In today’s Gospel we hear: “Jesus said to his disciples: you have heard that it has been said ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you…” He gives a number of sayings that were familiar to the people of his time –ways of dealing with certain situations, but then adds something new to each one. Jesus’ teaching stretches those who hear him to a new way of acting, a new way of thinking. This is where we read that Jesus tells us to “Love our enemies.” While these sayings of Jesus shocked those who heard him at his time, they challenge us to a new way of thinking and acting in our contemporary world. He has a different, a new way of dealing with tough situations. Do you find this Gospel challenging? Do you scratch your head and say, “I don’t know if this is what I want to door if I am capable of doing it.”
Next Sunday we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Korean Community’s presence at St. Francis Church. During these years they have grown tremendously and it is a blessing for us to have them here at St. Francis. Every year many adult Koreans are baptized at the Easter Vigil; they have many educational programs; a number of groups of the Legion of Mary; inspiring concerts; a young adult community and much more. Congratulations and may God Bless Fr. Michael, Sr. Hasang, your community leaders, and all your volunteers for all the good work that you do!
A special congratulations to the Dwelling Place that is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. The Franciscan Sisters of Allegany began this ministry to women 40 years ago. Since then they have provided shelter for women who are trying to get themselves “back on their feet” and live independently, have a job, and be responsible for their day to day lives. Through counseling and education, they help the women acquire the skills needed to accomplish their goal of responsible living. Sisters from other communities are involved with the day to day running of the facility. Congratulations!
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
The mission statement of the Church of St.Francis of Assisi reads:
“We witness to our faith by ministering to everyone,
especially those who are poor, alienated or oppressed.”
We, the Friars and Staff of St. Francis Church, stand firm in fulfilling this mission especially for immigrants at this time of confusion and tension. Our mission comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Franciscan heritage and in union with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who “believe in assisting all those who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion…welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope.”
We have felt the anguish and pain of so many people. We stand in solidarity with them in our attempt to offer hope and whatever assistance we can offer. Our whole community stands ready to fulfill this mission, and our Migrant Center offers ongoing support to those who are in need of assistance with migrant issues. If there is anyone in need of assistance or has concerns about immigration matters, please contact our Migrant Center at the Church at 212-736-8500.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
“The divine persons are subsistent relations, and the world, created according to the divine model, is a web of relationships. Creatures tend toward God, and in turn,it is proper to every living being to tend towards other things, so that throughout the universe we can find any number of constant and secretly interwoven relationships. This leads us to marvel at the manifold connections existing among creatures, but also to discover a key to our own fulfillment. The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures. In this way, they make their own that Trinitarian dynamism which God imprinted in them when they were created. Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity.”
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The Presentation of the Lord pulls many favorite mementos from the Catholic cupboard: candles, blessings, Christmas and church. The origins of the feast lie in ancient Jewish custom. On the 40th day after childbirth, parents brought the infant to the temple to present him/her to the Lord and to purify the mother. St. Luke tells us that Joseph and Mary sacrificed two birds for the occasion after the birth of Jesus. Count up 40 days after Christmas and you’ll come to February 2.
Until the 1960s, we used to call this day “The Purification of Mary.” The title changed for several reasons. We no longer believe that women who give birth need purification, and the true significance of the feast concerns Jesus coming to the Temple. He is the Promised One, whose light will shine, beaming rays of hope to all the world. Also on the old calendar, this feast closed the Christmas season. Now we end the Christmas season with the Baptism of the Lord. So, even though the date for the Presentation still depends on Christmas, it has become a feast of ordinary time. Since it is a feast of the Lord, it takes precedence even when it falls on Sunday. The Church has a tradition of blessing candles on this day. On the day following this feast, our calendar permits the option of commemorating St. Blase, a bishop and martyr of the early church. Legend has it that he once freed a child from choking, and while imprisoned under persecution he received light from friends who visited his cell with candles.
Our church still uses candles from the Presentation of the Lord in the blessing of the faithful’s throats on St. Blase’s Day. Blessed candles in our churches and homes signify the living presence of Christ in our community. With Christ as our light we warm a lost and wintry world.
Stewardship: Caring for God’s Creation – Laudato si: Chapter 6: Ecological Education and Spirituality
“The Father is the ultimate source of everything, the loving and self-communicating foundation of all that exists. The Son, his reflection, through whom all things were created, united himself to this earth when he was formed in the womb of Mary. The Spirit, infinite bond of love, is intimately present at the very heart of the universe, inspiring and bringing new pathways.
The world was created by the three Persons acting as a single divine principle, but each one of them performed this common work in accordance with his own personal property. Consequently, ‘when we contemplate with wonder the universe in all its grandeur and beauty, we must praise the whole Trinity.’ For Christians, believing in one God who is Trinitarian communion suggests that the Trinity has left its mark on all creation.”
He has also written A Fresh Look at the Mass: A Helpful Guide to Better Understand and Celebrate the Mystery.
He gives new insights throughout the book; thus, helping us to understand how the Mass prayers, gestures, and symbols bring us “into a new world – the real world – of relationship with God and one another.” Knight examines each part of the Mass, enhancing each section with quotations from Pope Francis and other sources, putting it into a “life context.” We see clearly how Mass relates to our personal world and to the larger world that we live in. I think that you will find the book refreshing, insightful and helpful in your own spiritual life.
Copies are available in the lobby of the Parish House.
Today’s Gospel says: “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” These two statements refer to us – to you and me. This is what we are in God’s eyes; this is what Jesus wants us to be. The first reading from Isaiah tells us specifically when we are “salt”and “light.” It says we are salt and light when we share our bread with the hungry, when we shelter the oppressed and homeless,when we clothe the naked and when we do not turn our back on our own. This reading reminds us that we are all sisters and brothers; we are all children of God; some may be more fortunate in life and others may find life difficult, but we are meant to lookout for one another. This is one reason why many times we may be frustrated because we don’t know what to do to relieve the suffering of another person. It is an awesome calling that we have received, but God wouldn’t call us unless he knew that we would respond and work to help our sister or brother.
Please keep our Young Adults in your prayers. Joe Nuzzi andI will be accompanying a group of 45 to Mount Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappingers Falls, New York next weekend. This is the fourth Young Adult Retreat that we have had here at St. Francis. It is a great weekend and we are grateful for your prayers.
Reservations are already coming in for our November Pilgrimage to Fatima, Spain and Lourdes. Information is available at the reception desk or by emailing me at email@example.com.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
Chances are, you know Matthew’s Gospel better than you know the other three. It contains the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer. It highlights the ministry of Peter. In it, Jesus urges the disciple to works of mercy because “what you do to the least you do to me.” It records stories about the birth of Jesus, the coming of the magi, the flight into Egypt, and the slaughter of the innocents. Its account of the death of Christ thunders with an earthquake. For centuries, Matthew’s popular Gospel dominated the Scripture readings Catholics heard at Mass. But when the lectionary was revised in 1969, it became associated with the first of a three-year cycle of readings. During ordinary time of year A, we expect to hear Matthew when we attend Sunday Mass.
Most people assume that the author of this Gospel was the tax collector who decided to follow Jesus. However, this is not likely. Many Scripture scholars believe the Gospel was written late in the first century by an anonymous Jewish Christian who lived at Antioch in Syria. The author borrowed much of Mark’s Gospel– a pointless method if the writer had been an eyewitness to the events. The Gospel circulated long before the name “Matthew” became attached to it.
Matthew’s Gospel seems intended for an audience of Christians very familiar with the Jewish way of life: believers who came from a prosperous area, but who were threatened by persecution. Its central message is embedded in the title associated with Jesus at his birth, “Emmanuel,” “God is with us.” In Jesus, God is with us. To Jesus, we respond as disciples. The writer of Matthew’s Gospel is sometimes symbolized as a man or an angel, recalling the genealogy that opens the book. Even though this Gospel was probably written after Mark’s, it appears first in the New Testament and first in the lectionary cycle.
-Fr. Paul Turner
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