Sunday Scriptures

Doing God’s Work Together Under His Command

by Father John P. Cush

Sunday, July 7

In today’s Gospel, taken from the Evangelist Luke, we read of the commissioning of the disciples by the Lord.

We see that the Lord does something a little bit unusual and perhaps for our modern standards, a bit inefficient! He sends his disciples out two-by-two.

Why would the Lord do this? With all the ground that He has to cover, with all the souls that need to hear the message of the Kingdom of God, why wouldn’t He just send them out one-by-one? As one homilist once put years ago: “If these disciples can survive each other, they can survive anything the world, the flesh and the devil can throw at them!”

Yes, it is true that, at times, we can be our own worst enemies! How can we, all of whom are different and have radically different ideas and styles and ways of going about things, look beyond ourselves and pull it together so that the Church can grow? The first lesson to learn is that it’s not about us; it’s never about us; it’s all about the Lord and how best we can serve him with our very lives.

This is an important lesson for all of us to remember when it comes to the nature of collegiality and cooperation on the parochial level, on the diocesan level and on the interdiocesan level. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter where the souls, minds and hearts of the faithful are being formed and fed and who is doing the ministry; all that matters is that the souls, minds and hearts of the faithful are formed and fed.

On the parish level, how many of us have seen dedicated parishioners grow upset when one organization assists in accomplishing something for the parish that is traditionally “theirs?” When newer faces come to help and some of the long-time helpers in these various areas seem threatened, are we able to be like Christ and to reassure them that “whoever is not against us is for us?”

On the diocesan level, are we who are involved in the various ministries and apostolates in our own local parishes open and willing to collaborate with our neighboring parishes for the good of our people? If one of our local parishes is able to offer something that our resources, facility or staff can’t, do we actively encourage it and promote it to our people? Or do we just start up our own version of it?

On the interdiocesan level, isn’t the Sacred Heart Institute, located at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, L.I., a perfect example of cooperation among the bishops, priests and deacons of downstate New York? By pooling the tremendous energy, talent and faith present among all of us who share in the Lord’s gift of Holy Orders, we can be assured of the continuing message of the Lord Jesus to be spread to all our people.

May we have the courage and peace of mind to realize that we’re not the center, we’re not the stars; it’s all about the Lord and His work! Praise God for the gift of this insight of deep humility.
Fr. Cush is a doctoral student in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy. This summer, he is assigned as an assistant at Immaculate Heart of Mary, Windsor Terrace.[hr]

 

Sunday, July 14

One of the most interesting aspects of doing doctoral studies is that you can really focus on the writings of one or two thinkers and really try to grasp the big picture behind the thought of that writer.

I had always been interested in the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, and I’ve had the opportunity to study his thought in much greater depth this past academic year. Far from being obscure and irrelevant, Aquinas has proven to me that his is a perennial thought, one that can relate to us in so many different aspects of our lives today.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Thomas Aquinas’ thought is the concept of natural law. In Summa Theologiae I-II qq. 90-106, Thomas describes natural law as the rational creature’s participation in the eternal law.

Natural law is simply, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1954: “Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie: The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin … But this command of human reason would not have the force of law if it were not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be submitted.”

Doesn’t that sound a great deal like the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy? In this passage from the 30th chapter of the book, we read of Moses urging the people of Israel to follow the laws and commandments of the Lord. Read again how Moses describes this law to his people:

“For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”

What is Moses basically saying? The Law of the Lord is not that hard to understand; it’s kind of built into us. St. Thomas Aquinas’ basic moral axiom: “Do good, avoid evil” is a pretty understandable, pretty basic thing. As I used to tell my students at Cathedral Prep: “There’s a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do and there is a pretty clear difference most of the time.”

It starts with the love that God is in Himself and proceeds with us trying to live that love shown to us out in lives of goodness to all whom we encounter. In the Gospel that we proclaim today, taken from the Evangelist Luke, we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan. We are reminded to “do the right thing” for each other.

Our human nature is fallen, but we are still in the image and likeness of God. We can never forget our original goodness and the law of God that is inside our hearts. May we never forget to “do the right thing.”

 

Readings for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Deuteronomy 30:10-14

Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37

Or Psalm 19:8, 9, 10 11

Colossians 1:15-20

Luke 10:25-37

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