As Jesus journeys to Jerusalem, he offers in chapter 15 of St. Luke’s gospel three parables about losing things. First, he offers the parable about the shepherd who loses one of his 100 sheep and, extraordinarily, leaves the 99 to look for the one. Such is the desire of God to rescue us. The second parable is that of the lost coin and how the housewife searches extensively, and when she finds it, she celebrates. Again the excess seems disproportionate, but that is exactly the point of the parable. Thirdly, Jesus tells the beautiful parable of the two sons, the younger who wastes his inheritance, and the other who is unable to welcome his brother on his return home. There is a major difference between the first two parables and the third: the sheep and the coin have relative worth to the owner, but the young son has absolute worth to the Father.
The connection I see to the theme of journey in the last parable is the need in our lives of faith to ‘get over’ our pride and self-sufficiency, and to be in a new place of accepting our forgiveness and our dependence on God. The Father knows our absolute value, even if we seek to relativize it. What is needed is to cross the chasm between the old self to the new self. The younger son, having squandered his inheritance, is left caring for and feeding pigs. Then, Jesus says, he came to his senses. He faced his situation, and he decided to cross over from pride and his supposed independence, and to face his father with a humble apology. He is received with open arms.
The older son struggles with the fact his father has welcomed the young son home. He is bitter. He accuses his brother of immorality that is not mentioned by anyone else. He has seemingly been counting up all the things he has done for his father over the years and is wallowing in his need to be affirmed on his own terms. His father comes out to him and reassures him of his regard for him. But, by the time the parable ends, we don’t know if he follows the request of the father and crosses over from his old preoccupied self to one where he can enjoy the party of God’s mercy and begin to dance.
The teaching of Jesus is that the journey of faith requires us to become more like the Father; we have to cross over from being focused on ourselves to being immersed with his ways.
These days at Saint Joseph, we are reading St. Luke’s gospel using the key Journey Together to help us understand the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem. This Sunday, we are called to be aware of The Cost of Travel. Jesus teaches his apostles that there is a cost to following him. Those following him must carry their own cross.
As Jesus traveled to Jerusalem, he taught the people in the towns and villages. Being taught well and learning are essential for growth. We recognize this every September when schools, adult education programs and churches offer courses for people to learn and grow. At St. Joseph, some of the learning opportunities coming this month are:
Faith Formation programs for children begin Sunday and Monday, September 15th and 16th. We are still accepting registrations; you can register on our website. There are three programs being offered:
- Faith Formation Classes: The Sunday session is at the new time of 9:15 a.m., and the Monday session starts at 4:45 p.m. There is a new exciting trimester program on Monday’s for middle school age students.
- Faith and Family Formation: In this format, the entire family comes to the group sessions, the first of which is next Sunday.
- The Home Study Program: Here parents or guardians teach the topics to their children using the resources supplied and reviewed by the Faith Formation Team.
Formation for Confirmation begins today with a retreat at the Franciscan Friary, and a second group of teens have their retreat on September 22nd.
Sharing Christ begins on September 19th. This program is for all those who have completed the two preparatory programs: Discovering Christ and Following Christ.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) begins on September 15th for those who wish to enter the Catholic Church by means of either Baptism or Confirmation. We can also cater for older children who are not baptized and want to receive this sacrament.
Festival of Praise: While this may be less about the mind and more about prayer, it is a way to learn how to praise God and intercede for the missionary activity at St. Joseph. The first festival will be held on Friday, September 20th, at 7:00 p.m.
It is not too late to sign up for these events. If you are wondering about participating, it is best to visit our website at saintjoseph.cc or phone the parish office to find out more. Let’s Journey Together as a faith community and spend time and energy allowing Jesus to teach us about faith, hope and love.
The Journey Begins.
In Chapter 9 of his gospel, Saint Luke tells us: “When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.” The journey of Jesus isn’t that of a pilgrim who goes up to the Temple to fulfill his religious obligations. No, he is going to Jerusalem in obedience to the will of the Father. On his way, Jesus goes to the towns and villages ‘teaching’. Here at Saint Joseph Catholic Community, we will creatively use the theme Journey Together in the months ahead as an invitation for all of us, children and adults, to grow in following Jesus and allowing him to teach us.
Lighten Your Load for the Journey.
Experienced hikers realize they need to carry a minimum of clothes and accessories in their backpacks, so that essentials, such as water and basic foods, can be easily carried. If the pack is too heavy, the walker will move slowly and will hurt himself. The teaching in this Sunday’s gospel is: We need to lighten the load of ‘stuff’ we are carrying in our lives if we want to accompany Jesus on the journey to fulfill the will of the Father. If our lives are full of opinions we consider so important that only those who share them may travel alongside us; if what is essential to us is our job, career and how our resume looks; if we are proud about what are in fact gifts from God, then we have to lighten the load. It is necessary to be humble and shed some of these opinions, achievements and pride if we are going to be free to follow Jesus. As Jesus says, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Bring Along Humility.
To be a disciple, we need to have the ability to be free of baggage. The values we aspire to result, when we are invited to a party, in our taking the back seats, and when we throw a party, in our inviting the poor. Rather than lots of opinions, achievements and accomplishments being in our backpack, we take along humility – it is lighter and leaves us freer.