“Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus.”
27 September 2020
Brothers and Sisters,
May Christ’s work of redemption, by which he emptied himself so we might be filled with his enduring love, compassion, and mercy, have a tremendous impact on our lives!
I would like to open up our second reading from this week’s liturgy and give deeper reflection to the words of St Paul to the Philippians. Most scholars attribute Philippians Chapter 2 as some of the oldest texts of the New Testament, so verses 6 through 11 were likely already being used in prayer by the earliest Christians when Paul decides to employ this liturgical hymn to inspire the Christian community of Philippi to grow.
Growth in our present culture tends to be measured by personal achievements like credits earned, 4.0 GPAs or impressive degrees received, a high-income level, or lofty socioeconomic status. But Paul recognizes the power of community accomplishment. He offers a call to action that challenges this group of fledgling Christians to embrace their previous encouragements from Christ and become “united in heart, thinking one thing.”
As a parish community of modern-day Christians, the goal to “think one thing” unites us in a shared mission. The mission to which Christ has entrusted us: to go BEYOND evangelizing and bearing witness to Jesus should encourage us to grow in love for Christ. We should not see this growth as an aggregate of individuals growing, rather a collective body. Since we are one body but many parts, and though all of the parts are many, they form one body, and such is our parish community of Christ. We are not called to go this alone, we are brought together as a parish community to BELONG to Christ and each other in his love. As we strive for this great vision at OLPH, it is worthy to every once in awhile assess who we are doing at fulfilling the mission Jesus Christ has entrusted to us to carry out.
In Archbishop Lori’s letter A Light Brightly Visible, he identifies six-core mission priorities to serve as the lens to assess our parish: Liturgy, Welcome, Encounter, Accompaniment, Sending, and Mission Support. Also, to that end, the Archdiocese created Be Missionary Disciples to advance these priorities while providing a framework for parish discussions. As a parish, we will embrace this guidance and encourage dialogue to inspire concrete growth plans. In solidarity, I invite your input; of the six priorities, where do you see the most opportunity for our parish to continue to grow and form so that we remain dedicated to the mission to form Missionary Disciples by way of discipleship pathway, FOUR, at OLPH?
Philippians 2:6-11, the Christological (the theological study of the person and deeds of Jesus) hymn that summarizes Jesus’ work of redemption and offers us a disciple’s path as well. The attitude to which Paul calls is one of humility, relying upon the grace of God rather than one’s strength. As a parish, are we willing to empty ourselves for the sake of others? Are we prepared to go beyond the necessary donation or even generosity – to the standard of Christ embracing emptying himself on the cross so that we might be restored to a relationship with the Lord and filled with the promise of eternal life? Indeed, this measure of humble service should keep us far from complacency!
Moreover, let us ask ourselves, what is the impact of Jesus on our life? The saving work of Christ should move us to an attitude of gratitude and praise. Even during these challenging days, let’s offer our best effort to greet each other in glory and encouragement! Let us empty our frustrations, wounds, hurts, anger, and, most significantly, our pride, to make room for God’s grace that strengthens us to live in imitation of Jesus.
Some of the key considerations for this week.
- “Sign up” for Mass for October 3 and 4, register here.
- On Friday, October 2, I encourage you to invite family, friends, and neighbors to join us in praise of the Lord at 7 pm outside Harrison Hall, as well as online (so even invite distant family and friends). Together, let’s offer praise for all the marvelous works that the Lord is doing in our lives and our community.
- Each year on October 4th the Church remembers St. Francis of Assisi, a powerful saint well known for his love of all creation who continues to impact our Church and our world. To celebrate this important feast day, OLPH’s Music Director, Ben-David Francis Warner will offer an evening of guided prayer, live music, readings, and a brief reflection on the life of “God’s Troubadour”. This concert will be live streamed on OLPH’s Facebook Page and at www.olphparish.org/broadcast
- Embracing the charism of his namesake, Pope Francis has encouraged us to be good stewards and caretakers of our world– especially animals and pets who are often extremely loyal with their own ways of showing their companions compassion and care. These same pets are likely loving the fact that families are staying at home – with them – much more frequently. Next weekend, we’ll offer a prayer for our pets and animals at each of our masses.
- The month of October is recognized as Respect Life Month, with the theme Live the Gospel of Life. Respect for Life incorporates all aspects of life, from the unborn to the elderly, to those living on the margins struggling with poverty or poor health, as well as saints or sinners (yes, even the gravest sinner has dignity and worth).
- As Catholics, we have to challenge ourselves to broaden our understanding of respect for life issues and Catholic Social teaching to include upholding all persons’ rights and dignity regardless of creed or race. The call for racial and societal justice requires us to focus on challenging and often complicated cultural realities. For instance, some share frustration with the statement “Black Lives Matter” and concern the phrase negates the truth that “All Lives Matter.” I can rationalize these statements by offering All lives matter only when Black lives matter. This clarification is valuable and is often the spirit and intention of Black Lives Matter idiom. Conversations around race can be uncomfortable and fraught with profound misunderstanding making the United State’s Bishops’ Challenge to “ensure that the rights of persons in need are realized” feel overwhelming. Take heart, and focus on Jesus. When we remain reliant upon his grace, we can avoid feeling overwhelmed or helpless. Remember, our simple prayers, words of compassion, and acts of charity have a lasting impact.
- This past week, our wider community lost yet another life to teen suicide, and I’m saddened to report there have been several during September. Let us continue to check in with one another and help bear one another’s burdens, frustrations, hopelessness, and loneliness. If you are struggling, or you know a family member or friend who is considering suicide, seek help! In Maryland, dialing 211-1 is a means to find resources for those considering ending their life. You can also reach out to the National Suicide Lifeline at (800)273-8255, the Maryland Suicide Hotline at (800)422-0009, or locally the Grassroots Crisis Intervention located in Columbia at (410)531-6677 or grassrootscrisis.org. Feel more comfortable texting? Text “hello” to 471471 and you’ll be connected to a crisis counselor by text. May the Lord of hope bring comfort and consolation to those who are overwhelmed with the burdens, stresses, and pains of life, and may God give us all the strength needed to walk the path of the cross with those who are struggling.
- Family is truly a blessing but sadly, many people in our society experience the pain and divisions of divorce. I’m here to share, hope, and healing to be found. We encourage parishioners to consider joining our Surviving Divorce group or to invite friends and neighbors who would benefit. The group is starting soon. sign up or reach out for more info to Christa, our Director of Pastoral Care, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A reminder that sign up for The Chosen Series & Study sign-up ends on Wednesday, September 30th. You have the option to participate with your family, with a small group, or individually. I invite you to consider this offering as yet another way we may grow as disciples, and thereby we might grow as a parish.
- The Maryland Catholic Women’s Conference is being hosted on Saturday, October 24 from 9 am to 1 pm at St. Joseph Church in Fullerton. With the theme Made for Joy, the conference is offering both in-person and virtual participation. Learn more by watching this video or go to marylandcatholicwomen.com to register.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett