Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

“My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.”

The preceding verses appear in the second reading proclaimed this Sunday from the Letter to the Philippians. In it St. Paul recalls for them that throughout his ministry he has experienced abundance but has also endured scarcity. He expresses his heartfelt gratitude for the support he is receiving from that Christian community while acknowledging that, as the Lord Jesus himself pointed out to St. Martha, only one thing is necessary. Communion with Christ is the only thing that truly matters to him. He applies all of his God given talents to deepening his relationship with the Lord. That of course includes his ministry to the Gentiles, which is not about himself but about the proclamation of Christ crucified and Risen from the dead whom he has encountered. Because of that, he will tell the Corinthians, that he is willing to become all things to all persons so as to gain some for Christ. For him, leading others to an encounter with Christ is the logical result of his own personal encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus, a manifestation of the love of God in his life and his way of growing in communion with God. Having tasted the fine food and choice wines that the prophet Isaiah announces in the first reading, St. Paul desires to lead other to that feast as a way of enjoying even more what is offered to him.

Our Christian faith is based on a relationship of love with a person who is alive. From that relationship follows a certain outlook on the human person and practical consequences for our life. Every single dimension of our humanity is informed, formed and transformed by our relationship with Christ. As it happens in every other relationship, if we do not cultivate it, it languishes, withers and becomes stale.

Because our faith is a loving relationship, it involves the totality of our being including, of course, our intellect. That is why we Catholics have such a wealth of documents, treatises and theological works that endeavor to help us grow in our relationship with God.

Theology, as St. Anselm said, is faith seeking understanding, it is not cultural anthropology or sociology of religion but a systematic attempt of the intellect to penetrate the mystery of God using the powers of reason with the assistance of grace. It is not just idle speculation of a chattering class but a prodding of the mystery of God in an attempt to grow in communion with him. That is why, Pope Francis often repeats that theological work begins in a kneeling position. A theologian who does not pray will end up lost, thinking, for example, that Biblical studies are a branch of archeology and moral theology is purely a matter of culture and established tradition, something arbitrary. It is not a coincidence that the greatest theologians in the history of the Church were saints too.

These days we are celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is, perhaps, St. John Paul II’s most important legacy to the Church of the twenty-first century. As we know full well, the project was led by Cardinal Ratzinger, who would later become Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Schonborn, currently the Archbishop of Vienna in Austria, who was the general editor, whom Pope Francis often quotes and has publicly praised as one of the best theologians of our times.

Because of the importance of intellectual knowledge for the growth of our personal faith, I am happy to announce to you this week that our parish has subscribed to “Formed,” a portal that gives you access to audio books, videos, motion pictures and multi-media catechetical programs for all ages in English and Spanish that are meant to enrich our faith. It is an attempt to facilitate our growth in communion with God through learning about Him and about our beautiful Catholic faith with recourse to the technology available that enables us to access catechetical, inspirational and formative audiovisual content on the web.

All you have to do to have access to this treasure of catechetical and inspirational resources is visit www.formed.org, and register using an e-mail address and the code assigned to our parish, which is VGP8WF. The subscription the parish has purchased enables every parishioner to access all the resources in the portal free, at no cost to you.

It is my sincere hope that each and every parishioner will make the most of this initiative that we are launching today in an effort to help all of us gain a deeper understanding of our beautiful Catholic faith and be inspired to live it in our ordinary affairs bearing witness always and everywhere to the love of God manifested in our lives.

 

Fr. Roberto M. Cid