Dear Seton Family,
Is it possible to live the teachings of Jesus that we read and hear in Sunday’s Gospel? Jesus really went for it with his Sermon on the Plain—love the people who are hardest to love, pray for people you don’t like, give things away, don’t ask for them back, let people take things, don’t ask for them back, let people strike you, don’t strike back, don’t judge, don't condemn, be kind, forgive, and . . . do it all without expecting anything in return.
Is this possible? Or is it idealistic, unattainable, and unlivable? The cynical side of me asks these questions every time I come across this remarkable piece of preaching. But then I reflect back on my life, and I see things differently. People do live these radical teachings. I know because I’ve been on the receiving end of them.
There’s a flip side to today’s message from Jesus. For every disciple who hears and acts on Jesus’ words, for every person who pours them self out, for every believer who refuses to judge, hate, condemn, or “get even,” there is someone who is on the receiving end of that action, that outpouring, that self-control, that self-gift. The message of receiving is as radical as the message of giving.
Jesus is described in the Gospels as understanding human nature and knowing what was in the hearts of those around him (Mark 2:6-8; John 2:25). Jesus understood that the human heart can seem complex, but it really isn’t. Deep down it wants to give—to give to the point that it lets go, trusts, surrenders, depends on something greater than itself. Jesus does not ask us to do difficult things because he wants us to hurt or feel empty. It’s because he wants more for us. The human heart was made to give.
And the flip side—the human heart was made to receive. This reality may sometimes wound us even more than the giving. But it is a biblical reality. It is a sacred reality. But there is so much resistance—within ourselves, our families, our communities—we feel that we should be independent, we shouldn’t “be a bother,” we shouldn’t be burned out or broke or sinners. We try to keep track of the good that has been given to us; we want to repay the giver, even when what they give us is immaterial—like acceptance, forgiveness, encouragement, compassion, love, or time. But the preaching of Jesus tells us that we need not strive to even the playing field, to set the score back to zero-zero. In fact, he says we shouldn’t.
Let God do the repaying, Jesus urges us. It’s really better for the human heart that way. It isn’t easy, but we know it is right. It is the way of love. It is possible.
As I announced last Friday, I am speaking at all Masses this weekend, presenting the case statement for the Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries. This fundraising effort is one of the primary sources of support for the most basic works of the church, providing necessary funds for various works of Catholic Charities, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, tuition assistance for Catholic schools, and programming in a variety of ministries for children, youth, the elderly, and those with special needs. You have always been extraordinarily generous when it comes to charity and outreach in our parish but also for the Appeal. Please consider the Lord’s blessings in your own life as you are invited to make a contribution or a pledge here.
I’m happy to announce that the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner is back! Stay tuned for more details but mark Tuesday, March 1 on your calendars.
Lastly, the Parish Offices will be closed this Monday February 21 in observance of Presidents’ Day. We will not have morning Mass.
A reminder.... although the mask mandate has ended, we strongly encourage all parishioners to wear a mask inside our buildings and please use the hand sanitizers in the Narthex and when you enter the church at the Food Pantry entrance.
As usual, we will continue to live-stream Mass (Mon—Thurs at 9:00am and Sunday at 9:30am) on the parish Facebook (link) and uploaded on YouTube (link), and our parish website, https://www.seaseton.org/Resources/Media. If you do not have Facebook but wish to watch our livestream, click here for instructions.