12 OCTOBER 2008

       The ending of this Gospel can be viewed as foreboding. “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” I would venture to say that we would all like to be invited to sit at the table of the Lord, but you have to wonder who the few would be that would be chosen. We should all go through our day to day lives striving to be one of the invited, but we never really know if what we do is good enough. If we follow the Ten Commandments and listen to and live with and accept the moral teachings of the Church, you have to think that you may have a lock on an invitation. I submit to you that all the things we do for the good of our fellow man, if it is done only to gain the good graces of the Lord hoping for an invitation to join him, then this may not be the best way to join him. The things we do for our fellow man should be done from the heart and with all the love and caring that Jesus showed his followers. If we continue to do the right thing for the right reasons, I believe we will all share in the just rewards that Jesus talks about.

       By being open to the Holy Spirit through thoughtful and considerate prayer we can be more open to the expectations of what our Lord wants and needs us to do. As we are a very large parish here at St. Malachy it takes many laypersons and volunteers to make our parish vibrant loving and caring. For us to get where we are right now in our Liturgy today, as we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of the Eucharist, it took a lot our fellow parishioners to get our church and the altar ready for this, the celebration we are gathered here today to participate in. The lay persons are visible as lectors, ushers and of course our many extra-ordinary ministers of the Holy Eucharist. Be sure and check your mail this weekend for a brochure regarding the Archdiocesan Ministries that are available. This week starts our annual Stewardship Renewal program for the 2008/2009 campaign. This is the time of the year to seek further ways to serve the Lord and your church and our community. It is that time of the year when we begin searching for our Time Talent and Treasure. Our beloved Pastor will have more to say about all this in the coming weeks. Next Sunday there will be some of our own parishioners sharing there personal stories of their faith journey with us.

       As most of you know by now, I was raised here in Brownsburg and attended St. Malachy School a few decades ago. In listening to Father Dan and his many homilies, a few months ago he quoted and recited from the movie Pinocchio, and as I recall recited Twinkle Twinkle little Star. So I feel comfortable in stating that one of my favorite country singers is Merle Haggard, and one of my favorite songs that he sings is The Roots of my Raisin’ runs Deep. The song talks about returning to the home he grew up in and how his mom and dad raised him. This past week one of the many roots that were part of my growing up here passed away. Gene Knight had a long life of service to our church and his family. He was a former Scoutmaster of mine and many more men of this parish. He was a man of great influence in my younger days. Since I heard of his passing this past Wednesday, and I was able to assist as a Deacon at his funeral Mass.

       I came to reflect on the influences of many other men that had to have helped mold me into the man I am today standing before you These where men named: Gordon, Mike, Leo, James, Chuck, Don, Phil, Leroy, and of course Father Knoll. While all these men had wives beside them (with the exception of Father Knoll of course) the men I have named above and countless other ones were all part of the roots of our Parish, and consequently the roots of my raisin’. The women, most of them still around and active in our Parish today are to be credited with helping their men raise the rest of us from St. Malachy. As our community here continues to grow we need more and more people to sign up for the many and varied ministries, that are available.

       In Paul’s letter to the Philippians today, once again he is writing from prison and sharing his feelings and thanks to the church that has supported him through his ministry. As we know Paul did a lot of traveling and he firmly believed that his conversion included a call to preach the Christian message of salvation to all people, including the Gentiles. Mary Ann Getty an associate editor of the Catholic Study Bible writes this of Paul:

“Paul was born in Tarsus, a city on the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, in what is now known as Turkey, around A.D.10.He was a Roman citizen from birth, a status which carried certain privileges. He was, as is evident from his writings, well educated in the Greek language. He also had a good education as a Pharisee, that is, a Jew of strict observance. Paul was so zealous for the Jewish Law before his conversion that he persecuted those who, he believed, had strayed from the Law by believing that Jesus was the Christ. After experiencing a revelation from God, however, Paul (then named Saul) himself became a Christian around the year of A.D.34.To mark what he considered his totally new understanding he changed his name to Paul. He spent the rest of his life, about 30 years, in pursuit of the mission to preach the Christian message of salvation to all the people. After spending some time in retreat and study, he undertook three missionary journeys. During the last of these journeys he met with increasing opposition from some Jewish leaders and the Roman government, and was arrested and brought to Rome around A.D.60. Between A.D. 48 and A.D.62, Paul wrote letters to communities with which he had worked, answering their questions and preaching the Gospel. It seems that one of the privileges he had as a Roman citizen was the ability to write letters from there and to get them dispersed where he intended them to go.”

       As Pope Benedict has declared this a year of celebration of the Apostle Paul I felt it was important to give a little history of Paul. Much of the Christian vocabulary we have become so familiar with and associate with the ministry of Jesus actually originated with Paul. For example Paul was the first to come up with the Christian meaning for the words “apostle”, “gospel”, and many doctrinal phrases such as “justification by faith”. As the first Christian writer, Paul began to develop specifically Christian terminology, even though many of the terms he uses will have roots in Judaism, or other meanings in secular Greek.

       Paul is the first to speak about preaching the “gospel” although he does not conceive this as a narrative story about the life and ministry of Jesus. The idea of “gospel”, which appears even in the Old Testament as “glad tidings”, has come to mean “the good news”. For Paul this is the message of salvation now accessible to all through the faith in Jesus Christ. In Romans, Paul describes the gospel as “the power of God” to save all who believe. Thus Paul does not think of the gospel as a story of the events in Jesus’ life, nor even as a set of beliefs about a Jesus. Rather, the gospel is the “good news” that all who believe in Jesus are already saved.

       Mary Ann Getty continues to write:

“Paul encouraged the communities he addressed to read and reflect on his instructions when they gathered for the liturgy. The apostle’s authority was in his example. It became real when the community as a whole discerned Paul’s meaning and decided on the actions which they as believers should derive from Paul’s words. In his letters, Paul teaches, exhorts, encourages, and corrects. The communities reverenced his instructions, reading and preserving them. They circulated these letters, sharing them with other communities. In this way the letters themselves gained the authority of Christian scriptures. And the communities were increasingly strengthened, formed, and informed by a common tradition. From Paul’s writing, we can get a picture of how the early church operated, how it worshiped and governed itself, and how it grew.

       So in the spirit of Paul I hereby thank you for the opportunity to serve and to worship with each and every one of you, today and for many more years to come.

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