Fr. Daniel Gifford
Hospitality In Bethany and In Princeton
From the moment that Jesus set out on this journey to Jerusalem, which comprises the section of the Gospel of Luke we are currently reading in our Sunday Lectionary, He knew what awaited Him there. He knew that He was going to His death. Much of the journey deals with the readiness to face this ultimate sacrifice for the love of the Father and the salvation of our souls. As the opposition against Him grows and His awareness of His fate continues to be apparent, it gives greater weight to an otherwise more casual
reading, such as this weekend’s reading. That house in Bethany where the three siblings, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, lived was a place of solace for Him, along the journey toward His death upon the cross. It was a place where He could be at rest and at peace among friends. It might cause our minds to return to that theme, which keeps coming up in this Liturgical Year, of the place of Safe Refuge. This theme first came up when we first received our Saint Michael statue (front cover) into our sanctuary. The place of safe refuge in the desert was the place to which the woman, who stands both for Mary and for all of us as her children, goes to find solace, peace and rest, as Michael fights the battle for us. How often in life do we have to entrust the battles that often seem to confront us to the Lord, while we learn to seek refuge in Him?! May our Saint Michael statue always be a reminder to us that we can entrust these things to Him, especially with the help of the intercession of this angelic guardian of the whole People of God. As we entrust these things to Him, we can strive with the help of His grace, flowing from our prayer, to make our parish, as well as homes and social circles, places of safe refuge, where all who enter may find the freedom to cast their cares on Christ who cares for us. When we consider how Mary, Martha, and Lazarus made of their home a place of safe refuge for Our Lord, we can learn a few things about hospitality. At other points in the Gospels, we see the role of Lazarus in witnessing to the beautiful mystery of new life in Christ. After he was risen from the dead, people followed the disciples to that home in Bethany, not only to hear from Christ, but also to witness the miracle worked for Lazarus. In humility, Lazarus received these guests and allowed them to wonder at the good thing Christ had done for him, in order that they too might come to know Him! Meanwhile, we see two necessary aspects of hospitality in his sisters, as Martha exemplifies the service that is to be given to one’s guest, while Mary reminds us of the need for personal attention and genuine presence. Service is indeed needed, in order to show fitting hospitality, but as Martha learns the hard way, it is all the more necessary to be genuinely present to your guests, giving them the gift of your attention. May we follow Mary’s example, by being present, attentive and aware of those around us, especially at Mass, to whom we ought to show our hospitality. Especially in the summer, it is not uncommon to have visitors and extended family with us. Recently, I had a visitor share with me after Mass that she perceived, “This must be a very vibrant parish!” Naturally, this made me very pleased, as it is a sign of the Holy Spirit at work, resulting in a parish coming fully alive! May all of our guests encounter Christ in our liturgies and in the members of the Body, as parishioners welcome them warmly!
ADULT DISCIPLESHIP EVENT AT TOTUS TUUS POTLUCK: Naturally, since Mary’s actions exemplify, not only attentive hospitality toward our guests, but also attention to the Lord in prayer, we are going to have an opportunity this week to recall this necessary link between prayer and hospitality. Our Totus Tuus Potluck is this Wednesday evening at 5pm. As I have said, it is not simply for the children and their parents, but a moment of fellowship and renewal for the whole parish. All are welcome and encouraged to join us. Please come and visit with old friends, as well as perhaps making new ones (always an important part of hospitality). After dinner, as the youth go on to their evening session, all adults are welcome to join us in the Saint Jerome Room, for a relaxed, but formative Adult Discipleship Event. We will focus on prayer this year, by watching the episode “The Fire of His Love: Prayer and the Life of the Spirit,” from Bishop Robert Barron’s Catholicism series.
TOTUS TUUS & TOTUS TOTS: Of course, this week is also a time of spiritual growth, fun and fellowship for our children as well. I am very excited about another week of Totus Tuus here at Saint Louis Parish, as well as the first year of Totus Tots! For Totus Tuus, we are excited to welcome Jack, Kristine, Mary Margaret, and Sam to our parish, who will lead our children and youth in their program for this summer, as they discuss the Sacraments and the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, which help us to better appreciate the ultimate revelation of God’s love for us on the cross! I am also grateful to Mary Jo Gustafson, Donna Milliron, and Rita Tracey for their leadership in our first ever Totus Tots program, which will bring these same truths to an even more introductory level, through an engaging and fun extension of Totus Tuus for our youngest children! Finally, thanks again to Caylee Kennedy for her work as our parish coordinator for Totus Tuus, as well as Lydia Mead and Carrie Jaeger, who have been working closely with assisting her in various capacities.