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Monday Musing

The readings and the Gospel from yesterday, the 26th Sunday in Ordinary time gave me a lot to think about. I had been thinking about them since I first read them, a week ago. (I often look ahead to the next Sunday on Monday.)

If you are reading this blog, there is a better than average chance that you are, like me, a church-goer. We are here week in and week out and in many cases, day in and day out. I have attended daily mass regularly many times in my life; that’s kind of how I ended up with this job, but that’s another story.

You may not know this about me, but I also did not go to church for many years. 18 years to be exact. That too is another story, but let it suffice to say that I stopped going to church in 1972 and did not return until 1990. And my return was not a planned (by me anyway!) action. In fact, far from it.

So when I hear this Gospel I can’t help but see myself at another time in my life and I was most definitely the one saying no – no vineyard work for me! And yet, here I am.

The beauty of the parables is that they speak to us in mystery to reveal truth. So I said no and then I “showed up for work.” That does not make me better – anything but. It just means I realized that not only was the vineyard there, but that I was welcome.

In Ezekiel, we hear hear the first line about fairness. Did that make you think of last Sunday’s Gospel? It did that for me! In any case, none of it seems fair and we are always reminded that God’s ways are quite different than our ways.

Not only are things not fair, we are also reminded, very much so in the second reading, about the essence of who Jesus Christ is! God as man, man as God – very astounding material and more so for the Philippians who first heard St. Paul’s words!

In hearing those words we must also realize that St. Paul is asking us, from a very deep place it seems, to “complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.”

Jesus is humanity and divinity united and we are asked to be united and to be one in Him. This is no small task.

Today my prayer is to be at one with God’s people, to put others first, to serve and to do good. I pretty much start out each day, each week really, with such lofty goals.

Then I fall down.

What about you? Did anything in Sunday’s liturgy get your attention?

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5 Responses

  1. I think, for me, the thing that stands out most from this weekend’s Gospel message is a clear illustration about the difference between saying and doing….

    As a mother of a young daughter I have spent a lot of time pondering the expression “Do as I say and not as I do”. I clearly remember hearing that from adults in my life as I was growing up and I remember being very confused and thinking – if you don’t want me to do “x”, then why are you? I knew from the moment we conceived our daughter that I would work very hard to never say those words to her. I feel incredibly grateful that I have yet to utter these words to my little one…. not that I am perfect, not that I do not make mistakes or have struggles, (honestly, most of those times have not been in the presence or knowledge of my child so I haven’t had to address them).

    I wake up every morning and pray for strength and guidance to be an example for my own daughter and the countless teens that I encounter daily in my Ministry – to “Do as I Do”

    As I continue to minister to teens at our Parish, I realize the power that cliches can hold. Sure teens can easily identify a cliche and call you out on it. Like if I ever said “Do as I say and not as I do” to a teen, they would be like “yeah right”….

    But just as quickly can they see the power behind . What comes to mind is “actions speak louder than words”. I have worked hard to incorporate Service as a part of the Youth Ministries Program at our parish. I know and want teens to understand that, as a people of faith, we are called to be people of ACTION not just word. I think it is often in the hands-on work that our young people do that they learn the most about how to live a Christ-like life.

    I know for me, showing up (not just physically – but mentally, emotionally, prayerfully) to be an active and integral part of the lives of young people can be a daughting challenge but nine years later I know with all of my heart – that is my work in the vineyard.

    Thanks Fran – for offering us all a place to reflect, share and grow.

  2. Christine, you make so many good points in your comment and I am so grateful for what you have given us today.

    There is a whole riff we could spend time with that I would call the “ambiguity of leadership.” Which of course, in the context of our faith, directs us squarely to the kind of leader Jesus was (is) – a servant leader. That kind of leader says and does things with one accord.

    In any case, your final words about showing up in every way is so essential. This is a huge challenge, but it is the work in the vineyard indeed.

    Thank you.

  3. Jesus makes it clear here that he is talking to the Jewish leaders at the temple, with which he is greatly displeased. When we are feeling high and mighty and righteous about things we are unlikely to change. We think we are saying “yes”, but often we are not doing what is right. We are following without thinking. Our hearts are hardened. I know that when I say “no” to something at first, I often think about it later and change my mind. I don’t think that God wants us to say “no” to him often, but he does not want us to follow Him without thinking either. God’s law often becomes distorted by humans. We see this in the strict, rigid teachings of the Jews in Jesus’ day and we see it in the Catholic laws of the present day too.
    My husband and I have discussed this passage as it applies to our own lives in our home. He will often ask me to do something for him and I say say “no” and then do it anyway. He will often say “yes” to something I ask him to do and will often not do it (usually because he forgets….I don’t think it is out of malice). I always look at him and laugh when we have this reading on Sunday. I am feeling a little high and mighty! I know for sure that this is not what God wants of ME! The “no” must come through humility. We must realize that what we have done is wrong and change our hearts. God has chosen the lowly to raise up. He does that to show us that only through Him can we be great. I like to think of Jonah with this Gospel. He keeps saying “NO”. God keeps sending him back. Jonah doesn’t want to go and tell the people that they must repent. I know I would have said “no” too. I would have been scared, but through God, we can do great things. The whale might have to spit me out a few times on the shore, but eventually, I hope I will say “yes” and then do it! This is the true consecration of the Eucharist.

  4. I got to be the second reader this past weekend and couldn’t believe how beautiful and powerful Paul’s words were. When I hear scripture it can often move me deeply, but there’s just nothing like speaking it, slowly and reverently, trying to make images from the words so people can carry away a picture (or at least a well-known phrase or a new image from a never–quite-heard-before one). Thanks for asking. BRAVO on taking on this blog project. There’s nothing quite like talking/writing about faith to keep it deepening. That’s been happening for me since I started at St. B’s with the idea of “brushing up on my knowledge” – ha!

  5. […] other day I mentioned that I was not always a church-goer over at the blog that I am writing as part of my pastoral formation practicum, Pastoral Postings.  […]

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