Pope Francis and his “culture of care”: A homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

CPw2ZxXWgAA-gNi.jpg largeWhat a historic week it has been for our Church, for our country. It has been a week of firsts. First time in a good while since a pope has been here. First time that Pope Francis has come to the States. First time a pope has addressed a joint meeting of congress. First time the New York Post has changed its masthead….instead of New York Post, it read New York Pope. First time a saint was canonized on US soil. And it was the first time a Hispanic man or woman from the US was declared a saint. It was the first time for such a huge crowd in Philadelphia. It has been the first of a lot of things.

I watched him carefully. I’ve been thinking about how to summarize all he has said, and God sent one phrase from the pope’s speeches to me. It was early on, in his address to congress. He was talking about promoting what he calls a “culture of care.” It’s a phrase he has used before, in his encyclical. I guess if you are a pope you can quote yourself when speaking. It’s the same culture Jesus advocates for in the Gospel today, when he blesses anyone who should provide even a cup of water to another. I want us to consider this morning four things the pope repeatedly emphasized that we should care a great deal about as Catholics. We’ll use CARE as an acronym. C=Church. A=Afflicted. R=Relatives. E=Environment.

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God likes to shake stuff up

A neat first reading today. Here’s the part I like most: “For thus says the LORD of hosts: One moment yet, a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will come in, And I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.” God shakes stuff up. He confounds our expectations, our understandings of him–just as he does in the Gospel. He loves to shake up our lives, our world. We don’t always like the shakes, at first, but he shakes us into more faithful discipleship!  I think this is such a big piece of why Pope Francis is so awesome: he shakes stuff up. May we be open to what he says.

Pope Francis: “[May] our vocations continue to build up the great edifice of God’s Kingdom in this country”

The Pope’s address to the clergy and religious at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC is too good not to share here…

“There is a cause for rejoicing here”, although “you may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials” (1 Pet 1:6). These words of the Apostle remind us of something essential. Our vocation is to be lived in joy.

This beautiful Cathedral of Saint Patrick, built up over many years through the sacrifices of many men and women, can serve as a symbol of the work of generations of American priests and religious, and lay faithful who helped build up the Church in the United States. In the field of education alone, how many priests and religious in this country played a central role, assisting parents in handing on to their children the food that nourishes them for life! Many did so at the cost of extraordinary sacrifice and with heroic charity. I think for example of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, who founded the first free Catholic school for girls in America, or Saint John Neumann, the founder of the first system of Catholic education in the United States.

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“Siempre adelante!”

Serra-Stamp-240x240From the first ever canonization on US soil…

Today we remember one of those witnesses who testified to the joy of the Gospel in these lands, Father Junípero Serra. He was the embodiment of “a Church which goes forth”, a Church which sets out to bring everywhere the reconciling tenderness of God. Junípero Serra left his native land and its way of life. He was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life. He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters. Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it. Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people.

Father Serra had a motto which inspired his life and work, a saying he lived his life by: siempre adelante! Keep moving forward! For him, this was the way to continue experiencing the joy of the Gospel, to keep his heart from growing numb, from being anesthetized. He kept moving forward, because the Lord was waiting. He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were waiting. He kept going forward to the end of his life. Today, like him, may we be able to say: Forward! Let’s keep moving forward!

Three things from the motu proprio

The Archdiocesan Tribunal highlights these three items from the Holy Father’s motu proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, on the reform of canonical procedure for the annulment of marriage in the Code of Canon Law:

  1. There is no longer a mandatory appeal of affirmative cases, which means 2-3 months have been taken off the length of time for formal cases;
  2. We are now competent to hear cases when the marriage took place in another country or when the respondent lives in another country provided the petitioner lives in our Archdiocese;
  3. The Holy Father has announced a new process which is simplified and is for those cases “where the nullity of marriage is supported by arguments that are particularly evident.” This is a procedure that works alongside the formal cases and does not replace the formal process.

As of now there is not an English translation of the MP, but soon I’m sure there will be

God is not a magician

Enjoyed this writeup about Pope Francis’ recent words to a plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:

The “Big Bang” and evolution are not only consistent with biblical teachings, Pope Francis told a Vatican gathering – they are essential to understanding God.

“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything — but that is not so,” the pope told a plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

“He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment,” Pope Francis said.

The earth’s origins were not chaotic, the pontiff said, but were created from a principle of love, reported Religion News Service.

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