Father O’Connor’s Homily for October 5, 2014
Twenty-Seventh Ordinary Sunday – A
Respect Life Sunday
Weekend One: Introduction to Stewardship Renewal
This weekend is Respect Life Sunday when we thank God for the gift of human life, and re-commit ourselves to praying and working for greater protection and reverence for all human life – from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.
The Synod of Bishops is taking place in Rome right now until 19 October. Its subject is “the sacredness of the family and its beauty in God’s plan.” Pope Francis has asked us to pray for him and the bishops involved. And we will do so today in the Prayers of the Faithful.
We launch our first annual stewardship renewal activities today.
And I was invited to spend last week assisting a parish in the Diocese of Honolulu which is also preparing for their first annual stewardship renewal. In fact, the Commitment Sunday at Saint John Apostle and Evangelist Parish in Mililani, Hawaii is on 18-19 October – the same weekend as ours. I told the priests and people there that we will be praying for them and they promised to pray for us.
Now how, you might ask, am I going to tie all of this together? Like this.
At the end of today’s Gospel parable, Jesus quotes a line from Psalm 118: 22. He says: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.”
Jesus is teaching us that He is the stone that the builders rejected – who has become the cornerstone of the Church. Jesus is the cornerstone, and we are members of His Church.
As living members of His Church, we come to this church building in order to worship, and one of the parts of this church building, where I am right now, is called the sanctuary. Sanctuary comes from the Latin word Sanctus, which means “holy.” It is from that word that we get the word “saint.”
This area is called the sanctuary – with the altar and the pulpit and the chair – because the holiest of things happen right here. From this sanctuary, this holy place, we hear God’s Word addressed to us in the Scriptures. On this altar, in this holy place, the sacrifice of Calvary is made present for us during the Mass. From this altar we receive Jesus into our bodies in Holy Communion. We come to this sanctuary to become a sanctuary.
And from this sanctuary we are sent on mission at the end of Mass. “Go in peace.” And to do what? “Glorifying the Lord by your life.” And to “go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”Sanctuary – a holy place where all of God’s children are welcome and respected. Sanctuary – protection, safety, a refuge, a harbor.
In our own times, refugees and immigrants will sometimes seek sanctuary in the Church, lest they be sent back to a persecution, or be separated from their families.
However, of all of the sanctuaries, the most powerful, beautiful and natural of them all is a mother’s womb.
But ever since the Supreme Court Decision Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973, the sanctuary of a mother’s womb is no longer always a safe place for an unborn child.
Does this move you to want to do more? I hope so: to reclaim a mother’s womb as a safe place, as a sanctuary, for every unborn child.
The Synod of Bishops on the Family is all about the value of every human life and the sacredness and beauty of the family in God’s plan. It is about reverence and respect for every human life, no matter how old or young. In the Church we are a part of God’s family, and we all have a part to play.
This is the link with stewardship as a way of life. All that I have is a gift from God: my life, my time, my talents and my treasure. God wants me to receive these gifts from Him gratefully, to develop them with an increase, to share them generously, so that each person gives as they have been blessed and each person receives as they need.
Stewardship as a way of life is all about being even better disciples of Jesus each day by imitating Him “who came not to be served but to serve.”
And because He lives in us, we become a sanctuary for Him.
I hope that you have received in the mail a stewardship packet. It contains: (1) a letter from me; (2) an explanation of “Discipleship through Stewardship” in our parish – with a great photo of Saint Vincent de Paul from this stained glass window here in church; (3) a “Ministry Catalog” which describes each of the current ministries in our parish as well as a contact person; (4) and a “2014 Commitment Card” that enables each household to check off ministry involvements that they would like to renew or that they would like to join.
If your stewardship packet does not arrive this week, please let us know in the parish office because we want every household to have one.
This Monday evening at 7:00 PM, there will be a meeting of all our parish ministry leaders in Corrigan Hall.
Next weekend at all of the Masses I will offer a very short homily and it will be followed by a fellow parishioner who will speak about how they are implementing stewardship more fully in their personal lives.
Mrs. Maria Meeker, the principal of our Saint Vincent de Paul Parish School will speak at the 5:00 PM Mass on Saturday. Mr.
Bob Pacanovsky, our Stewardship Council chairperson, will speak on Sunday at the 8:30 and 11:00 AM Masses.
After Mass next weekend you are invited and encouraged to come to our Ministries Fair in Corrigan Hall. Our ministry leaders will be there to answer questions you might have after looking through our Ministry Catalog. There will be no sign-ups at the Ministry Fair, no pressure to join. Just a chance to find out more about ministries here in our parish.
There will also be games for our young people and food and fellowship for us all.
The following weekend, 18-19 October, is our first annual Commitment Sunday. You are asked to bring your commitment cards to Mass two weeks from now with your one-year commitments with your gifts of time, talent and treasure. And we will place them in the Offertory basket together.
All that I have is a gift from God: my life, my time, my talents and my treasure. God wants me to receive these gifts from Him gratefully, to develop them with an increase, to share them generously, so that each person gives as they have been blessed and each person receives as they need.
Stewardship as a way of life is all about becoming even better disciples of Jesus each day by imitating Him “who came not to be served but to serve.”
And because He lives in us, we become a sanctuary for Him.
There is a piece of music that is entitled very simply, “Sanctuary.” I will leave its chorus with you today:
“Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.
A sanctuary for you.”