February 19, 2017

Invitation or Command?

A few days ago I was having a nice conversation, during dinner time, when someone confronted me with this important question. “Should I do what I am supposed to do just because God invites me or because He commands me to do it?” For example, “Should I attend Mass every Sunday because it is one of His commandments or because He is inviting me to have a closer relationship with His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ?”

We can reply in a purely straightforward manner, "It’s a command rather than an invitation.” But this answer is not as easy to give as we might imagine. Why? Because as human beings we truly don’t like to be commanded; we prefer to be invited. Yes, the majority of us prefer an invitation to do or not do something, over being commanded. This dilemma is not something new. I’m not creating this hypothesis.  Since the very beginning of creation, man and woman have been confronted and challenged by this dichotomy. In the first chapter of Genesis, we read how Adam and Eve were told: “It’s only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’"(Gen 3:3) What was their first move? They ate it! Why…because God, instead of inviting them not to do it, gave them a command. I honestly wonder, were Adam and Eve Cuban?

A more profound question to ask about this dilemma is, “What is wrong with being commanded rather than being invited?” Is it not acceptable, especially, if that person is God, the One who creates us, redeems us, and loves us unconditionally? Most of all God wants us to be always safe, alive and able to abide with Him for all eternity.

Of course, we need to realize that when God is commanding us, instead of inviting us, it’s because He wants us to be closer to Him and to act towards others as he acts towards us. God does not command us to do or not to do something just because He wants to make us miserable or has a whim.  The Lord commands us because we are only able to achieve our full potential in life by following his orders. When God tells us not to do or to do something, it is because He wants the best for us. As He reminds us in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

In the last paragraph of today’s Gospel, Jesus offers us a command when he declares, "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father…So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." God commands us today to live our lives loving others, because God is Love itself. To truly love is to do whatever is possible and even what seems impossible for the well-being of the beloved.

In conclusion, when God chooses to command us instead of to invite us, it is for the same reason as when we read the sign on the electric panel of a building, "Do Not Touch – High Voltage".  To be commanded by God, rather than to be invited guarantees us life rather than death. Indeed, God forms us to be perfect as He, our heavenly Father, is perfect!
With Love,  Fr. Julio

March 1, 2017
Ash Wednesday Schedule

Masses with Eucharist and distribution of ashes:
7:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM & 7:00 PM
3:30 PM Prayer Service with distribution of ashes

LAST YEAR’S PALMS MAY BE PLACED
IN THE PURPLE PALM BOX
IN THE CHURCH VESTIBULE
Prayer Opportunities

Exposition of Blessed Sacrament and Benediction
Will take place in Church on
Saturday, February 25th
from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Reconciliation from 11:00 AM – 12:00 N  
Benediction at 12:45 PM

BENEDICTION

MEDITATION HOUR

MEDITATION HOUR
"Desert Surrender"
Please join us on Thursday, March 2nd at 7:00 PM in Marian Hall for prayer, guided meditation and reflection.

RCIA

Journey with Us – Discover the Keys to the Kingdom
Join us on Monday, February 27th at 7:00 PM
in the Russo Room as we journey with the Letters of Paul.

If you would like more information about RCIA, please call Donna Scancarella at 973-779-6200.  Make-up sessions will be available.

Bible Study

A seven week Lenten Bible Study series begins on Monday, February 27th at 11:00 AM in the Molloy Center.  We will discuss the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus from St. John’s Gospel.

7th Annual St. Patrick Dinner Dance
&
St. Joseph Dessert Table

7TH ANNUAL ST. PATRICK DINNER DANCE

Saturday, March 11th at 7 PM

St. Philip Auditorium
(doors open 6:30 PM)

Traditional Irish Dinner
Beer, Wine, Soda, Coffee/Tea, Italian Desserts
Specialty drinks available for purchase
$40.00 per person

7TH ANNUAL ST. PATRICK DINNER DANCE

Entertainment by The Peter McKiernan Band

To purchase tickets, please send the following
• Your name
• Phone number 
• Number of tickets requested
• Payment (check payable to St. Philip the Apostle)
To
St. Philip the Apostle Church
797 Valley Rd., Clifton, NJ 07013
Attn: St. Patrick Tickets
**You will receive a call when your tickets are ready to be picked up at the Parish Office**

Tickets will be sold after all masses on February 18/19

This event sells out quickly so order your tickets early!
For more information call Donna @ 973-779-6200
Tickets will not be available at the door
You must be 21 years or older to attend this event

Stewards of Christ’s Work

Thank you to all parishioners who have completed and submitted your Commitment Card to the church. As a reminder, we ask that commitments be submitted to the church no later than February 26 in order to be accounted for in the final Summary Report. For those parishioners not currently supporting the church on a regular basis, please consider making a commitment through envelopes or Online Giving to support the needs of our parish.

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

Religious Education Classes schedule
Grades 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6: February 26, March 26
Grade 2: February 26, March 19, 26
Grades 7, 8: March 19
Confirmation Grade 9, 10:  March 19

To read complete bulletin click here