Third Sunday of Lent – Mar. 24, 2019
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it [he] found none.” We live in a results-driven society. It can be easy to put pressure on ourselves to succeed. If we’re not keeping up with the perceived “good life” of those around us, we feel anxious and disappointed. Some of the Gospel stories about fruitfulness can seem to play out in this fashion. “For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down.” The message seems to be clear. Abide in God and bear fruit! Stand apart from God and be barren. But what happens when we’re trying, but the growth we wanted doesn’t seem to be coming our way? What if it feels like life just isn’t bearing fruit? This Sunday, Jesus gives us a sign of hope. “[The gardener] said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also it may bear fruit in the future.” How quick we can be to judge! Perhaps you started out Lent with high hopes and big ideas for getting closer to God. Maybe things haven’t gone exactly like you thought. It can be easy to lose patience with our failures or slow growth. We shouldn’t be too quick to assume that God has given up on us. He hasn’t.The same ideas apply to those around us. Perhaps we’re the planter of the fig tree. We expect a certain amount of growth from someone in our life, and they just aren’t measuring up. Let today’s Gospel be a gentle nudge for mercy. As Lent continues to unfold, be patient with yourself and those around you. Wait for God to provide the growth.
With Fr. Michael away this past week, Fr. Jerry is writing this week.
When you read this, it will be two Lenten Fridays ago that Jesus told his disciples that unless their righteousness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees, they would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Then in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” Then Jesus gives three ways a person can express that anger and says that for each of these expressions of anger the person would be liable to judgment as well. But Jesus’ point is not that we should not use expressions like “you fool” in our anger. Rather, He is telling us that we must get rid of the sin of murder at its root, i.e., the anger that would cause harm to our neighbor not only in deed, by killing, but also even in word. No matter what the expression, it is the anger against the person that must be rooted out. If that is not done, no matter how much our external behavior resembles that of the Scribes and Pharisees, there is no reconciliation. But Jesus goes further. If at the very moment we are about to worship God we recall that our brother has something against us, we must leave our gift at the altar and go and seek reconciliation. Isn’t God more important than our neighbor? Indeed He is. But how can we love God whom we do not see, if we do not love our neighbor whom we do see. So Jesus, whom Matthew presents as the new Moses, calls for a higher standard than that of the Scribes and Pharisees. Not only must we not break the ten commandments, we must root out the anger at a person that causes us to do so. Before we seek reconciliation with God, we must seek reconciliation with our brother. We must match our offense to him with our confessing that we did it, we must match the sorrow we afflicted with our sorrow for having done so, and having perpetrated a harm against him, we must replace it with a good for him. This way of doing more than the Scribes and Pharisees, to become righteous, is what the Church expects of us when we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We must confess our sin—i.e., admit to its real evil; we must be sorry for it, i.e., realize the sorrow it has caused others, and we must seek to make amends. When we seek to do all three of these things: confession, contrition, and amendment, then the priest, acting in the power of Christ, does two things for us. He absolves us from sin and he gives us a penance. The penance is some act we do, to make amends. It can do so, because Christ and the members of His Church join our act with their acts so that the harm we have done is corrected in us and those harmed by us are healed. One more thing. What are we to do when we are angry at the one who has harmed us? Are we to forgive? Yes, we are to do that, but how? Not by saying we were not harmed and that we are not suffering from it. But by our praying for that person, so that person will actually do what the Church requires for absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When that person is ready to confess his wrong doing, when that person is truly sorry for the sorrow that person has given us and seeks to make amends for that, then, like the Church, we are to forgive, for then there is reconciliation: your harm, his confession; your sorrow, his sorrow; his resolve to make amends, your resolve to accept such amends. Since the Church acts this way, since Christ acts this way, and since you are a member of the Church and part of the body of Christ, you can and should act this way, too.
God’s special blessings to you. Fr. Jerry Bracken, C. P.
eGiving through Parish Giving!
Thanks so much to those parishioners who have signed up for “Enhanced Stewardship through Electronic Funds Transfer” for their financial donations. You schedule your offerings – it can be weekly, monthly, quarterly – whatever is best for your financial situation. There are no more envelopes to remember or last-minute check writing! Electronic giving is safe and easy for you and gives our parish steady financial assistance. If you wish to enroll just visit www.icchackensack.com and click on the Parish Giving logo. There are brochures in the back of church or visit Parish Giving at www.parishgiving.org.
SCRIPTURAL REFLECTIONS ON STEWARDSHIP
“He said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none.'” We can all be like the barren fig tree at times. Do you cling to what you have or do you generously share with others? How will you respond when God asks you what you have done with all the gifts He has given you? Remember, not only are we called to be generous, we are called to develop and nurture our gifts and return with increase.
PLEASE PRAY FOR THE SICK
That God will relieve their suffering and restore them to health. Please pray for: Kellie Salata, Kelly Chinchar, Jessica, Carol Mangino, Gloria, Daniel Breslin, Stanley, Bonnie, Helen Traina, Joseph Marrone, Bill Marshall, Anthony, Michael, Joseph, Christine Morrison, Jessica Esopo, Jack McShera, Theresa McPeak, Walter Eckel, Steve, Pat, Audra.
Sharing God’s Blessings Annual Appeal
This year our parish goal is $12,179. Our pledges to date are $3,045. Please be as generous as possible. Thanks you for any help you can provide. If you choose to donate online, please visit www.rcan.org/sharing.
Opportunities for Parish Support
There are several ways you can help support our parish and honor loved ones at the same time. As you may have noticed on the first Sunday of every month in our bulletin, we thank the donors of our Altar Gifts. You can donate the Bread & Wine, Altar Flowers or the Sanctuary Lamp in a two week block for $50 in someone’s memory. We have blocks open for this year.
We also have to purchase a new Easter candle each year (the tall candle on the altar) at a cost of $300-$400 which can also be donated in someone’s memory. You do not have to fund the entire amount, anything you wish to donate towards the purchase of our Easter candle is appreciated. If you wish to honor someone in any of these ways, please call the rectory.
SEPARATED/DIVORCED PARISH SUPPORT GROUPS ARE STARTHING THEIR SPRING SESSIONS!
“It’s true…there’s no such thing as “Catholic Divorce”…but millions of Catholics DO get civilly divorced. And it affects and hurts us all. Maybe you or someone you know has suffered the breakdown of the marriage and family, or maybe they are going through it right now. No matter how long it’s been, the Church IS HERE to help. The Archdiocese of Newark currently has 13 parishes who offer a support group for the separated/divorced and these groups will be starting during the next few months. For a list of these groups, please visit www.rcan.org/separateddivorced-support-groups or email or call Lauren.Egan@rcan.org 973-497-4327.
MASS INTENTIONS FOR THE WEEK
FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2019
8:30 Rosemarie Giotis by Maria Giotis
SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 2019
8:30 Justin Duffy by Marie Goodman & Family
5:00 pmAnnv. Pat Maglio by Bobbie Pizza
SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2019
8:00 Serafina Padula by her Sister
10:00 Gertrude Grabowski by the Family
12:00 Annv. Virginia & Sebastian Ruta by the Family
MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2019
8:30 Jean Dalessio by the Family
TUESDAY, MARCH 26, 2019
8:30 Antonio Fiorino by the Family
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2019
8:30 Michael Mariniello by the Traina Family
THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 2019
8:30 Annv. Antonia D’Alessio by the Family
FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 2019
8:30 Annv. Jerry D’Alessio by the Family
SATURDAY, MARCH 30, 2019
8:30 Annv. Anthony DeGrosa by the Family
5:00 pm Matilda & William Vasak by the Family
SUNDAY, MARCH 31, 2019
8:00 Annv. Catherine Napotina by Velona Napotina
10:00 Marie Godlesky by Mr. & Mrs. William Panagia
12:00 Annv. Josephine & Anthony LoPresti by Irma LoPresti