<TW>Weekend of 06 and 07 September 2008

.=:  T H I S    W E E K E N D  :=.
     from Father Pat Umberger
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B A C K    T O    S C H O O L

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that may be done in Church and another you can use as a family before your
kids leave for School on the first day, and every day if you'd like!  Just
follow the link from:  www.frpat.com

P I L G R I M A G E    2 0 0 8

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*** All but FOUR seats we're holding from La Crosse have already been taken.
More are leaving from other airports.
Use the on-line brochure now at www.frpat.com 
__________________________________________________


.=:  V O L U M E   2 0 0 8 , Number 09-07 :=.

.=:  T H I S   W E E K E N D ' S   S C R I P T U R E S  :=.

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A.
Weekend of 06 and 07 September 2008

"If I tell the wicked, "O wicked one, you shall surely die," and you do not
speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his
guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death."  When do we fail to
dissuade the wicked?  Do we sometimes give tacit approval by our silence?

"But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses
to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save
yourself."  But what if we lose a friend in this process?  

"If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts."  What could God say
that could make us want to harden our hearts and close our ears?  Is God's
voice and call always clear-cut?

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no evil to the
neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law. When have we been
reminded of our own wrongdoing by those who love us very much?  Is that
loving neighbor as self? 
 
Jesus said to his disciples: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell
him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won
over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with
you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three
witnesses.'  When others wrong us why is it so difficult to go to them and
try to build peace?  Why is it so much easier to tell everybody else about
it?  If we were to seek the counsel of witnesses, who might they be?

If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen
even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax
collector.  How would we involve the church?  How would we treat someone as
a "Gentile or a tax collector?"

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the
midst of them."  Why is there more strength in the gathering of two or
three?  Can we truly be one with the Lord if we isolate ourselves from
others?

How are these readings challenging?  Comforting?

.=:  S P I R I T U A L   R E F L E C T I O N   :=.

Somebody says or does something that hurts us.  How do we react to that?
It's very tempting to begin to feel sorry for ourselves.  Before long our
self-pity needs to be expressed.  We begin to tell others about the issue as
well.  We become dismayed when that doesn't make us feel better.  We can
continue to harbor our resentment for a long time.

In today's Gospel we're called to go to those who hurt us, to keep the fault
between the two of us.  If we muster the courage to do that we'll often find
that no offense was meant.  Reconciliation can quickly happen and we can
feel at peace almost immediately.  Sometimes though, it's not so simple.
There doesn't seem to be an openness on the other side to consider the harm
that was one.  The other person might not regret their words or actions at
all.  

Then we're called to involve another.  That might be a mutual friend.
It might be someone who has expertise in the area where we have been hurt.
Our insistence on understanding and reconciliation can move the heart of the
one who did the hurting.  Sometimes that's all it takes to bring about the
reconciliation we'd like so much to have.

Other times, that's not enough either.  Then our Gospel tells us to involve
the church.  We might go to our pastor, pastoral minister or another
minister in our community.  They might have some good advice for us.  If
they don't, they might be able to refer us to someone who could be more
helpful.  Perhaps that will be enough.

If not, we're called to treat the one who hurt us as a Gentile or a tax
collector.  God doesn't want us to be a door mat.  We can protect ourselves
from greater harm by detaching ourselves from the person causing the harm.
We can continue to pray for them.  We can wish them the very best.  Still,
there are times when it is best not to spend a lot of time with them.

That's how we're called to deal with hurt and conflict.  In this weekend's
first reading we hear of our responsibility to speak with others about their
wrongdoing.  When we don't do so, we're guilty as well.  If we do our best
to help them resolve the issue and it doesn't work, then we can become more
detached knowing that only their guilt remains.  We've done our part.

This week we can take a look at the people in our lives we have harmed, and
those who have harmed us.  We can strive to make peace.  We can follow the
tested wisdom this weekend's scriptures.  As we hear in today's Psalm, "If
today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts."

Our faith calls us to action.  Our action can make a wonderful opportunity
to go to work in our lives and in the lives of those who have harmed us.
May we not miss any opportunity we might be given to bring someone closer to
God and reconciliation.  As we hear in today's Gospel, "Where two or three
are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them."  God can
be with us to bring about miracles. 

Let's be ready to get involved.  Have a good week!

(c)MMVIII Fr. Pat Umberger.  This Spiritual Reflection is found each week at
the Web Site www.frpat.com. Feel free to link to this page or reproduce them
for parish use as long as this credit remains.


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<TW>This Weekend is free, and comes from:
Father Pat Umberger, a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse
in Wisconsin U.S.A.
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  • » <TW>Weekend of 06 and 07 September 2008