Peace and all good! In today’s Gospel, Jesus presents his teaching on divorce and remarriage. And remember that the issue is not the divorce alone; it is remarriage that is at the heart of the issue. When the Pharisees remind Jesus that Moses permitted divorce, Jesus responds that Moses allowed it because of the “hardness of their hearts.” He goes back to the Book of Genesis in which marriage is really two people becoming one flesh. Through the ages and especially in modern times, the Church has had to face this issue with mercy and compassion. We know that many of these relationships should end and few of us doubt it. Annulment is one way the Church has found to say: these two lives did not come together for a holy purpose to begin with, in the way Jesus speaks of or the teaching of the Church intends! And by the way, if a Catholic is divorced and not remarried, they can and should receive Holy Communion. If Catholics remarry, they should consult one of the parish priests to talk about their situation. In a spirit of compassion and mercy, Pope Francis has clarified the process for a church annulment so that it is not as arduous as you may think.
Today is Respect Life Sunday. This day emphasizes the “seamless garment” of life which must be protected from conception until natural death. Our respect for life includes many issues that as Christians we are called to champion: opposition to genocide, murder, euthanasia, mutilation, as well as abortion and assisted suicide. These are all life issues. As Catholics, let us pray for respect and the cherishing of all human life. This weekend we begin our annual celebration of Stewardship: “The Joy of Generosity.” And it really is a joy to be generous! We bring joy to those who receive gifts from a generous heart and we ourselves are filled with joy that God has granted us the opportunity to share whatever we have.
This weekend our Stewardship focus is on the compassion we offer to others. I invite you to visit the booths outside Mass and speak to our generous parishioners who are involved in the Ministries of Compassion: Visiting the Sick, Social Outreach, Bereavement and Grief Ministries, and Intercessory Prayer. It is my hope that more of us will hear and answer the call to serve those most in need. Pray and be open to the promptings of the Spirit.
In closing, I wish to thank everyone who made our celebration of the Feast of St. Francis such a wonderful event! In particular, we give special thanks to the Art and Environment Committee for the beautiful décor, the Hospitality Committee for the delicious reception, to the Mission for the lovely Transitus reception, and our choirs for inspiring music! To all of you and to those in attendance, you are appreciated. St. Francis, pray for us!