Faith and Family is a weekly column by Lani Bogart, in which she provides practical ways to connect the Sunday readings, especially the Gospel, to the lives of families. Lani oversees all things catechetical at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and co-leads the Committee to Serve Wives and Widows of Deacons for the Diocese of Phoenix.
I recently attended the funeral Mass for a 17 -year-old youth who died suddenly and unexpectedly. His family grieved his death, but the celebration of his life also exemplified the truth St. Paul speaks of in today's reading. This young man of our community is not lost in death, but has "fallen asleep," so we do not grieve "like the rest, who have no hope."
It's been more than 2,000 years since Jesus ascended to Heaven, so it's easy to forget that Jesus, "with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven." A new existence for those who believe in Christ will begin. On a certain day within history, either at our own death or His glorious return, it will happen. Here is the question: Will we have lived wisely or foolishly? Will we be ready, as St. Paul writes, "to always be with the Lord"? Lord Jesus, someday I and my family will see Your face. Please keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for You.READ MORE
One day, when my children were small, I sat down to the piano and began to play and sing a prayer song, "I cast all my cares upon you . . ." Before I could finish the song, my youngest son interrupted me with a request for help. I blush with shame when I remember my exasperated response. "Can't you let me have just a few minutes without asking for something?" I soon realized if I had truly been casting my cares on God, I would have treasured the opportunity to help my child instead of counting him an obstacle to "my" time with God. When we love God in our families by embracing both the quiet moments and life's interruptions, we can say with the psalmist, "In You, LORD, I have found my peace."READ MORE
Jesus was not interested in rating the commandments for scholarly arguments. Instead he summarized them for; teaching us what they all have in common – love of God and love of neighbor. If we find ourselves caught up in arguments about this or that teaching of our faith, we may be avoiding the truth that loving God and neighbor is what it's all about. Elaborate arguments might make us feel smart, but they are a distraction from the hard work of putting God and others before our own selfish desires. Who can you share God's love with today? Instead of spending your time or money on yourself, spend it on someone else and pray for them.READ MORE
When people try to trick Jesus into saying something they can use against him, he calls them "hypocrites." Like a parent sees right through manipulative children trying to get what they want through leading questions or emotional arguments, Jesus sees what is in their hearts. Both the Pharisees and manipulative children fail to recognize the true authority of the one they are dealing with. What about us? Do we truly understand that we owe God everything? He sees all. We might as well surrender our futile efforts at control, our flimsy attempts at self-justification. Instead, let us resolve to let go of our petty schemes and "Give the Lord glory and honor."READ MORE
Today’s readings are about an invitation to communion with God and our response. Paul tells us that communion with God is possible here and now. He says he has “learned the secret” of not relying on his circumstances for contentment. What is the “secret”? It is that Jesus wants to be closely united with us in every moment of the day. When we know he is with us, we “can do all things in Him Who strengthens” us. Lord Jesus, please be my strength today. Remind me that my contentment is in you, even when circumstances change and new challenges come my way.READ MORE
In today’s Gospel the Owner of the Vineyard is God, the tenants represent religious leaders, and the Son they beat and killed is Jesus. How do we treat those God sends to work in the vineyard of his community? If we think of the Church as “ours” instead of “His” we might be tempted to chase out the workers he sends us. Take some time today to talk to your family about the specific ways you feel your family is called to serve. Listen to each other’s ideas of new ways to give. When we put our faith into practice it is sure to grow!READ MORE
In today’s Gospel Jesus describes a man’s two sons. The first one refuses to obey his father’s command to work in the family vineyard, but later he has a change of mind and does the work. The father gives the same command to the other son, who answers politely, “Yes, sir,” but then he never actually does the work. Jesus asks, “Which of these two did his father’s will?” We all know that words alone don’t count.
Next come these shocking words. “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of heaven before you.” He said this to men who prided themselves on being the spiritual leaders of God’s people! Tax collectors and prostitutes were sinners, the lowest of Jewish society. So, how would they be ahead of the religious leaders? Jesus knew that the men he spoke to talked the talk, but failed to obey from the heart. In their very public offices, they said “yes” to God, but in their actions, they said “no.” Lord Jesus, you know how often I talk a good talk, but fail to obey you from the heart. Help me change my ways.READ MORE