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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

 


Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 26, 2014

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Exodus 22:20-26

Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51

1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10

Matthew 22:34-40

 

            For the Old Testament Jews, there were 613 commandments.  Thankfully for catechism classes today someone back in ancient times (in David Letterman-fashion) made a list of the Top Ten.  These are the ones you and I memorized.  But, theologically speaking, all of the 613 were considered of equal importance.  And trespassing any of them was equally serious.

 

            There were, of course, religious teachers who tried to simplify for average people that which only religious scholars might be expected to know.  For example the great rabbi Hillel, who lived at the same time as Jesus, taught, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.  That is the whole Law; the rest is explanation.  Go and learn.”

 

            The Pharisees set a trap for Jesus:  they goaded him to choose the greatest commandment.  Of course all 613 were of equal importance, so anything Jesus said would minimize most of them and enmesh him in a theological error.  But Jesus answered boldly that the greatest commandment is the first, the commandment that every observant Jew would pray every morning, the Shema Y’srael – found in the Book of Deuteronomy:  “Hear, oh Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” [1] 

 

            I am looking at a church filled with believers.  And we can all attest to the ideal of loving God wholeheartedly.  That is self evident.  But how is that love to be measured?  How do we know that we do love God – or love God enough?  

 

            So Jesus went a step further, quoting from the Book of Leviticus:  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [2]  And just as the great rabbi Hillel had observed, Jesus also explained, “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

 

            The American philosopher and social commentator Eric Hoffer remarked, “It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one’s neighbor.” [3] In other words, it is easier to love in the world of ideas; not so much in the real world.  Or as one comedian said, “I love humanity; it’s people I can’t stand.”

 

            We are to love our neighbor as ourself.  What has this to do with God?  And what has this to do with ourself?  Two things:  First, the way we love our neighbor is a kind of thermometer of the degree to which we have allowed God’s love to dwell within ourself. [4] We need to be careful about this:  Remember that love is not a sentiment, not a feeling.  We don’t need to like those whom we must love.  But we do acknowledge that they are God’s creatures and worthy of respect and affirmation.  As an act of faith, we acknowledge through our love of others that “God is love.” [5]  As the Harvard theologian Harvey Cox wrote, “Therefore, loving, including the neighbor, including the enemy, is an act of participation in the life of God.” [6]

 

            And even when we do not love our neighbor perfectly, God’s love within us can heal this lack in us.  God’s love within actually makes our attempts to love our neighbors possible. “The more we desire to love all men, the more God’s love will be perfected in us.” [7]

 

            Second, look at the call to love neighbor “as yourself” from another point of view.  At first blush “as yourself” seems to mean that we should love others as much as we love ourselves.  And, of course, loving others “demands that we first love ourselves and let ourselves be loved by God.” [8]  Some people, sadly, “fail to appreciate, to reverence, who we are and who it is that lives in us.” [9] A person burdened with self-loathing who tries to love others may find it a robotic, sterile experience.  Such a person faces burn-out and may quickly abandon his or her efforts.  To be fruitful in loving your neighbor “as yourself,” you must understand that you are loved and loveable yourself.  We all need to know that we are loved by God.

 

            And here is where a mystery occurs.  What loving a neighbor “as yourself” also means is that the more you do love your neighbor, the more you will love yourself.  Ironically, the less you love your neighbor, the less you love yourself.  Jesus, in the Great Commandment, revealed that living a fulfilled life revolves around constantly giving ourselves to those with whom we share that life.  

 

            So Jesus was able to say, “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”  The way to love God fully is to love our neighbor.  The love of neighbor is in fact, a participation in the life of God, for God is love.  And in the act of loving our neighbor, our own love of self actually grows, inviting us – by manifesting that love toward others – to live a truly fulfilled life.

 



[1]  Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

[2]  Leviticus 19:18.

[3]  Eric Hoffer, as quoted in Reader’s Digest, July 1996.

[4]  George A. Mahoney, Inward Stillness (Denville, NJ:  Dimensions Books, 1976), p. 172.

[5]  1 John 4:8.

[6]  Harvey Cox, “Shifting Discourse,” Harvard Divinity Bulletin (Autumn 2008), p. 13.

[7]  Mahoney, Op.Cit.

[8]  Edward J. Farrell, Gathering the Fragments: A Gospel Mosaic (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1987, p. 16.

[9]  Farrell, Op.Cit.

 


Twenty-eighth Sunday in OrdinaryTime

October 12, 2014

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Isaiah 25:6-10a

Psalm 23:1-6

Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20

Matthew 22:1-14

 

            I don’t notice trends in my homilies.  I never plan a series as it seems some Protestant preachers do, announcing, “The next six Sundays I’ll be speaking on ‘Sin and Grace.’”  Priests are constrained to keep close to the scriptures as set forth sequentially in our lectionary.  But as I reviewed my homilies of recent weekends I realized that the gospels themselves were trending in a specific direction.

 

            There is a thread connecting these scriptures, summed up in the idea of “insiders / outsiders.”  We heard the parable of the vineyard owner who hired workers at various hours of the day and paid the ones who had worked only a few hours the same daily wage as those who worked all day.  He did not treat the late arriving workers as outsiders who should receive short-pay and those who worked all day as insiders deserving a bonus.  Jesus said of God’s kingdom, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.”

 

            Then we heard of the son who became his society’s outsider for shaming his father when he refused to work in the vineyard.  The insider was his brother, who quickly agreed to do his father’s bidding.  But the outsider reconsidered and went to the vineyard after all, while the insider reneged and failed to do his father’s will.  Jesus said to the elders of the people, “Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.”

 

            Last weekend the insiders were the ones given a vineyard to tend for a landowner but who at harvest time refused to give him the produce due the owner.  Instead, they mistreated and killed his messengers, even his son.  So the landowner killed the tenant farmers and gave his vineyard to the care of outsiders.  Jesus said to the elders of the people, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

 

            And the thread continues today:  insiders / outsiders.  As a noted preacher observed a hundred years ago, “When I arrive in heaven I expect to be surprised by three things: first, to see who is there; second, to discover who is not there; and last, to arrive there myself.” [1] God does not measure insiders and outsiders as humans do.

 

            In today’s parable Jesus draws our attention to those invited to a wedding feast.  To our own celebrations we naturally invite people we like.  So did this king to his son’s wedding.  But some of the insiders refused to come.  Don’t know why.  But that’s A-listers for you; somewhat self-important.  So the king went to his B-list.  They are “sort-of” insiders, but not top shelf.  Many of these were distracted by other things engaging their attention:  they got a better offer or they were busy with farm or business.  Finally the king invited outsiders from the main roads and streets the “bad and good alike.”

 

            If we were to pull the thread that weaves through these parables what will unravel is an understanding that the least here on earth, the outsiders, are valued beyond measure in God’s kingdom.  Perhaps the response called for is that you and I might have to alter our perspective on who are the insiders and the outsiders.  And we might have to soften our hearts and act differently toward some unexpected people. 

 

            There is a universality in God’s call to intimacy with himself.  In Jesus we discover the living example of how God reaches out to those whom righteous people may discount as unworthy: the last to the vineyard’s work, the disrespectful but penitent son, the replacement tenant farmers; the tax collectors and prostitutes, the stone that the builders rejected, the last who will become first.  What a revelation of God’s abundant mercy!

 

            But in celebrating God’s mercy we may become complacent, even wishy-washy.  We are tempted to think the Kingdom of God has no standards other than mercy and forgiveness.  Here we get into the area of moral relativism, where there are no standards.  And even if there are standards, God will forgive us everything.  So why bother?

 

            But in God’s kingdom there are standards and there are expectations.  We hear of the man lately invited to the wedding feast of the king’s son but who was not wearing a wedding garment.  There have been several explanations for this man’s situation.  But the clearest one is that he had no excuse.  When confronted for the absent wedding garment, “He was reduced to silence.”  He had accepted the invitation to the king’s banquet, but he would not conform himself to that occasion, that celebration.  As Jesus said, “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

 

            So, in addition to softening our hearts toward the so-called outsiders – as humans judge these people – we must also consider our own acceptance of the invitation to enter the kingdom of God.  We have come into the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in this assembly, on this altar.  While some of our brothers and sisters have refused Christ’s invitation outright (for they do not worship with us at the Eucharist), at the same time we who have responded to the invitation may sometimes take Christ for granted.  We have become lackadaisical.   At least we go to Mass!  But each of us must examine ourselves.  Have we fully conformed ourselves to God’s kingdom, to the Body and Blood of Christ?  Are we living as disciples – right there in the celebration of our faith?  Or are we hiding in the shadows, refusing to don the wedding garment of Christian discipleship?

 

            As the words of institution are spoken over the bread and wine, the priest says of Christ’s Blood that it “will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The invitation goes out to all God’s creatures, “many” will hear the call and respond wholeheartedly, but not everyone will.



[1]  John Wesley.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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