Week of June 21, 2015

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Brigeete Kurtenbach has accepted the position of youth minister for our parish. Brigeete and her husband Erik are members of Holy Spirit Parish. She has been coordinating our high school youth program and is looking forward to having time to develop that program. She will also be working with our middle school aged youth. She will begin the first of July.

Next weekend, June 27th & 28th, Fr. Sunoj Thomas, OSB will be making an appeal to us for the missionary effort of his community. Make your checks payable to Holy Spirit Parish. Since Fr. Thomas will be covering masses I plan to take some time and meet friends at their place on the lake. I will be back for mass Monday morning. After mass Monday I will be traveling to St. Louis for the Association of United States Catholic Priests Assembly. One of the keynote speakers at the assembly will be Fr. Greg Boyle who wrote Tattoos on the Heart.

Below is an excerpt from Sr. Mary McGlone’s reflection on today’s readings in Celebration.

Kurt Vonnegut is quoted as saying, “People say there are no atheists in foxholes. A lot of people think this is a good argument against atheism. Personally, I think this is a good argument against foxholes.” That thought might offer a good start for us as we meditate on the question of a good God and suffering, an underlying theme of today’s readings.

What was going on in Job’s life was a tragedy. He was an upright, faithful man who felt blessed with great fortune. Then the devil bet against his goodness, wagering that Job’s faith would prove unequal to the loss of the good life. As Job’s circumstances got progressively worse, “friendly theologians” tried to help him assume the blame for the evil that befell him. Certain that they understood the ways of God, they kept reminding him that good is rewarded and evil brings punishment, so it was time for him to repent. Job would have nothing of it. He knew he didn’t deserve his misfortune, so he called on God to justify the turn of events.

The disciples onboard the rocking boat with Jesus had a belief system similar to that of Job and his so-called friends: Jesus should have been their safety net. Thus, the storm’s increasing hostility was matched by their growing fear and frustration with an unresponsive Jesus. Where was God when everything was going wrong? Both of these readings pose that question to realign our faith. Job’s God doesn’t stoop to the level of the theologians by defending divine justice in human terms. Jesus, fully awake to all that is happening, ignores the disciples’ accusation that he doesn’t care about them, and after overpowering the storm, he questions their lack of faith.

The questionable faith depicted in both of these readings rests on the assumption that God’s duty is to provide health and wealth to everyone who deserves it. That theology is very handy for the fortunate few of our world; it plays the double role of affirming the idea that their well-being is proof of their worthiness, while simultaneously getting them off the hook of responsibility for the masses of people who suffer.

In his Letters and Papers from Prison Bonhoeffer suggests that while need can bring people to their knees, Christian faith leads people beyond self-concern to recognize and respond to God’s presence in everyone in need.

Today’s readings invite us to evaluate our faith, asking not what it promises us, but to what it impels us.

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