“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” With these words in today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples about true greatness. This teaching appropriately complements the teaching of the Apostle James the Less in today’s Second Reading: “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.” We Christians are to be Christ-like in setting aside selfishness for the good of others. The good of the Church and, indeed, of all of humanity depends on selflessness and a disregard for worldly gain at the expense of others.
The value that Saint James upholds in today’s Second Reading is “righteousness,” which is the “fruit of peace.” The ability to make peace is a manifestation of “wisdom from above.” This is wisdom that comes from God. It is not an earthbound way of thinking, but it is God-like: “pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.” Recall that in last Sunday’s Gospel Peter was rebuked by Jesus for “thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” It would seem that all the disciples were thinking in this way in today’s Gospel. They were interested in status rather than righteousness. Instead Jesus takes a child—a person with no social status—and identifies himself with the child. Indeed Jesus’ earthly life will end as a person with no legal status, a criminal.
There could not have been a nicer day for threshing than this year’s Labor Day. I was happy that so many people came down from our two parishes, including Father Hokamp. The crowd was a bit smaller this year and I heard from a number of regulars about last-minute conflicts that meant they couldn’t attend. The oats themselves were lightweight, which caused the only problem—they would not trip the weigher soon enough, so that caused a plug-up. Once we got that cleaned out and adjusted the weight, the rest of the day went off without a hitch. We ended up with 150 bushels of oats by volume and a nice load of straw. Thanks to all who came and helped, and to all who just enjoyed watching. There are some pictures on the St. Charles Facebook page.
This third Sunday of September is Catechetical Sunday. We are blessing and commissioning the catechists from both parishes at the 10:30 Mass. Thanks to all who take up this vital ministry of helping our young people to understand and appreciate better the mysteries of our faith. In doing so they are helping parents who have the primary responsibility of raising their children in the practice of the faith. Parents are reminded of this in the rite of baptism when they present their children for baptism. The practice of the faith begins in the home; it is nurtured by family prayer and participation in the sacraments, especially Sunday Mass and regular confession; and it is fostered by formal instruction in the Catholic school or religious education program.
Father Bernard Olszewski will be visiting our parishes next weekend to speak at all the Masses on behalf of Cross Catholic Outreach, which was founded to create a meaningful link between parishes in America and the priests and nuns working in the Church overseas in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Central and South America. I will be away, attending the annual meeting and investiture of the North Central Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in Cincinnati. I along with Mary and Jerry Kuehl are members. Our mission is to uphold the Christians and Christian shrines in the Holy Land by prayer and financial support.
Pray the rosary this week for our catechists who teach religion in our Catholic schools or religious education programs. Pray for the young people whose religious formation is nurtured in these programs. Pray for the people affected or displaced by devastating storms, floods and wildfires; for Afghan refugees and those left facing the reality of living under a brutal regime; for people serving in the armed forces from our community; and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.