Dear Parish Family,
I have lots of questions today…and maybe a few answers. Without peeking, do you remember the last sentence of the Gospel today? Or if you are reading the bulletin prior to Mass, pay attention to that last sentence in Luke's Gospel: "But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" What did Jesus mean by this? One definition of faith is: a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. Easy question, right? Faith is our belief in God. I'm pretty sure everyone reading this believes in God. But what does that mean? If we say we have faith and believe in God, how does that translate into our daily lives?
The mission statement from St. Magdalen's is a start: "The Roman Catholic Church of St. Magdalen de Pazzi exists to echo Jesus' call to all, 'Come and follow me". Following Jesus starts with the source and summit of our relationship with Jesus Christ: receiving his body and blood at the Eucharistic table. We make this commitment to follow Jesus in this most basic but miraculous way every time we get together with our parish community or at another Catholic community anywhere in the world. But to come and follow Jesus is much more than daily, weekly or monthly participation in the Mass and the Eucharistic meal. Don't get me wrong. It is an essential part of our commitment to living our Christian faith.
But following Jesus means to be a disciple of Jesus. And how do we become a disciple of Jesus? The USCCB (United States Catholic Conference of Bishops) issued a pastoral letter called: Stewardship: A Disciple's Response. In that letter, it says that "once one chooses to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, stewardship is not an option". So, stewardship is something we need to do to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. What is stewardship all about? Well, a simple definition is: recognition that everything we have is a gift from God. Once we truly embrace this concept, then it can guide our thoughts and actions so that we can move towards becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. And these gifts that we have received are not ours to keep. We have an obligation to share our gifts with others. What gifts do you have that you can share with others?
My wife, Mary, and I attended a 4-day International Catholic Stewardship Conference (ICSC) in mid-September in Dallas, TX. During one of our Masses at the conference, the homilist talked about the impression that Pope Francis was making during the early part of his papacy. He said that Pope Francis was making it a point to "comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable". This is exactly what Jesus did by healing the sick and challenging the Pharisees. Stewardship and becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is all about comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable. If you are part of our parish family that is disturbed due to your financial situation or a poor relationship with your spouse or children, or some other problem, then St. Magdalen's is here to help you. If you are comfortable in your status at St. Magdalen's as a weekly church attendee, then you might find yourself disturbed. Why would you find yourself disturbed? Paul hinted at disturbing the comfortable in his letter to Timothy today: "I charge you... [to] proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching". And proclaiming the word means that we all need to strive to become disciples of Jesus Christ. How can we as a parish move towards this objec- tive? How can we become better disciples of Christ that ultimately will lead us to salvation? I don't know exactly how. But I do know that it needs to start with prayer, because you or I cannot accomplish it on our own. And we need to make stewardship part of our lives so that we can use our gifts and talents to help those in our parish family and in our local community.
My wife, Mary, has accepted the role of chairperson of the Stewardship Commission here at St. Magdalen's.You will be hearing more in the coming weeks and months as we embrace becoming disciples of Jesus Christ through stewardship activities. Pray for Mary as she starts a new chapter as she moves towards becoming a disciple here at St. Magdalen's and we will pray for you so that we can all grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Yours in Christ,