifts as “mine!” Whatever our response, God’s gifts continue to flow. If we receive them with open, grateful hands, God’s gifts can flow through us and bless those around us. Our call is to gratefully receive God’s gifts with open hands, let them bless us and then let them flow through us to bless others. We may have begun life as babies with clenched fists, claiming everything as “mine,” but now our call is to renew our covenant as grateful sons and daughters, accept everything we have received and share it with others.
Next Sunday, we will have the opportunity to take the next step in living our covenant with God as beloved sons and daughters by trusting in God’s faithful love for us and being grateful for all that God has given us. Hopefully, we can renew our commitment by praying a minimum of one hour a week and spending another hour serving in a ministry. Please look for the important “Covenant Renewal” materials in the mail.
Normally, we would observe Mission Sunday next weekend. Since that will be our “Covenant Renewal” weekend, we will postpone Mission Sunday until the weekend of October 30. We will take up the extra collection for Mission Sunday in two weeks.
We are approaching the “peak season” of the autumn colors. God’s hand is apparent all around us. Let us take time to notice the beauty. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy