The Marriage and Family Life Office works to promote healthy, happy, and holy family life.  We support parishes in the areas of marriage preparation, marriage enrichment; natural family planning; grief support for all ages; troubled marriage support and more. The office also assists lay Catholic organizations and apostolates in their work related to families and parishes.  This is a member office of the Office of the Domestic Church and Discipleship.

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Blog: Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

March 4, 2020 - 3:20pm
Megan Marley
The Good News:
God’s Word in Everyday Living

Deacon Scott McKellar

In this Sunday’s readings we celebrate Jesus’ Transfiguration. “After six days” Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain, and he is transfigured before them.

It is likely that the “six days” and “high mountain” echoes, for Mathew, the events in Exodus 24:15–16. In this passage “Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain” and “the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days.” On the seventh day Moses heard the voice of God speaking. In Matthew the mountain is frequently a place of revelation (cf. 4:8; 5:1; 8:1; 14:23; 15:29; 28:16).

In the previous chapter, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” While popular perceptions were clearly wrong, Peter rightly confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God (16:16).

Jesus says that Peter’s confession revealed to him by the heavenly Father (16:17). Now on the mountain the hidden truth about Jesus becomes visible. Jesus is ‘transformed’ (Greek metamorphoō) and “his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” In Exodus 34: 29, 30, and 35 Moses face also shone after being in the presence of God.

Jesus is a type of New Moses, but he is greater than Moses. In Jesus case, the shining of his face is not reflected glory but the true presence of God the Son (Hebrews 1:3). Suddenly Moses and Elijah appear and begin to converse with Jesus. Do they represent the law and the prophets? It is also possible to see them as heralds of the Messiah sent to reveal his presence.

All of this sets the stage for the most important event, a bright cloud covers them, and a voice calls out, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (17:5) These are the same words that the heavenly voice speaks earlier at Jesus’ baptism by John (3:17), but here the voice adds “listen to him.” These final words echo Deuteronomy 18:15. Moses prophesied in this verse that, in the future, a prophet like Moses would come to the people. Moses demanded that the Israelites “listen carefully” to that messianic figure.

What do these words of the Father spoken from the cloud teach us? As the Fathers of Second Vatican Council remind us;

“God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (see Eph. 1:9)” so that we might “come to share in the divine nature (see Eph. 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4)” (Dei Verbum 2).
The hidden and invisible God has chosen to reveal himself “out of the abundance of His love” and to call us friends (John 15:14-15) . . . so that “He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself” (DV 2).

Jesus is the fullness of revelation, the Word made flesh. In the secret inner life of the Godhead, Jesus is the Son. But through communion with him (Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27) we also become sons and daughters of God and “partakers in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

As St. Paul writes to the Galatians; “As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6). Again St. Paul reminds us, “you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:15-16).

This is a seismic shift in thinking. No longer do we have merely the artifact alone, the law and the prophets written in a book, but now we have the Word made flesh. As the writer to the Hebrews puts it, “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Jesus transfiguration is a revelation of his true nature and an invitation to share in the intimacy of God’s own family as sons and daughters of God. We enter into communion with him through Baptism and the reception of the Eucharist. But as the Fathers of Second Vatican Council have pointed out, to experience this communion we must offer the “obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:26; see 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) . . . “an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals” (DV 5).

Yet this is not an individualistic faith, a “me and Jesus” alone faith. We are called to be a son or daughter in a family of faith. Our relationship with God is mediated through Jesus as he is reflected in the life of those who have embraced this faith. Just as the light of God’s grace shone in the face of Moses now the light of Jesus shines in the faces of men and women who have made this fundamental commitment to say ‘yes’ to Jesus.

For Christians, fellowship is much more than coffee and doughnuts! It is an invitation to a community which mediates faith is all its fullness. It is a call to action, an invitation to divine intimacy, and a memory of a shared life a as family. The hidden and invisible God now shines forth inviting us with God’s own initiative.

God’s own ‘Yes’ to us precedes his invitation. As St. Paul reminds us, “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It is the Spirit of God who draws us to the heart of the Father. A St. Paul reminds us the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

The season of Lent is the perfect time to renew our commitment to a deeper relationship with God. Imagine what would happen if each one of us took time for silence and prayer this week. Have we been attentive to the light of Christ reflected in the faces of the saints? Have we accepted our Father’s loving embrace through the lives of our faith community?

Deacon Scott McKellar is Pastoral Associate at St. Therese Parish, North.

For this Sunday’s scripture readings and readings throughout the year, visit the USCCB website.

The post This is my beloved Son appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

February 21, 2020 - 6:52pm
Megan Marley
The Good News:
God’s Word in Everyday Living
Marc Cardaronella

This week’s gospel, Matthew 5:38-48, contains a difficult teaching. It’s the last verse in this reading, Matthew 5:48, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” How is it possible to be as perfect as God? He is perfection itself to the infinite degree!

When I first came back to the Church, I struggled with this. I figured Jesus was just being metaphorical and didn’t mean it literally. However, was that the case? The Saints and spiritual masters saw it differently. Can we be as perfect as God? That’s what this article will explore.

In my studies at Franciscan University, I got a lot of exposure to the Saints. I read books written by saints as source material. I read about saints. I read books that referenced saints. I was kind of new to Catholicism at that point. I had come back to the Catholic Faith after a 20-year absence so, while I was an adult, I was still a baby-Christian. So often the saints expressed such ardor and love for God. They were single-minded and devoted, especially when speaking about the Eucharist. For my part, I just couldn’t relate. I believed what they were saying was real for them. I just wasn’t feeling it myself.

In my own spiritual life, it just wasn’t happening. I didn’t have these overwhelming feelings of love in the presence of the Eucharist. I didn’t desire to give myself completely to God without reserve. Some saints like Maximilian Kolbe spoke of being a slave to God…completely and wholly at the service of his will. That was a bit much for me. I concluded that saints were special, God’s favorites. Somehow, they just got more, and that’s why they were so ardent. The Saints were at one level and the rest of us were at another. God set the bar at unattainable levels, that only a few could reach.

But then something changed. I read about theologians from centuries past who ran afoul of the Church. Their theological ponderings pushed the boundaries of acceptability. They rationalized the faith, made it more believable and humanly attainable. They reduced the miraculous and unimaginable truth to something more tangible, more real, less “out there.” They lowered the bar. And, when they did, the Church denounced them. That’s when I realized the bar must stay high. It can’t change, no matter how impossible it may seem, because once you lower it a little, you can lower it a lot. What one person deems reasonable, is too high for another. So, so they lower it again. Soon there isn’t a bar at all. Great, right? Now everyone can be holy! Except, in reality no one can be holy. All that potential for growth is left on the table. No one will experience it because they didn’t know it existed.

That’s what the Protestant reformer/revolutionaries did. They removed sacraments, saints, mysticism, ontological transformation of the soul through grace, and the differing levels of holiness. It wasn’t Martin Luther’s experience, so he figured it wasn’t real. He announced those things didn’t exist. Everyone is the same in the spiritual life. No favorites! No one really changes! Egalitarian Christianity. Then, other reformers came along and reduced his teachings even further. A woman once told me she experienced a kind of glass ceiling in her Protestant faith. After a while, there was nothing left to learn, nowhere to grow spiritually. They just talked about the same things. But Catholicism opened a whole new world. There was depth. The example and teachings of saints like Teresa of Avila introduced a growth potential she never even imagined.

Here’s the truth. Christian living is not natural, it’s super-natural. Living Christianity to its fullness is humanly impossible…that’s why we need grace. The Saints, as impossible as their lives may seem, are proof that radical holiness is possible. Don’t wish away the heights of the spiritual life just because you haven’t experienced them…yet.

Strictly speaking, can we be as perfect as God? Obviously not. There’s an infinite distance between us and God. Jesus is setting the bar in this passage, and every Christian must strive to meet it. Is it impossibly high? Maybe, but that’s exactly how it should be. There’s always more, so your work is never done. Honestly, wouldn’t it be boring if there was a limit and you’d already had everything there was?

A clarification is needed here. The perfection we’re called to in this passage isn’t God’s power and wisdom. It refers to love and mercy. How much are you called to give? Well, how much did Jesus give? The answer is everything he had. Following his example, we’re called to love enemies, pray for persecutors, and love without reward. Jesus calls everyone to holiness. It’s an imperative, not a suggestion.

We must understand the role of grace in this. Even imperfect levels of perfection are impossible without God’s help. Christian life is not about willpower or strength of character. It’s about being infused with God’s Spirit to the point of becoming like him. Sharing God’s life has soul-altering properties. We’re continually changed by the working of grace to become more and more like Christ—acting, judging, living, and loving like him. That is the perfection we seek. It’s different for everyone. But through that perfection, in small ways, we begin to change the world. In God’s time, when this is lived by every Christian, it will have a leavening effect on the wider society. Do your part and you’ll see.

Marc Cardaronella is Director of the Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation.

For this Sunday’s scripture readings and readings throughout the year, visit the USCCB website.

The post Don’t Lower the Bar appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

February 11, 2020 - 7:00am
Megan Marley

From the USCCB Website… 

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, all Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.

For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.

If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.

More information on fast and abstinence can be found below.

For members of the Latin Catholic Church within the United States, please see the USCCB’s Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence and the complementary norm to canon 1253.

Code of Canon Law (cc. 1249-1253)

Questions and Answers About Lent

The post Lenten Fast & Abstinence appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

January 27, 2020 - 12:21pm
Megan Marley
The Good News:
God’s Word in Everyday Living
Marc Cardaronella

If I ranked Scripture passages by most confusing, this week’s gospel, Matthew 4:12-23, would probably be near the top of my list. Who are Zebulun and Naphtali? Why have they seen a great light? Why is that important? Why does Jesus moving to Capernaum fulfill this prophecy from Isaiah?

This is a case where the first reading is essential for understanding the Gospel. The key verse from the first reading is Isaiah 9:1, “In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.”

So, what’s going on here? Zebulun and Naphtali are two of the 12 tribes of Israel. As you probably know, God renamed Jacob to Israel, and the descendants of Jacob’s 12 sons became the 12 tribes that formed the nation of Israel. Zebulun was the son of Jacob by his wife Leah, and Naphtali was Jacob’s son by Bilhah, his wife Rachel’s handmaid. If you don’t know that story, you really should look it up. When the tribes came into the Promised Land after leaving Egypt, Joshua assigned territories to each of them. The tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali received land just east of the Sea of Galilee, an area known as the Way of the Sea. It was valuable land because it provided the best route between the two great economies of the day, Assyria and Egypt. Whoever controlled it also controlled trade in the region, so it was hotly contested.

Eventually, Israel became a kingdom with all 12 tribes united David. However, after his son Solomon’s reign, the 10 northern tribes split from the two in the south. They formed their own kingdom and called themselves Israel. The two tribes in the south became the Kingdom of Judah. It gets complicated because the 12 tribes together were the Kingdom of Israel before the split. However, after the split only the north was Israel…and they weren’t Jews. Only people from Judah, who remained faithful to God and practiced Judaism (Judah-ism), were Jews. Israel worshipped local pagan gods like Ba’al and Molech. This split was a big deal. God’s people were divided and many rejected God’s covenant. As well, prophecies said the Davidic king would rule over the combined 12 tribes of Israel forever. After the split, he only ruled over two. It became a major theme with prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel that one day the Messiah would unite the 12 tribes again and rule over all of Israel, not just Judah. This may sound simple enough, however in Isaiah’s time no one thought it possible.

A short time before, Assyria launched a series of invasions that began in the territories of Zebulun and Naphtali. Within a few years, the whole northern kingdom was conquered, deported, and scattered across the known world. Not only that, the Assyrians forcibly settled other people on Israel’s land. Even if they did want to come back, they didn’t have a home. Over the years, with no connection to their people and no hope of return, Israelites from the 10 northern tribes assimilated into the local populations. They were essentially lost. Nevertheless, the prophets spoke of an impossibility…a re-unification. The Messiah would unite all of Israel, north and south, under one rule and one worship. How could this be? You couldn’t even find anyone identifiable as Israelites anymore much less get them together.

Here’s where Jesus enters the picture. When John the Baptist is imprisoned, Jesus begins his public ministry. He establishes a home base at Capernaum, which not coincidentally is located at the intersection of Zebulun and Naphtali’s old territories. Then, the first thing he does is proclaim the Kingdom of God. The first reading Isaiah says, “In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali” (Isaiah 9:1). He’s talking about the defeat and deportation of the northern kingdom that began there. However, he foresees something else coming, a reason for hope. “In the latter time,” Isaiah says, “he [God] will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations” (Isaiah 9:1). Matthew sees this is the “latter time.” Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy because Zebulun and Naphtali are the first to experience the restoration of Israel – the New Israel. Jesus begins right where it started to fall apart. How will he do that? As the New David, he will bring the entire world under his reign in the Church, the Kingdom of God. The 10 tribes are lost, spread to the four winds. Even they don’t know who they are. But the Church is worldwide, universal…katholikos in Greek, or “catholic.” It spans the globe. The tribes of Israel are lost to the world, so Jesus will restore the 12 tribes by incorporating the whole world into the New Covenant.

The brokenness of the tribes of Israel represents the brokenness of humanity. Everyone should be united in relationship and union with God. Everyone should recognize Jesus as Lord and share in his kingship. But many don’t know him. Some even reject him. They are scattered and lost, without a spiritual home or lineage. They’re assimilated into the world and its way of thinking. They may not even be aware of the life they’re meant to have or the true homeland where they belong. God doesn’t want families separated or people exiled from their home. It’s our job to continue Jesus’ mission of reconciliation and restoration. We must share the message with those who don’t yet know it or have yet to accept it. We must shine a light of hope into the “deep darkness” of the lost and tell them they have a home!

Marc Cardaronella is Director of the Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation.

For this Sunday’s scripture readings and readings throughout the year, visit the USCCB website.

The post Restoration appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

January 10, 2020 - 10:14am
Megan Marley
The Good News:
God’s Word in Everyday Living

Deacon Scott McKellar

The season of Advent is a time of preparation to make our hearts ready for an encounter with the flesh and blood humanity of Jesus. We call this the Incarnation. John offered his fellow Jews a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, yet John the Baptist’s call to repentance and baptism was a prophetic act pointing forward to the coming of Christ (Acts 19:4).

Today as we close the Christmas season, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. Given the nature of John’s baptism, it is very puzzling that Jesus allowed John to baptize him. Very rightly, “John tried to prevent him” from doing so (Matthew 3:14). Since Jesus was without sin, why would Jesus submit to John’s baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins?

We find the answer in our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, which speaks about the future coming of the Messiah. Jesus interpreted his mission as a fulfillment of the Suffering Servant figure in Isaiah (Luke 4:18-21, 7:18-22).

We can divide the book of Isaiah into two parts: the Book of Woes (Isaiah 1–39), which deals with Israel’s exile, and the Book of Consolations (Isaiah 40–66), which concerns God’s future promises for a restored Israel. In the Book of Consolations, a mysterious figure appears called the Suffering Servant.

Our Old Testament reading for this Mass begins with this second part of Isaiah: “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased. Upon him I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1). The Catechism notes, “The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners” (CCC 536).

It is through baptism that we enter into communion with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27). Christ joins us to himself in order that we might experience the fruits of his suffering on the cross. Jesus takes the sins of humanity upon himself on the cross, and out of love, shares his forgiveness with us through baptism.

By allowing himself to be baptized, Jesus sanctifies the waters of Baptism and opens the heavens to sinners (Matthew 3:16). The waters of Baptism represented death and rising to new life. St. Paul notes, “Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Jesus joined himself to sinful humanity in order that, out of love, he might bring them new life in the Spirit through his sacrificial death on the cross.

John the Baptist told the crowds “I am baptizing you with water, but . . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16). Regarding the Suffering Servant, Isaiah tells us, “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news. . .” (Isaiah 61:1). The ministry of the Lord’s Suffering Servant is both confirmed and empowered the Holy Spirit.

Matthew tells us “the heavens were opened” and “the Spirit of God descending like a dove” upon Jesus (Matthew 3:16).

Jesus mission is also confirmed when a “voice came from the heavens,” saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). These words seem in part to echo Psalm 2:7 “You are my son; today I have begotten you” but also today’s reading from Isaiah 42:1 “my servant . . . with whom I am pleased.”

If John’s Baptism was pointing forward to something new, what does Jesus Baptism mean to each of us today? In ancient Judaism, the covenant of circumcision allowed each Jewish person to begin their life as part of God’s family. One did not need to earn their way into the covenant, it was a gracious gift, which you could accept or reject.

St. Paul notes that in a certain sense Christian baptism is like a spiritual covenant of circumcision or a “circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11). St. Paul notes that we are joined to Christ in baptism, “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God” (Colossians 2:12). Yet for those baptized as infants, a personal act of faith is necessary to ratify this covenant.

In his Pentecost sermon, the Apostle Peter replies to the crowds, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).

St. Peter notes that the normal journey to fullness of life in Christ involves a number of key elements: faith, repentance, Baptism, and reception of the Spirit. While not suggesting we can do anything to merit our salvation, the graces of baptism require an individual response of faith and repentance as well as the reception of the Spirit.

The faith of our parents and Godparents brought us to Baptism as an infant, but this is only the beginning of our faith journey. As the fathers of Second Vatican Council noted we also require a personal response called “the obedience of faith” (Romans 13:26; 2 Corinthians 10:5-6).

The council fathers tell us this type of faith is “an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals,” (Dei Verbum 5). This act of faith leads us to a life in the Spirit. “The grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving ‘joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it’” (Dei Verbum 5).

As Jesus modeled for us at his baptism, this spirit-lead and faith-filled movement of the soul is also intended to result in an interior relationship with the Spirit who cries out “Abba Father” in our hearts (Romans 8:14-15, Galatians 4:6). Confirmation allows us to receive the fullness of the Spirit, but faith and our full cooperation is necessary to experience the intended fruits of this sacrament.

Imagine what would happen in our families and parishes if each one of us concluded this Christmas season with a resolution to renew our docility to God in prayer and in fullness of faith to unwrap his most precious gifts to us. Yes, Lord I give you my heart!

Deacon Scott McKellar is pastoral associate at St. Therese Parish, North.

For this Sunday’s scripture readings and readings throughout the year, visit the USCCB website.

The post The Baptism Of Jesus appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

January 10, 2020 - 10:05am
Megan Marley
Guest Column
Fr. Joseph Cisetti, pastor of St. Therese, North

On the beautiful celebration of the Epiphany we met the Magi, those mysterious, gift-bearing people from the east, who came from afar to pay homage to the newborn Christ. They followed a star, they came to worship, and Christ was shown forth not just to the Jewish people but to the nations.

The word, epiphany, literally means manifestation, the showing forth of Christ to the world. At Christmas Jesus is born, but at Epiphany Jesus is shown forth to the nations. And yet underlying this beauty there dwells hidden darkness. When Herod realized the Magi were not coming back to him, he reacted with great violence and cruelty.

This celebration reminds us that Jesus came not for one tribe, not for one nation, but ultimately, for all people. Each of the readings for Epiphany makes this point. One of the many values that the Epiphany reveals is that God’s love is universal and the word, catholic, literally means universal.

In my own parish of St. Therese, more than thirty countries from five different continents, are represented, and that starts to reveal the universality of the Church. On the cross, Jesus stretched out his arms to embrace the whole world.

The Magi come at the beginning of St. Matthew’s Gospel and at the conclusion of this Gospel, after his resurrection, Jesus will tell the apostles to go out and to teach all nations, not just some nations, but all nations, and to baptize them, to bring them into the family of God. This universal dimension of God’s love, the invitation to all to become part of the Kingdom, the call to repentance and conversion, are for all. These are all Epiphany Values.

Once you understand these values, you can better understand what conflicts with them. In other words, start with what is right and then you can better see what is wrong. While there are Epiphany Values, underlying the beauty of this celebration, there are also many anti-values that contradict what this feast celebrates. What are some of the anti-values?

Racism is an anti-value that contradicts the Epiphany. Racism looks to what a person is rather than who a person a person is. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, goes so far as to describe racism as a type of idolatry that can take the place of God in our lives. [CCC 2113]

The disrespect for human life, both born and unborn, at every stage and at every age is an anti-value that contradicts Epiphany values. Jesus will say that he has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Each human life is created in the image and likeness of God, but furthermore, as the Second Vatican Council noted, through Jesus’ human birth, he has, in one way, united himself with every human person. Pope Francis has wryly observed that it is not progressive to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.

To disrespect the lives of the unborn, the terminally ill and the severely disabled, contradicts the values of the Epiphany. To exploit workers, the poor, the stranger, the undocumented, the refugee and the vulnerable, disrespects human life and contradicts the values of the Epiphany.

The list of anti-values goes on but there is one that seems to be spreading around the world and it is called nationalism. Now there is critical distinction to make between patriotism and nationalism.

Patriotism is a virtue. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that patriotism is a type of piety. Patriotism realizes that after God and our parents, we are debtors to society. There are many people in our diocese and in every diocese, who have shown their patriotism. Obviously, we think of those who are honorably serving or have honorably served in the armed forces but also of many others who have exercised this virtue in many other ways.

Who we are as a nation unites us with our fellow citizens but who we are as disciples of Jesus, unites us with believers around the world. Who we are in terms of our common humanity unites us with all people.

Nationalism takes something good like patriotism and twists it into an idol that takes the place of God. Nationalism throughout the world becomes an impediment to peace, stability, human solidarity and the common good. Nationalism rejects the universal character of the Epiphany and is also a place where racism can rear its ugly head.

Speaking to the United Nations in 1995, St. John Paul II, who personified patriotism to his native Poland, clarified what he called, . . . an unhealthy form of nationalism, which teaches contempt for other nations or cultures, and patriotism, which is a proper love of one’s country.

He went on to insist that, Nationalism, particularly in its most radical forms, is . . . the antithesis of true patriotism, and that it can give rise to totalitarianism. In its extreme forms, nationalism based on fear, like Herod, reacts with violence and cruelty. We are called to love our parents, but we do not love our parents by hating someone else’s parents.

As the Magi stepped out in faith looking for Jesus, so may we follow him with lives of intentional faith. As the Magi opened their treasures before the infant Jesus, so may we open before him the treasures of our lives in what we have and who we are. May we respond to his universal love in every little way and in a universal way.

In the Eucharist, Jesus opens up the treasures of God’s love to us as he continues to give himself to us under the form of bread and wine, so that we can be strengthened to be signs of his love, not just to one group, or one country but to all whom we meet.

May we see and serve him in others and by his grace may others see him in us. May we reject anti-values and share with all whom we meet, the love God extends to all. May we embrace, share and live, Epiphany Values.

The post Epiphany Values appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

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Addressing Anarchy: Humanae Vitae at 50

By Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr.
July 27, 2018

Fifty years ago, America experienced one of the most profoundly important years in its history, and it was a year filled with anarchy. The...Read more

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