August 20, 2017- Fr. Mike’s Letter
From the moment we manage to get our little bodies to stand erect, we encounter boundaries. Mom and Dad set up safety gates to keep us within a well-defined, safe space; they “childproof” cabinet doors and closets and electric outlets so we won’t hurt ourselves. Often their own hands and arms and legs serve as the boundary, stopping us from running off into the street or into unsafe waters.
Growing up is about learning to recognize and deal with boundaries: how to safely negotiate our way through potentially dangerous places and situations. We learn to recognize social boundaries that keep defined and understood relationships functioning as they should: we recognize the boundaries that govern our different relationships with employers and employees, with teachers and students, with professional associates and acquaintances, with customers and clients.
But sometimes we hide behind boundaries. We stay within safely artificial boundaries that we believe God has established. We settle within our comfort zones, sometimes mistakenly seeing them as correct and proper distances. Fear becomes a boundary that shields us from encountering people of different races and cultures and religions and nationalities– such boundaries become walls that isolate us from those we prefer to have nothing to do with.
And there are those boundaries we establish to preserve our own status, our own wealth, our own sense of ego and self-importance.
We feel safer, but over time we begin to sense in our souls that we are missing something in our lives as we live on the edge of such “boundaries.” Some boundaries enable us to function as a society and a community– but other boundaries, in fact, preserve dysfunction.
Without realizing it, even God becomes out-of-bounds in our lives.
Today’s Gospel is about crossing boundaries. First, Jesus travels through the region of Tyre and Sidon, a Gentile area considered “unclean” by the Jews. By crossing that boundary, Jesus manifests the love of God for all. A second boundary is crossed by the Canaanite woman, who dares to approach Jesus (something that just wasn’t done) and speaks up for her daughter and her own self-worth as a woman of God. Her boldness is an act of faith in the mercy of God that she recognizes in Jesus’ very presence; her faith results in the collapse of that boundary that unjustly and cruelly isolates her from the rest of society. The mercy of God enables us to break down boundaries and walls that paralyze us in dysfunction and estrangement. Pope Francis often speaks of reaching out to those on the boundaries or “peripheries,” to those who are driven to the margins and edges of society by poverty, violence and illness. Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman illuminates our own vision to recognize those divisions and chasms between us and others and to go to the peripheries and cross those boundaries that are obstacles to realizing God’s kingdom of justice and peace in this time and place of ours.
It has been two weeks since our summer festival and now we are getting back to normal. Except for the rain, we had a great festival. I want to thank all who volunteered in any way. Those who set up and tore down, those who cleaned up and cooked, all the booth captains and all of their hard workers. What an amazing job you all did with every aspect and dimension of our festival. All worked so hard and it showed. So many visitors said they just love coming to our festival. A special thank you to Bill Bancroft for his hard work and dedication to the Parish as he coordinated every part of the festival. Thanks to his family for their hard work every day leading up to the festival. A festival report will be given after all the bills and moneys have been paid and collected.
A special thank you to Joe Ditommaso for all of the hard work he has done in our Sacristy. He removed the ceiling and replaced it, making the room look new.
Let us keep all of our elementary and high school students in our prayers as our students will start returning to school and college. Good luck to our children and all those who teach.
On September 18, I invite all parish leaders, club officers and those who represent various ministries as well as all parishioners to a Strategic Planning Meeting held in the Church Hall at 6:00 p.m. We will get ideas to set the direction of our parish for the next 5 years.
Our Parish Picnic will be held September 24th at Chestnut Ridge Park. Mass will be celebrated at 12:00 p.m. followed by the picnic. A reminder there will be no mass celebrated at 11:00 a.m. in the Church. It will be held at the picnic grounds.
I have invited my friends from Cleveland Performing Arts Ministry to bring Tetelestai to our parish community this upcoming Lent, March 16,17 and 18, 2017. Tetelestai is a Greek word meaning “it is finished.” It is a contemporary musical Passion play about the last week in Jesus’ life. The ministry vividly portrays his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, his trial, execution and resurrection. Tetelestai is free and open to all. More information will follow in the weeks ahead.
Congratulations to Emily Granger & Tyler Duez, joined in the Sacrament of Matrimony. May God bless them with many years of health and happiness.
Congratulations to my niece and nephew as we celebrated the baptism of my great nephew, Jacob Thomas Margevicius, at the 11:00 a.m. Mass. May God bless him and his family
Have a great week,