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Pastor's Letter 20231105 - 05 November 2023 - Projecting Our True Selves

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November 5th, 2023

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time


A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “Projecting our True Selves”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

(Malachi 1:14-2:10)  The prophet berates the priests of his day for failing to live up to their calling, attacking their laxity and carelessness regarding morality and worship.  He specifically takes the priests to task, in their having shirked their responsibility for faith among the people.


(1 Thessalonians 2:7-13)  Paul’s reminds the Thessalonians of his love and care for them, and how hard he worked to bring them the Good News.  He knew that before one could preach the Lord, Jesus, one first had to believe, to be fully given in faith and live in accordance to that profession.  Only by living one’s words and works can a person be an effective apostle.  


(Matthew 23:1-12)  Jesus launches a strong attack on the Scribes and Pharisees, but what He says is important for us, too.  He levies strong criticism on those who use religion to gain spiritual power, and who do not live what is at the heart of religion—love and compassion, justice and faith.  Just as an artist can turn a mental picture into reality in oils and clay, the Christian must translate an inner faith into words and deeds.  


Neglecting the Interior

Today, great emphasis is placed on appearances.  The image is everything.  People may put on a “front,” but they are not like that, “deep down.”  Appearances can truly be deceiving.  (Politicians’ promises come to mind….)

In olden days, a castle would be built on an elevation overlooking beautiful woods and lakes, in a manner that it dominated the surrounded countryside—with its stout walls, turrets, towers and buttresses, that served to give it an impressive appearance. 

Stepping inside that same castle, today, we likely might see a completely different picture.  Rather than presenting a regal impression, one might encounter a cold, harsh interior, littered with crumbling plaster and fallen masonry.  The main roof may be missing, as well as most ceilings and floors.  Of course, there wouldn’t be a stick of furniture to be found, and its massive fireplaces are cold and empty.  Although it may still be impressive, from a distance, the remaining exterior building would be little more than a “shell.”  

The Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day projected an image, on the whole, of good, and holy people.  But inside, they were anything but that.  The real tragedy was that they were blind to their faults!  We may ask, “What good is piety, if it doesn’t make us more humble, loving and compassionate?”  Sadly, many of us are like that, too.

How often do we consider ourselves to be “better” than others; or lay down the law for others; demanding sacrifices of them we don’t require of ourselves?  Do we not like to be admired and noticed, if we can?  Are we not occasionally- lacking in charity, compassion, a sense of justice and a spirit of service?  

Each of us has two “selves.”  The outer, public one, is what other people see.  Interior to that, the private one can only be seen by ourselves.  The outer self is the “shell.”  The inner self is the “kernel.”  

Our need to pretend, or to impress others, stems from a need for self-worth originating outside—from others’ opinions of us—that gives us the approval, acceptance and status we crave.  But the appearance without the reality is a hollow existence—image, without substance.  

We cannot achieve happiness or holiness as long as we pretend to be what we are not.  The moment we try, we become a fictitious personality, an unreal presence.  Like the Pharisees of old, many religious people are not saints, because they never succeed in really being themselves.  

When we concentrate our efforts on developing inner goodness, we don’t have to shout about it, or even want to.  We know with quiet certainty we have something no one can take from us—which makes us feel worthwhile—no matter what others may think.  We have self-esteem, and self-respect.  

Our Blessed Lord sees that which we truly are—beneath the outer appearance—the inner person.  This is they way He saw the Scribes and Pharisees of His day, hidden under their pious exteriors.  Looking deeply, He saw their masks of religious pomp and show covering their “hollow” interiors.  Conversely, it gave Him great joy when He discovered a genuine person.  (He tolerated Peter’s failings because He knew, in spite of his obvious faults, his heart was sound. ) 

We must always work to “be ourselves,” otherwise we are “false.”  Then, our outward appearance ceases to be an expression, or revelation of our soul, but a shell, surrounding a bereft, inner core.  Our greatest mission is to work to conform our lives with our convictions, and to make peace between our inner and outer selves. 

In some so-called “primitive” societies, outer beauty is believed to be the result of good, inner moral character.  This means that if we take care of the inner self, the outer self will take care of itself.  

May God Richly Bless You!


My Faith Has Found a Resting Place.docx

To view a recording of today's Holy Mass, click here:


Edited by Father Michael
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