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Just a Thought or Two . . .

September 25, 2013

Autumn Days Challenge Us to Change

        We see the multicolored leaves dot the landscape.  The days are shorter and cooler mornings greet us as we are heading out to work and school.  Mother Nature gently nudges us and says, “Be ready, change is in the air.

Autumn is the season of change – that transitional time between the sweltering days of summer and the frozen reality of winter nights.  Leaves, now streaked with color, gently float to the waiting soil.  The earth has important lessons to teach us.  Autumn speaks to change.  Too often we get only half the message.  We get the outside communiqué – new scenery, different clothes, food, and activities.  But what about the “inside” of autumn?  What about the autumn that says, “Change your hearts?”  What about the autumn that says, “Let go?”

It is no accident that Sunday’s Scripture readings speak to change.  Amos, the prophet of social justice, wrote at a time when the rich were getting richer while the poor grew poorer.  The First Reading tells of merchants who can’t wait for the new moon and the celebration of the Sabbath to be over.  Instead of taking the opportunity to worship and sacrifice during these holy times, these merchants mark the time until business can be conducted once again.  Priorities are not in order.  Amos warns his listeners that God will not forget their greedy hearts.

The words of Amos speak to modern people too.  Are we ready to make autumn “Inside changes” and honestly look at goals and lifestyles?  Day after day we fill our lives with more things.  Malls and the Internet have become centers of the community.  Households have twice as much as fifty years ago.  The percentage of Americans describing themselves as “very happy” has declined every year since 1956.  Somehow through the years, we’ve confused standard of living with quality of life.  We’re surrounded by electronic devices and modern time-saving conveniences.  Why don’t we have more time?  Why do we experience stress?  Because we have so many things to maintain.

St. Luke’s Gospel tells how Jesus told the parable of the rich man to the Pharisees who loved money.  “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and linen and feasted splendidly every day.  At his gate lay a beggar named Lazarus who was covered with sores.”

Jesus tells how when Lazarus died, he was carried by the angels and was embraced by Abraham.  The rich man died too and from the land of torment saw Lazarus and Abraham afar off.  He called out asking for pity but Abraham replied, “My child, remember when you were well off in your lifetime, while Lazarus was in misery.  Now he has found consolation and you have found torment.”

It is interesting to note that the rich man was not pictured as mean or unjust.  No, the rich man was just preoccupied with clothes, food, and living a grand lifestyle.  His sin wasn’t in his wealth but in his inability to comprehend that others needed him to share his resources.  Too late he realized the error of his ways.

Autumn is a time of second chances.  Letting go of the behaviors that create spiritual chaos is our autumn calling.  Money is a tool.  If the tool paves the way to our heavenly home, it is a tool worth keeping.  It is forces us to claim behaviors that keep us chained to the race for more possessions, our autumn world shouts, echoing the Scripture message, “Simply let go!”

At our liturgy today, the All Saints faith community celebrated the feast of St. Vincent de Paul.  St Vincent de Paul was born in France over 400 years ago to a family of peasant farmers.  St. Vincent de Paul was well known for his humility, zeal, mercy and self-sacrifice.  St. Vincent de Paul was also known for his wisdom and holiness.  He preached the Gospel to the poor and promoted the honor of the priesthood.

St. Vincent de Paul is the patron saint of all charitable organizations.  He founded the Congregation of the Mission.  He wanted to end poverty by changing the hearts of all who listened to him.  In 1833, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was established to help the poor.  Today the Society of St. Vincent de Paul can be found in 132 countries.

All Saints Parish has a St. Vincent de Paul Society where men and women grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to those in need.  They want to help those in need while respecting the dignity of all they serve.

We are currently having a food drive at All Saints Catholic School.  All the food will be donated to the St. Vincent de Paul pantry where it will be handed out to our neighbors in need.  This week may we generously donate the canned fruit, tuna, and soup as requested.  May our families remember in prayer all the members of the St. Vincent de Paul and the people they serve.  May we understand and celebrate that service to others is a privilege.

St. Vincent de Paul lived the words of Jesus – “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers or sisters, that you do unto me.”  During these days of autumn may we follow his loving example.

Next Wednesday, October 2, the All Saints faith community will celebrate the feast of Our Guardian Angels.  The 6th grade will host the liturgy at 1:05 in All Saints Catholic Church.  Please come and pray with us.