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My dear Parish Family,

Last week we began a new Message Series on “Home Life.” We will be dwelling on how to improve our family life together. Most of us are spending more time at home so it is a valuable and worthy undertaking. We will also seek to shed light on and explore the relationships between our other homes: our parish home and our permanent home, with God in heaven. We kicked off the series by drawing some parallels between our worship together as a parish family and our family life at home. We dug into Mass as Mercy, Meditation and Meal, and the essentials of Family: Forgive, Focus and Feast. These pairs go together in order to foster a more joyful, peaceful and wholesome life at home.

This week, our question is, “How can our family be more dedicated to Christ?” Over the past two weeks the wisdom of Saint Paul reminds two different early Catholic communities that our primary relationship is with Christ. Last week, he challenged, “For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” In other words, the most important thing is not life or death, but belonging to Christ Jesus! This week, Paul exclaims: “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” Paul trains his whole existence to focus on giving greater honor and glory to God. He does not care, even if he lives or dies, so long as Christ is known and loved, and the kingdom of God blossoms in the hearts of believers. How might we take that passion, that focus and zeal, and apply it to our family life?

Saint Ignatius of Loyola chose a motto for his community, the Society of Jesus (known as the Jesuits). He asked a central question: Does this give glory to God? He trained his men to make each decision for the greater honor and glory of God. The phrase he used was: ad majorem Dei gloriam, for the greater glory of God, in English. The motto serves as a razor to cut away what may not belong to the Lord and a magnifying glass to bring into focus what does give God the glory. Could we not as families use the same motto in our lives together: does X give honor and glory to God? Does this type of music honor the Lord? Does this habit give glory to God? Is this way of doing things in accord with the Gospel? The motto provides a clarity hard to match. The question acts as a sieve, straining out what does not belong. Some folks are in the custom of placing the letter AMDG, on top of letters or notes, with a cross. This action serves to focus whomever would gaze upon them on the central question. May everything we do give glory and honor to God!

The Gospel today is an exercise in contrasts. On the one hand we have the landowner who seeks to hire workers not once or twice in the morning but five times throughout the day! How generous he is with his time. I am sure he has better things to do. He is on the lookout for those who are idle. He proves himself to be even more magnanimous (great-hearted or big-spirited) when he chooses to pay the usual daily wage even to those who have only worked an hour. He understands that the day laborer who does not work, will go to bed hungry, as will his wife and children. On the other hand, we have two groups of workers: those who have been idle in the marketplace; and those who have worked all day, but prove to be envious. Idleness, we might call it laziness or sloth, and envy or score-keeping. Both of these groups exhibit behavior that is the opposite of magnanimity. Instead they are petty, selfish, half-hearted. They show themselves to be small of heart.

This week, may we pray to be large of heart, to be big-spirited. Let’s look for opportunities to exercise the generosity of heart, and to be more and more dedicated to Christ. Paul’s heart is set firmly on the Lord. May we follow his holy example.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Wilson

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