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Founded:1950
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish
130 Main Street
Carver, MA 02330
Phone: (508) 866-4000 Fax: (508) 866-5588
A Parish of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston MA

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_______________________SCHEDULE______________________

Weekend: Saturday 5 pm; Sunday 10 am
Weekday: 9 am (except Thursday)
Holy days: 9 am & 7 pm
Confessions: Sat. 4:15 to 4:45 pm
Eucharistic Adoration: (1st Friday) 9 am to Noon

 


Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 5, 2014

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Isaiah 5:1-7

Psalm 80:12-16, 19-20

Philippians 4:6-9

Matthew 21:33-43

 

            Parents dream for their children.  Parents invest everything in them – money, energy, education, faith.  Parents provide values and life lessons for their children.  Some wounded parents do this when they reveal through their own choices what a child’s life should not be like.   But most parents nurture their children carefully, thoughtfully, sacrificially, lavishly.  Good parents do everything possible to provide opportunities for their children’s safe, happy and fulfilling lives. 

 

            And sometimes those parents’ hearts are stung by ungrateful children who choose for themselves the wrong road.  The wrong road may be destructive.  Sometimes it’s a “wrong” road only because it leads away from a future that the parents had planned, without regard for the child’s own dreams.  And so there is disappointment when the attorney, the physician, or the millionaire becomes the farmer, the firefighter, the pharmacist.  But as invested as those parents might have been in planning their children’s future, eventually parents will come to accept their children’s different choices because they have actually arrived at the hoped-for destination:  a wholesome, fulfilling life.

 

            Sadly, sometimes there can be a complete rupture between parent and child.  Differences degenerate into rejection, condemnation, alienation.  Perhaps the parent is too rigid.  Maybe the fault is the child’s rebelliousness.  It could be both.  But despite stubbornness of heart, any normal parent still loves that child.  And children, though hesitant, still hunger for the love that calls them home.

 

            The prophet Isaiah sings of God’s relationship with the Jews.  The image in his song is not of a parent, but of a vineyard owner.  But like a parent, the vineyard owner makes an enormous investment in hiring masons to build a tower, planting protective hedges that take years to grow and groom, and establishing healthy vines that must go through years of vintages before yielding the first decent grapes for winemaking.  These vines are the owner’s “children” into whom he pours years of his love and dreams.  And in Isaiah’s song, the vineyard owner receives at harvest only wild, sour grapes. 

 

Isaiah’s song warned the Jews that their unfaithfulness to their Heavenly Father, the vine grower, will result in the destruction of that vineyard.  Historically we know that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in Judah’s utter destruction by the Babylonians.  God would, of course, send other prophets to the Jewish people in their exile to revive the hope that God would restore their homeland and religion after a time of captivity.

 

Jesus reminded his hearers of Isaiah’s song of the vineyard.  And while his story also recounted the betrayal of God by his people, his story was ultimately about hope and optimism:  The vineyard owner would hand over his vineyard to other people, faithful people.

 

You and I are those other people.  Are we the faithful ones who will produce a vintage of fine grapes for the owner of the vineyard?  Or are we harvesting for him wild, sour grapes, fit to produce not wine but vinegar?  Do we ignore the lordship of the vine grower over us in his vineyard?

 

I spent the wee hours of this Saturday morning sitting in the emergency room with parents as they gently stroked the hair of their son who had just died unexpectedly, a young man of talent and kindness, a vegan since childhood because he was so sensitive to animals.  Into him these parents had poured their hopes and dreams.  And now so much lay unfulfilled.  May he this day find the fullness of life with our Father in heaven.  Do not delay.  “… You know neither the day nor the hour.” [1]  

 

Today, parents and grandparents, look to the vines you have planted.  If the harvest is bitter, consider what you can do to restore nurture between you and your children and grandchildren.  Into them you have poured your hopes and dreams and lives.  It is too late to save the vineyard you have planted only if you refuse to act boldly, with humility.  Pray.  As Saint Paul wrote, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”  God will show you what you can do to restore your vineyard. 

 

Today, children – young or old – the message for you is similar.  Be prepared to act boldly but with humility.  Recognize the complex relationships that are forged between your parents and you.  Pray, with the Psalmist, that God “look down from heaven, and see; take care of this vine….”  Pray and act.  Pledge to God, “give us new life, and we will call upon your name.”  God will show you the way back home.

 

There is a profound comparison between one’s relationship with parents and one’s relationship with God.  This is why Jesus, when pressed to describe God, relied on the imagery of a parent.  When a disciple asked that Jesus to teach them how to pray, “He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.’” [2]  You know the rest.  And in another place Jesus described our vital intimacy with himself.  He said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” [3]

 

Hear the ballad of Isaiah.  He hoped to lead people toward repentance that was necessary to preserve their relationship with God.  Hear the parable of Jesus as he encouraged his listeners to welcome his own message rather than to continue to reject God’s plan for them.  Hear the prophet and the Lord as they remind you and me that our lives are to be the fruit of God’s vineyard here.  Our repentance, our turning from sin and selfishness, our receiving the Good News of Jesus grows the fruit that restores our relationship with the Heavenly Father, the vine grower, and our relationships with one another.



[1]  Matthew 25:13.

[2]  Luke 11:1-4.

[3]  John 15:5.

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 28, 2014

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Ezekiel 18:25-28

Psalm 25:4-9

Philippians 2:1-11

Matthew 21:28-32

 

            Samuel P. Huntington, in his 1996 book Clash of Civilizations, proposed the idea that the post-Cold War world will face problems that originate from the cultural differences between the West (generally meaning European culture) and the East (specifically the Islamic culture).  Up until that time, East-West problems meant Soviet versus NATO or American interests.  The rest of the world was quiet, except where proxy wars between the Communists and the U.S. erupted from time to time.  (Korea and Vietnam are prime examples, along with tension at the border between divided Germany.)  Some accepted Huntington’s thesis; others roundly criticized it.

 

But recent events manifest a world that is, evidently, experiencing just such a clash of civilizations.  Events in the Islamic world confound most of us.  Problems that you and I may surmise might be easily solved, through diplomacy for example, seem to offer no solutions in the world of the Middle East.  We’re left with mindless bloodletting and terror; ineffectual diplomacy; slaughter of innocents. 

 

Because we may not understand that we live in different cultures, clashes between them may go unrecognized or misunderstood until it is too late to avoid violence and mayhem.  This is because different cultures share a different history, a different mythology, a different “language.”  And even if people from various cultures were all willing to speak English, we still may not be communicating.

 

Here is an example.  I invited a Brazilian brother and sister to join me on a ski trip.  They said, “Yes, father.  This is good.”  When the day arrived, I loaded the ski rack, packed the car and waited – and waited.  But my young friends did not arrive.  I called their home, and their response was, “Oh, sorry, father; we won’t be going skiing.  But thank you for asking us.”

 

            Sister Ellen, who had worked in Brazil for decades, helped me decipher that their initial “Yes,” really meant:  “We know you will feel bad if we say we do not want to go skiing.  So we will say ‘Yes’ out of respect.”  Sister surmised they had never intended to go skiing.  From their cultural background, it seemed better to leave me packed and waiting on some snowy day than to show disrespect today.  And that is a difference within two Western cultures!  No wonder it is hard for us to understand Middle Eastern cultures.  And they ours.

 

            Listen to Jesus’ parable with something approximating the cultural ears of his original listeners.  Theirs was a culture built on a code of honor and shame.  The fourth commandment is to “honor” one’s father and mother.  When the first son refused to do his father’s bidding, he dishonored and shamed his father.  When the second son showed respect, he was being a good son.  Though the first son eventually did as he had been told, that meant little because he had shamed his father.

 

            Jesus walked in that culture.  So Jesus twisted his hearers’ expectations when, instead of asking, “Which son honored his father,” he asked, “Which of the two did his father’s will?”  The listeners had to admit, “The first.”  But they would have continued: “But what difference does that make?  The first son shamed his father.  End of story.”

            Back in the time of the first Iraq War “Baghdad Bob,” the Information Minister for Saddam’s government, announced categorically to TV reporters that no Coalition Forces had entered Baghdad – even as U.S. tanks were rumbling past his TV studio.  It seemed far better for the minister to deny the obvious than to shame his nation.  Within that culture, what he did was correct.  To us, this seems irrational.  Hence, the culture clash:  In that culture, appearance is the most real thing; it is everything.  In our culture, on our best days, we look for facts, we seek evidence.

 

Jesus clashed with his own human culture of honor and shame when he revealed that the first son’s initial shaming of his father was not the end of the story.  The second son’s formal respectfulness was not the end of the story.  Appearances do not count with God.  Action does.

 

We encountered God’s discomforting reality at last weekend’s liturgy. 

Then we learned of the vineyard owner’s “unfairness,” paying a day’s wage to men who had toiled all day long and the same day’s pay to laborers who had worked only an hour.  “Are you envious because I am generous?”  This same envy resonates in the people of today’s first reading:  “The Lord’s way is not fair!” because when someone at the last moment turns “away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”  A godless life that truly becomes repentant at the last hour will receive the same reward as those of us who have struggled a lifetime to be faithful. 

So are you and I likely to rejoice in a long-time sinner’s return?  Or are we more likely to be filled with envy or even resentment that “we could have gotten away with a lot of stuff?”  Are we judgmental of others’ lives, or even judgmental of God?  Remember, appearances do not count with God.  Action does.

 

What does the Father ask of you and me?  Saint Paul, in one verse, summed up what the Heavenly Father asks:  “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.”  This is a high goal.  Paul made it sound simple.  But this is the way to obey the Father’s will.  It is, in fact, what Jesus himself did in obedience to the Father.  That is why Paul continued, “Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.”

 

There was an ancient French custom that is now lost.  Long ago, it had been the practice to build a person’s coffin out of the wood of the table from which he had, in his lifetime, fed the poor.  The meaning was clear:  our salvation begins in our actions now.  “Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.”  Remember, appearances do not count with God.  Action does.

 




Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 21, 2014

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Isaiah 55:6-9

Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18

Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a

Matthew 20:1-16a

 

          It’s not fair!  Our politicians talk a lot about fairness.  Ayn Rand in her massive novel Atlas Shrugged nearly 60 years ago uncovered the pitfalls of a government fixated on what’s “fair.”  Ordinary people seem also to focus on fairness.  They do a lot of measuring:  jealous when someone else gets more, or has better, than I.  “It’s not fair that my brother (or sister) got a bigger slice of pie.”  “It’s not fair that I’m not as athletic or as pretty or as smart or as wealthy or as popular as someone else.”  So, I’m always looking for “justice” – what is “fair.”  But what I may mean by “justice” is that everyone else ought to be jealous of me.

 

            Today Jesus presents a story of colossal unfairness.  The workers who toiled all day in the harsh sun got the same daily wage as those who worked in the field only an hour or two.  That’s not fair, we all would agree.

 

            Now remember, the parables of Jesus compare the kingdom of God to some familiar human experience, in this instance a paycheck.  In this parable Jesus suggests that God is not fair.  And thank God for that!  While mere humans rush after fairness, God manifests generosity and mercy instead.  Think about it:  Would you and I really dare to ask God to treat you and me fairly? 

 

The problem may be that we confuse “fairness” with “equality.”  If things aren’t equal, then they must be unjust, unfair.  The Lord’s parable of the workers tells us that, in God’s kingdom, justice consists in meeting the essential needs of every individual person with compassion.  In this case, each worker’s family needed the “daily wage” just to survive; anything less would have meant the children’s empty bellies that night.

 

Is it “equal” that handicapped folks get to park closer to the mall entrance?  But it is just, since it meets their physical needs.  Is it “equal” that we take up a collection for hurricane victims when our own homes need some fixing up?  But it is just, because it is a matter of their survival. 

 

            God will accept our love and faith just as generously whether we come to the Lord for the first time as a ninety-five year old on his deathbed or whether we’ve devoted our entire life to God.  It is unfair, yes.  But as God revealed through the prophet Isaiah, “Let [the scoundrel] turn to the Lord for mercy; to our God, who is generous and forgiving.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.”  Thank God for that!  God meets us in our neediness and shows us mercy. 

 

            Some people view their relationship with God as a contract:  quid pro quo as they say in Latin – this for that.  Such a contract, however, presupposes a person’s equality with God!  We congratulate ourselves on our goodness and expect that God “owes us.”  That’s how those all-day laborers may have felt.  But Jesus tells us that you and I cannot earn our way into heaven, like laborers who sweat all day in the vineyard and earn a day’s wage.  It is our Christian hope that we will be rewarded, not because God “owes us,” but because God is compassionate toward the deserving and the undeserving – at least the deserving and undeserving as human beings measure things. 

 

            If this is so, why try so hard to be a Christian?  Why not wait to do God’s will until after we’ve spent our lives clawing over people to build our wealth?  Why not wait to worship when we’re old and frail, rather than praising God in our youth?  Why not be the last to the vineyard and the first to pick up the paycheck? 

 

            The obvious answer is that we do not know when our last hour has approached.  Some of us live to ninety, others to nineteen.  We never know the day or the hour.

 

But that’s not the real answer as to why we should live as Christians right now.  The real answer is that the parable is not just about the slackers who only worked an hour or two and still received a full day’s pay.  It’s not even about the jealousy of the hard workers who felt the injustice of equal pay for unequal work.  The parable offers a model for meaningful living. 

 

It is a challenge to those of us who do believe in God’s lordship over us to become God-like ourselves.  We are invited to experience the life-long joy of approaching other people and society in the way we hope God approaches us:  with generous mercy rather than measured fairness.  What more fulfilling life could we imagine for ourselves than being persons who communicate God’s mercy to those around us? 

 

Think of the people you genuinely admire.  Not the ones who are idolized by the crowds like movie stars and MVPs and rock stars – the ones the paparazzi stalk.  But the ones you admire and would like to be like:  perhaps a grandparent, a certain teacher, a life-long friend.  You will find in them – not perfectly, but still there – a sense that they inform justice with mercy.  The ones we admire and whom our better selves want to be like are people who are not always seeking to be equal, but seek instead to meet other people’s needs with compassion.  That is the justice that is found in the kingdom of heaven. 

 

To those who act toward others as God does with us, without always measuring out “fairness” but seeking instead to be merciful toward others, Jesus made this reassuring pledge:  “the last will be first, and the first will be last.”


Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

September 14, 2014

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Numbers 21:4b-9

Psalm 78:1b-2, 34-38

Philippians 2:6-11

John 3:13-17

 

            In the Middle East some intolerant people who claim the faith of Islam        torment people of other faiths, particularly Christians.  This intolerance has extended even to Indiana, where vandals recently marked three Christian churches with Koranic verses painted on their walls. [1]  In places like Iraq, the homes of Christians may be marked with the Arabic letter “N,” indicating that a Nazarene lives here; that is, a Christian. 

 

Some Muslims label Christians as “cross worshippers.”  Followers of the Koran hesitate saying “Jesus followers,” since the Koran teaches that Jesus is a prophet, born of the virgin Mary.  Jesus, in Koranic verse, is the only person besides Adam whose soul was created directly by God. [2]  So, Muslim haters fixate on the cross rather than on the one who hung upon it. 

 

Extremists in Syria have reverted to crucifixion as a particularly graphic message of terror. [3] Even governments in Yemen [4] and Saudi Arabia [5] have recently used this horrific method of torture and execution on political enemies and even on common thieves.

 

            We in the West have taken another tack when it comes to the cross.  Though some wear a cross or crucifix as an act of faith, many others display it as a bobble, a bit of “bling” to enhance their outfit – whether that be high fashion or street-gang styled street clothes.  The cross is everywhere in our own town – so ubiquitous that many don’t even see it.  Every six-panel door in American homes displays a cross.  Did you notice the cross on our own church?  Does our processional cross that leads us into worship capture from us even a glance?  The crucifix that stands at every Catholic altar – doesn’t it disappear into the background?

 

            Crucifixion is a gruesome thing.  The crucifix was not the Christians’ first choice as our symbol.  The earliest Christians preferred the outline of a fish as their symbol for Jesus.  By better artists Jesus was portrayed as a shepherd.  Sometimes Jesus was drawn as a lamb, the Lamb of God.  Only much later was the cross universally adopted as our sign.  And still later the image of Christ’s body was placed upon the bare cross.

 

You see, the early Christians knew crucifixion.  It was not jewelry to them; it was horrifying.  It was a means of execution the Romans used to debase Rome’s enemies, naked and publicly tortured toward a slow, agonizing death.  Yet this symbol of that hated empire and of death itself became our symbol of sacrificial love.  For through Jesus’ obedience to the Heavenly Father and love for you and me, he allowed himself to die ignominiously on a cross.  The very thing that killed people – would save them.  By his resurrection, Jesus defeated sin and death.  We are free!

 

The Church has selected for this feast day a reading from the Book of Numbers.  It recounts how God’s complaining people were inflicted with saraph serpents, whose bite was like fire.  Many died.  When the people repented, God commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent, mount it on a pole, and lift it up before the people.  If the people looked upon this symbol, they would live.  The thing that killed people would now save them.

 

And so it is with Christ’s ultimate act of love on the cross.  Jesus was “lifted up” like the bronze saraph “so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

 

For me, the cross and crucifix do not blend into the woodwork.  At home there is a crucifix prominently displayed in my living room, one in each bedroom.  The processional cross is my focus as we begin and complete this communal worship.  The cross is a comfort, signifying Christ’s love for me personally and for our community of faith.  It is prominent in my home because it is a sign of my trust in God’s love.

 

Because Jesus “emptied himself” of the glory of the Trinity, “coming in human weakness” and became “obedient to death, even death on a cross” God “greatly exalted him.”  Good Friday was defeated by Easter.  For this reason, despite any difficulties in life – even the persecution of our faith – you and I have confidence in God’s love and power to save.  We acknowledge and with courage confess “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

 

Every time we make the sign of the cross on our body, every time we look upon the cross or venerate the crucifix, you and I profess our readiness to take Jesus seriously.  We are his disciples.  Jesus is Lord.  We embrace the whole gospel fully.  We are ready to die for our beliefs.  We are prepared to live by the values that Jesus taught.  We are committed to the Heavenly Father, to Jesus and to one another in the power of the Holy Spirit. 



[2]  Huston Smith, Islam: A Concise Introduction (HarperSanFrancisco, 2001) p. 34.

 

[4]  Joshua Hammer, “Yemen: Days of Reckoning,” National Geographic (September 2012).

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUR MISSION STATEMENT

This Roman Catholic, God-centered community of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish seeks to be compassionate and faith-filled, empowered by the Holy Spirit through the grace of the Eucharist and the sacraments to proclaim and live the gospel as believers in the risen Christ.  Therefore, we commit to share joyfully our time, talents and treasure in works of mercy and justice both within and beyond our parish. 



                                                                            

 

 
 

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