From Our Pastor: 16th Sunday In Ordinary Time
This weekend we look at the pillars of stewardship in our readings, played out beautifully. First, we see Abraham and the pillar of hospitality. We often underestimate this pillar. It is of utmost importance to evangelization. Making someone feel welcome and loved and a part of something is the most fundamental way to connect them to Christ. If you start with the teachings of the Church, without making them feel welcome, you won’t get to teach them much. If you start with making them feel welcome, they will open their hearts and listen when you teach them. Hospitality is of utmost importance. Abraham is by the terebinth, tree kind of like an oak or cashew tree, that is great shade in this place. He calls out for these three men, who are complete strangers, to stop and allow him to welcome them. He invites them to rest in the shade of this tree and bathes their feet. He and Sarah then feed them with water, and rolls, and meat, and curds and milk, while he waits on them. He blesses them abundantly but has no idea it was the Lord appearing to Abraham. They are then told of the abundance of God’s blessing in the gift of a son soon. This son becomes the Patriarch Isaac.
In the second reading we have St. Paul even tell us he is “a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship.” He talks about manifestation, the riches of the glory, admonishing, and teaching. This is pillar of formation. We are called to teach ourselves and, as St. Paul says, “everyone.” Knowledge of our faith and knowledge of the Scriptures is knowledge of Christ. Knowledge of Christ is relational with a church and with His people. We don’t walk this pillar alone, but feed off the sharing of our knowledge and experiences of Christ. This is why Bible study, small faith sharing groups, the women’s saint study group, the secular Franciscans, Cursillo prayer groups, our youth group, and the multitudes of larger and smaller faith sharing groups are of utmost importance for EVERYONE. For, as St. Paul says, everyone needs this. If you are not part of at least one of these groups, start NOW...ASAP! Come! You need this to grow your faith.
In the readings this weekend we see two examples of service. Abraham not only is hospitable to the three men which is seen by the Fathers of the Church to be a revelation of and point to the Trinity, but Abraham also serves them. In the Gospel today we also see Martha who is busy serving. Don’t misunderstand Jesus in the Gospel in saying Mary chose the better part, because Jesus isn’t downplaying serving. He is just reminding us of the last pillar as one of the most important aspects in our life of faith, which is why I will touch on it last. Martha and Abraham are serving the Lord directly, but so can you. You can do this by helping in roles in the liturgy at Mass, as a choir member, an usher, a lector, an extraordinary minister of holy communion, a sacristan, part of the liturgy planning committee, and so many more opportunities. You can serve the Lord in the multitudes of ways by encountering Christ in service in our food pantry and in community assistance, in Holy Name Society, in the Ladies of St. Francis, in the scouts, in stewardship committee, Austin’s Army, and in the multitudes of service groups that do so much for our parish, our school, and our community.
Last but not least, the pillar of stewardship called prayer. That is seen so directly today in the Gospel in Martha’s sister, Mary. She has stopped everything and is sitting at the feet of Jesus. If we just sit with Him, rest with Him, and listen to Him, this is the “better part.” It is amazing when we stop our busy and hectic days to pray, how much less busy and hectic and chaotic our lives can become rooted in Him. It is also why we should take Sundays to not only come to Mass, but rest in Him the entire day, to take vacations, to go on retreats like Quest, TEC, Cursillo, White House retreats, and so many more. Stop to rest. If you haven’t been on one of these retreats, GO now, and do not wait. The Lord is waiting for you to stop and rest in Him. Take Sundays to rest and be together as a family and eat together as a family. Prayer and rest in God are not time wasted, nor is it lazy. God rested on the seventh day and so should we in prayer and in just sitting at His feet.
On this note, I will be on vacation to Minocqua, Wisconsin with my extended family. We all used to go for one to two weeks every year since my grandpa was a boy. He would go as a kid for a couple months. Minocqua is like our second home. I look forward to the memories relived there and the new memories made there. I look forward to the rest there and the time with family. We usually boat, although the family boat isn’t working this summer, and float and swim and eat and play cards and games, and just have a fun time. The following week is the National Order of the Arrow Conference, and I oversee all the religious services for this conference of 6000 scouts and scouters from around the nation and world. This is one of my positions as Chaplain in scouting. I didn’t plan them back-to-back, but I hope you will forgive me being gone two weeks in a row. Be patient if I don’t get back to you for some time. Thank you to Fr. Rafal for covering everything, and thanks to Fr. Bob Barko, OFM, for coming back to work from here a bit and help cover so it’s not all on Fr. Rafal.
-Rev. Steven Arisman