Fr. Mike’s Communication for the Aug 16, 2020

“Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
-Matthew 15:27

16 Aug 2020

Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings! At first glance, Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel can seem troubling. After remaining silent, the Canaanite woman approaches Jesus’ crying out for him to help her daughter. Jesus’ response appears insensitive and uncaring, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs?” What does this mean; has the Messiah come for only the Jewish people or for all?

Many of Jesus’ closest disciples held firm to the belief that Jesus would bring about a worldly kingdom, assuming power and authority, resulting in a “golden age” for his Jewish ancestors. Jesus consistently shattered this presumption, challenging his disciples’ expectations and stretching them personally. As a result, after his Resurrection, Jesus sends the disciples to all four corners of the earth. Later, Jesus would appear to Paul sending a former persecutor of early Christians as an unlikely evangelist to the Gentiles. 

The woman in today’s Gospel offers us significant lessons on prayer. First and foremost, plead your case; ask for help with confidence and faith. The Lord invites us to describe our needs. In particular, God loves when we plead for others’ sake, like the Canaanite mother imploring on behalf of her child. What needs might we witness in our daily lives? Are we compassionate towards others’ challenges, or do we choose to remain unaware of suffering outside our own lives?

A second lesson is the witness of her faithful perseverance. When her request is not immediately satisfied, she repeats her daughter’s needs with confidence. Her pride remains unbruised, and she’s not concerned with how the disciples might view her. I encourage you to imitate this persistence, don’t let doubt or worry distract you from persevering in your requests. In humility, call for God’s help recognizing our inherent dignity as his daughters and sons, never presuming what we are owed but aware that our Lord desires what is good for us.

We are continuing to look at the instruction, “The Pastoral Conversion of the Parish Community in the Service of the Evangelizing Mission of the Church,”  we are encouraged to examine several critical areas; the role of the Parish, the Religious and the laity. Parishes are called to create a “culture of encounter” by helping others to experience the love and care of God while providing outreach to our greater community. This pandemic has caused many personal trials, with many among us dealing with increased isolation resulting in deep loneliness. Despite the challenges of this current health crisis, we continue to strive to connect others to God and offer creative opportunities to BELONG to a community centered around Christ, where each can find genuine friendships and loving support. As we aim to protect and care for our health and well-being, much of what would have been offered as an on-campus experience is now offered virtually.  This change in our inability to be physically present has not changed our vision to grow as Missionary Disciples rooted in meaningful relationships with one another and our Lord. We are called to assist each other in our growth as disciples and I invite you to pray through this week how the Lord is guiding you to grow in relationship with Him and your neighbor. Perhaps, in your prayer, He will guide you in your next step?  And then,  you will explore how we, at the parish can help you with that next step?  Remember, we are here for you,  please call upon us. 

Parish leadership is addressed as well, making clear that pastoral duties should be a priority of: offering the liturgy and the sacraments, preaching and teaching of the faith, meeting the wider community’s needs through charitable outreach. While parish structures and organizations have limitations, these expectations provide a reliable standard of good practices and values to protect Parish assets, which often have been entrusted by parishioners for the sake of our Mission.

Focusing on the laity’s role, the ministries and mission of the Parish are the responsibility of all the faithful. The document highlights the Parish challenge in providing “a formation adequate to the function that they are called to perform, and maintain personal and pastoral conduct that is exemplary, making them convincing in carrying out their service.” (§97)

Two particular structures are indicated for maintaining viable parishes: the finance council and the parish pastoral council. The OLPH finance committee is tasked with the care of Parish assets, ensuring that our policies, procedures, and standards offer sound controls and smart planning. Our committee meets monthly to review financial statements and our fiscal status with regard to the budget for the year. While this pandemic has profoundly impacted our financial health, I am incredibly grateful to those committed to sustaining our parish vision to form disciples and care for the spiritual and physical needs of our parishioners and neighbors. Thank you for your trust and generous investment in the Parish. We intend to remain accountable and transparent in our use of our resources.

This past year, our Pastoral Council has been discussing its role in Parish life. As the name suggests, the focal point remains on assuring the Pastoral Ministry of the Parish. The Instruction emphasizes the “diversity of charisms and ministries” from the Body of Christ and the goal of the Pastoral Council to call forth the essential role of the People of God in the Church’s mission. My hope is that our Pastoral Council will serve as champions of FOUR, our discipleship pathway. The Pastoral Council helps assess how we are doing in communicating this vision and realizing it in our parish life. I want to thank the Pastoral Council for your service, especially those who stepped down this year as their term draws ended. I also offer gratitude to parishioners who accept their role as the baptized faithful with a passion for serving and growing in faith.

The Instruction ends with an invocation to Mary, Mother of Evangelization. As we celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption this weekend, let us recognize that in imitating the “yes” to God that Mary lived in such a profound way, we participate in the work of salvation. As Mary was assumed into heaven as a special honor, may the Lord Jesus lead us home. Let us keep praying for one another. Let us continue to work towards a united parish, built on trust and reliance upon the gifts of the Lord in one another.

    • Other Happenings at OLPH for the week of August 16-22:
    •  “Sign up” for Mass for August 22 and 23, register here.
    •  Please keep in your prayers all our youth. In a particular way, those who were confirmed this weekend and others who were ordained earlier in the summer. May the Lord continue to pour forth an abundance of grace upon them that they may bear witness to the glory of God.
    •  This week, please pray for Bishop-designate Bruce Lewandowski, who will be ordained a bishop on Tuesday and Deacons, Justin Gough, Jeremy Smith, Evan Ponton, Brendan Fitzgerald Zach Crowley who will be ordained priests on Saturday.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.

In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett