Reflections from the Shrine ...
IN THE FACE OF INJUSTICE, LIKE JESUS OUR CORNERSTONE, WE
NEED PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE
The tragedy of what happened in Las Vegas this past week is very difficult to comprehend. So many innocent people killed and wounded calls us to cry out: "How could this have happened in our Country?" But sadly we must admit as Americans our Country is often more apt to choose violence to solve problems rather than compassion. There are so many signs of evidence that this is true. There is the example of our many wars over the years, our gun culture that encourages ownership of far more guns in the United States than in any other country, and our ongoing struggle with prejudice and racism in so many parts of our Country.
"Where is God in all of this?" can be a very good question to raise. However the God we adore is not only a God of compassion but also of justice. One of our recent popes said: "If you want peace, you must work for justice." If there were more justice and equality in our society and in our world, there would be less violence and greed.
In today's parable of the vineyard, the landowner is very patient and persevering with the tenants that he puts in charge of his vineyard. He sends several servants to obtain his produce. The tenants treat the servants badly, even killing several of them. In a profound act of love, the landowner: "sent his son to them, thinking, they will respect my son." But when even the son is killed, Jesus quoting Scripture, says something so surprising and disarming: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes."
Like the landowner who plays the part of God, we too are called to work in the Lord's vineyard, striving to overcome injustice and arrogance with patience and perseverance. It is extremely difficult work but we do not work alone. Jesus is with us, as our cornerstone, to give us a strong foundation with the aid of the Sacraments, the Holy Spirit, and the example of the community around us.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is an excellent teacher and model in this task that must continue throughout our whole lives. Such is the power of grace, God's love, and our love and respect for one another. Indeed: "It is wonderful in our eyes."
Father John Sullivan M.S.
AT LASALETTE ACCOMPANIES US, ENCOURAGING US DAILY, TO DRAW CLOSER TO HER SON
The past few weeks have given us several examples of not only how important is the gift of our faith in God, but also how much we need to depend on one another. That helps us come through the very difficult moments that are part of the lives of each one of us.
The fierce rain storms and hurricanes in Texas and Florida as well as the tragic violence that occurred this past week at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital challenge many of us to slow down and ask: "Where is God in all of this?"
The message of Our Lady of La Salette can be such a good response to that question. That is because it shows that God is very close to us in those storms and events that seem to have no logical explanation. Through the tears of Mary, she displays God's own compassion for us, His forgiveness, calling us to "Come near, my children, do not be afraid. I am here to tell you great news."
But that requires constant transformation from doing our will to trying our best to do God's will; from not focusing only on the darkness but rather being aware of the light of love all around us, in God, and in our own families, friends and neighbors, as well as the splendor of nature's beauty.
The readings for the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette give us so much to reflect upon so that we can better understand the plan of God and our purpose in life. The Gospel shows us how Jesus instructs his own beloved mother to be with us, even as he himself is dying on the cross. He expresses it so simply, "Woman, there is your son." And to John, his beloved disciple, "There is your mother."
The reflection from the book of Genesis reminds us that God has an eternal covenant, like a marriage bond, between Him "and all living beings - all mortal creatures that are on the earth." Through Saint Paul, God gives us the timeless challenge: "that he has entrusted the message of reconciliation to us. This makes us ambassadors for Christ, God as it were appealing through us….."
So let us obey Mary with our whole being, to convey to others around us, by words and especially by our example: "Now, my children, you will please make this known to all my people."
We will have the last session on "Love in the Family" this coming Tuesday evening in the cafeteria from 6:00 to 7:30 PM. All are invited to participate. On Saturday September 30th, we will have a blessing of animals at 10:00 AM by the statue of Saint Joseph behind the cafeteria. This will be in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron of animals, as well as Pope Francis' Encyclical: "Caring for Our Common Home." Please bring your pets that transmit so much joy to our lives.
Father John Sullivan M.S.
THE WORK OF RECONCILIATION IS NOT JUST PERSONAL BUT COMMUNAL AS WELL
In this month of September when we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette, we have a powerful example of reconciliation, which is the main message of her Apparition, in today's Gospel. In the opening lines, Jesus instructs us: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone." Do not do it in public. That could humiliate him, but do it in private, and not in judgment, in love, with hopes that he will respond and listen.
The whole process of correction is done in such a spirit of love and patience. It is a process. If the person will not listen, we are told to go to the second level, to ask the help of two or three witnesses so that together, the three or four of you can give "testimony" of the person's error. Like any process of correcting another, this is difficult, and it can only be done, I repeat, in a spirit of love and truth.
It is surprising the depth of love that Jesus shows in this instruction. He goes to a third level if the person continues to not listen - to the Church or the whole community. This clearly demonstrates that a person that is disruptive in the Church can effect not just another person but the entire community. It is the responsibility of the whole community then, to respond, in love.
I recall how I painfully learned from my own experience at our Shrine in Attleboro, Massachusetts to be loving to my community and not judging. It was a situation of a member of the community who had special needs - for professional help. In my self-righteousness, I thought we could handle it if only we gave the person enough of our help and attention. I was mistaken and had nor respected the opinion of the Community. It took me some time to listen and discover the best solution to a difficult situation.
The La Salette Cross that is so much at the heart of the message of Our Lady reminds us that it is easier to grab the hammer in judgment of others instead of the pliers, to remove our hard nails of self-righteousness or indifference. Our Lady's tears remind us that compassion is at the heart of any solution.
We are also encouraged by the closing lines of today's Gospel. Our Lord is always present with us, whether we are alone or in the company of others. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
For our Shrine announcements, we have a second collection this weekend for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Also do not forget our triduum for the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette. Friday and Saturday, Mass and procession beginning at 6:30 PM. Sunday Mass and devotions begin at 11:00 AM. Today, September 10th, during the hospitality session after Mass, we will present information on the theme of our La Salette Laity program .
Father John Sullivan M.S.