Sunday November 5, 2017. ____ HOMILY___
Sunday 5 November 2017, 31st (A)
● Malachi 1:14b – 2:2b, 8-10 ● Psalm 131 ● 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13 ● + Matthew 23:1-12
[__01__] When I finished my seminary studies at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall in South Orange, I was advised by the Archbishop of my assignment to Our Lady of Lourdes.
This announcement took place at the seminary in the South Orange on the day before ordination. Conveniently, coincidentally, the director of personnel and parish assignments for the Archbishop at the time was also there. This was Father / Monsignor Joe Petrillo. He was also present at the seminary that day, waiting for me outside the office.
A few days later, I came to Lourdes to meet with Father Joe here in the rectory and also to meet with Father Jim Chern.
Both Father Joe and Father Jim – at that time and over the years – shared with me their what I would call both the INFORMATION and the IMAGINATION of their ministry here at Lourdes.
Certainly, there was INFORMATION for me to acquire, names, keys, how to cross the Eagle Rock Avenue intersection safely, and the 5 different navigation driving routes to St. Barnabas Hospital, involving Northfield Avenue, Pleasant Valley Way, and Main Street, et al. (footnote: “Petrillo-comma-Joseph” / Joe did not use GPS, Joe was GPS.).
Not only was there INFORMATION, there was also IMAGINATION.
This is the IMAGINATION expressed, for example, on the road to Emmaus by the 2 disciples by whom Jesus is not yet fully recognized as their walking and traveling companion.
After the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem, they only know that they have had an interesting traveling companion, on their 7-mile walking journey to Emmaus and at their Emmaus destination tell him, “Stay with us for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” (Luke 24:29)
These travelers have some INFORMATION about the faith, but they also have a great IMAGINATION and desire to learn more.
I am grateful for the start given to me in my ministry by Father Jim Chern, by Father Joe Petrillo, by Deacon Ernest Abad here at Lourdes and by all of you, both in INFORMATION /mind and IMAGINATION soul & spirit.
INFORMATION. Yes, we need this to live our faith, know our faith and teach our faith to others.
IMAGINATION. We also need this to recognize God’s presence not only in broad daylight and obvious situations but also when it is nearly evening, when we are in darkness … or when someone we love is in trouble or difficulty in our own soul and in the soul and spirit of others.
With this INFORMATION and IMAGINATION, we try to live lives of INTEGRITY.
And, on Founder’s Day, our 103rd anniversary of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, we give thanks for for those who helped to build our parish and give us the gift of faith and the church we know today.
[__02__] In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus turns the lamp of criticism on the Pharisees and they are, so to say, burned.
The Pharisees have INFORMATION. For this reason, Jesus says to his contemporaries and to us: “Do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.” (Matthew 23:3)
Or, in summary: “do as they say, not as they do.”
To love another person, then, we are called not only to gather information, but also to develop an imagination about the other person – body and soul.
Of course, I will never know completely what is in another person’s heart or soul or mind.
In fact, I may not know – perfectly – my own heart or soul or mind at times. I also will contradict myself.
Nevertheless, to love another person calls us to an imagination and understanding that there is an image of God in all of us, a goodness in all of us, that only the Holy Spirit knows completely.
To live a life of integrity, we are called to live with imagination.
[__03__] It was through both INFORMATION and IMAGINATION that this magnificent church was planned, constructed and that it continues today. The image still inspires.
[__04__] Integrity was also the gift bestowed and shared by all of our pastors and one which all of us, as priests, strive to emulate.
We are grateful to and remember today all of our Sisters of Charity who taught in our school, all of our school teachers here today over the years, our Principal Mrs. Mary Cassels who is also our Marnell Award honoree this year, our pastors and priests who including Father Gerald Marchand, our Pastor Emeritus, and Father Nicholas Figurelli whom we keep in our prayers.
We remember and pray for those who have served us faithfully and recently including Deacon Ernest Abad and Monsignor Joseph Petrillo.
[__05__] Sheltered and worshiping together – we are here because of 3 priests and their priests and Sisters of Charity and Lourdes people– by whom this church was built, first generations starting in 1914. They are Monsignor Nicholas Marnell, Monsignor Florence Mahoney and Monsignor John Lawlor.
Through their affection and effort and IMAGINATION, starting 1914, this site was selected, that Monsignor Marnell had the foresight to purchase six acres, that Monsignor Mahoney and Lawlor had the will to raise the money and organize the effort to build and pay for this church in its entirety.
And, as priests, they gave themselves up not only to the parish and to the church but also to their people and to us today.
[__06__] In the Book of Psalms, Psalm 84, w read of the joy of the person in God’s presence, whether in the Temple, the Church or anywhere at prayer expressed as … “One day within your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” (Psalm 84).
And this verse -- “One day within your courts ….” -- I testify also summarizes the enthusiasm and gratitude for many of us for our days past, days present, and days to come that we have known at Lourdes and our regard for the INTEGRITY is manifested in the…
· BRICK , typical of a strong house.
· MARBLE, classic of a beautiful sanctuary and altar.
· WOOD CEILING ARCHES – remind us the Californian-American forests from which they were taken.
To build such a structure here, in the 1960’s required not only INFORMATION but also IMAGINATION.
The Catholic Church in the 1960’s was experiencing Vatican II (Second Vatican Council) and there were many changes predicted for the nature of our worship.
Our brothers and sisters who knelt and worshipped in these pews and at this altar discerned well, giving us a church that not only preaches HISTORY and FAITH, but also PRACTICES ... and helps us to practice the faith.