20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

AN INVITATION TO ENCOUNTER

by Fr. Chris Valka, CSB

For the past couple of Sundays, we have been learning about the purpose of things:  prayer, activity and even faith itself.  This week, our attention shifts to the immediate consequences of getting the purpose right.

Jesus uses some rather harsh words this weekend:  “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”  Not exactly what you would expect from the “Prince of Peace”. . . .

However, we have all heard dozens of quotes that speak to the necessity of difficulty before goodness.  No Pain, No Gain; There is no rainbow without the rain; you don’t get diamonds without time and pressure; and so on and so forth.

Anyone who lives their life according to the Gospel is bound to cause discomfort and division with some people in their lives (though we must be careful not to use this as an excuse to cause trouble!)

Thus, we aim for peace and unity, but we should not be surprised if there is division and combat along the way.  Our challenge is not to lose sight of the goal, which brings me to our lives as they are connected to St. Basil’s.

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed a common theme in my conversations about the Parish:  St. Basil’s as a place of encounter.  In these spaces, we encounter God, and other people we would rarely encounter otherwise.  This is a place wHere people can come together – if we want it to be.

Over the past two weeks, I have started hosting a few potluck dinners for couples soon to be married, new parishioners and eventually all of the ministry groups in the parish.  These dinners started because I was thinking about Jesus – a man who was very good at bringing very different people together.  As we know, he often did this over a meal.

But here’s the thing:  he had no real home for entertaining others and no money with which he could purchase food.  So I asked myself how he did all this table ministry?  Then it occurred to me:  he lived in a potluck culture!

So consider this an invitation to extend an invitation to someone else.  If you want to bring people together, let me know and we can use the parish hall.  If you want to host a few friends for dinner, let me know and I will gladly attend.  After all, this is how the Church was built – around a meal with people who desired to know God more.  Such meals are ministry, because they will help us to come together more deeply around the Eucharistic meal each and every Sunday.

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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

BECOMING GOOD STEWARDS OF OUR GIFTS

By Fr. Chris Valka, CSB

One of the questions I frequently ask myself is, “I am being a good steward of that which I have been given?”  Lately, this question has also framed many of my discussions with various ministry and administrative leaders at St. Basil’s and St. Michael’s.

This week, our Gospel asks a similar question:  What are we storing?  Are our treasures things that are important to God or for ourselves?

Like most of us, I find I try to fill voids or needs in my own life with something new.  Whether it be something found at a store, or some sort of new idea, or a new aspect of my life – new fills the void much easier than used.  Of course, the problem is that new becomes used and then the cycle begins. . .

But do we really need more new things, or do we just need to reimagine what we already have?  Our Gospel would suggest that God prefers this approach rather going after something new, because this re-imagination is more like restoration – remembering a history and connecting it to a present.  Quite frankly, I think we like new because it is easy, but it often fails to connect to our soul.

You might imagine I am now longer writing about our own person, but who we are as a parish.  Many people have spoken to me about the people who aren’t coming to church in hopes that I might have some sort of new solution.  While I love the question, I believe it is secondary to a more important question:  what about the people who are already here?  Do they find what they are looking for?  What about the things we already have?  Can these things be reimagined to address the needs of today?

I have been amazed at how many people walk into to St. Basil’s – literally thousands – every week.  As I try to meet everyone, I am frequently asking if they find what they are looking for in this place.  Many are looking for silence, others connection with God or other people; still others instruction.

However, I have also found that many do not, but they keep coming in hopes that one day they will find what they are looking for.

So where does this leave us as a community?  Where does it leave you, the reader?  In short, the question of others coming (or not coming) to church is answered in ourselves.  If others find us fulfilled with what we have, using well the gifts we have been given – they will come and stay.  So we start there.

May the Lord bless us with eyes and minds to see what we have been looking at for years, with new a new vision and new creativity.  And may the Lord give us the courage to use the treasures we already have in a manner that brings us, and others, closer to God.