35 Dartmouth Street, Garden City, New York 11530 - (516) 352-5904
How Do I?

Fr. Tom’s Letters


Each week Fr. Tom writes a letter to parishioners in our bulletin.  Every letter is comprehensive, including current information about the Parish, an explanation of Scripture for that Sunday, and an invitation to become more engaged in the life of the parish.





July 15, 2018

Dear Parishioners,

The first reading today comes from the prophet Amos.  Amos is often described as the social justice prophet.  We hear today in the reading how Amos is expelled by the priest in charge of the royal sanctuary.  A summary of Amos is offered in the New American Bible:

“The prophecy begins with a sweeping indictment of Damascus, Philistia, Tyre, and Edom; but the forthright herdsman saves his climactic denunciation for Israel, whose injustice and idolatry are sins against the light granted to her.  Israel could indeed expect the day of Yahweh, but it would be a day of darkness and not light.  When Amos prophesied the overthrow of the sanctuary, the fall of the royal house, and the captivity of the people, it was more than Israelite officialdom could bear.  The priest of Bethel drove Amos from the shrine — but not before hearing a terrible sentence pronounced upon himself.

“Amos is a prophet of divine judgement, and the sovereignty of Yahweh in nature and history dominates his thought.  But he was no innovator; his conservatism was in keeping with the whole prophetic tradition calling the people back to the high moral and religious demands of Yahweh’s revelation.  In common with the other prophets, Amos knew that divine punishment is never completely destructive; it is part of the hidden plan of God to bring salvation to men.  The perversity of the human will may retard, but it cannot totally frustrate, this design of a loving God…”

So Amos’ role is a difficult one.  He was a person of the fields, a shepherd and “dresser of sycamores.”  “The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”  Prophecy was neither his profession nor his preference.  To the vocation of prophet, God called Amos.  The story of Amos offers us reminders and raises questions.

Amos’ life reminds us that God can ask of us something that is not our preference.  It seems Amos would have preferred to remain a man of the fields.  God asked him to take on a different life.  Amos was asked to leave the field, go to the populace, and summon them to a life more in accord with their faith.  For this, Amos was rejected.  In our own lives there may well be difficult tasks, responsibilities, situations, relationships that the Lord asks of us that would not be our preference.  We may not be asked to be a prophet but in our vocations as family members and in the Church, in our professions at the work place with other team and staff members, in our relationships with family members, relatives, friends, and neighbors, we may well be challenged to act with virtue and represent gospel virtues that bring us hardship and even pain.  I find it more and more that living our Catholic faith in today’s society is becoming more and more countercultural.

Priest — Prophet — King is the Israelite tradition.  The priest was to offer sacrifice.  The prophet was to preach God’s word.  The king was to serve and lead.  The theology of baptism teaches that all the baptized are called to share in this threefold tradition.  The life of Jesus reflected all three dimensions of the life of faith.  Our present life in the faith is called to reflect prayer — proclamation — service.  Our prayer is daily and connected closely to our Sunday Mass and the whole sacramental life.  Our service is daily amid our families, in our communities, to the sick and to all those in need.  Our proclamation, the prophetic role, is intimately related to the gospel message and to the truths that Jesus taught.  The prophet remains close to the first teachings of Jesus, the Beatitudes.  When we seek to understand deeply who Jesus was, we come to realize that Jesus is the Truth that needs to be preached and proclaimed.

Who are the prophets of our day?  Are there still prophets? Emphatically, yes!  The last half of the 20th century and these first decades of this century have been astounding times in terms of the popes we have had.  Five years ago, Saint Pope John XXIII and Saint Pope John Paul II were canonized.  This coming October Blessed Pope Paul VI will be canonized.  From 1958 to 2005, these were the Holy Fathers who led our Church.  Each was a prophet.  John XXIII proclaimed the need for reform in the Church.  His prophetic role led to the great renewals of Vatican Council II.  John Paul II preached tirelessly on the sacredness of all human life and the need then to respect human rights.  His prophetic role led to the fall of Communism in Europe.  Pope Paul VI constantly affirmed the sanctity of family and marriage and called the world to a pursuit of peace.  He first brought the message of the gospel to the United Nations.  For many of us, these have been the popes of our lifetime.  We can only wonder what would have been the lasting gift of John Paul I.  And to this day, serious readers continue to enjoy the wonderful contributions of Pope Benedict, especially in those marvelous books he gave us about the life of Jesus.

Pope Francis is deeply faithful to the prophetic tradition.  Profoundly, he calls the Church, truly as a prophet, to be especially attentive to the weak and the vulnerable.  He loves to lift up children and encourage the young.  He visits the sick and always includes them in his most important liturgical celebrations.  He visits the imprisoned.  He sympathizes with the plights of immigrants.  He demands that the rich share with the poor.  Just recently he invited 200 immigrants to pray with him at Mass in the Chapel of the Chair of Peter at St. Peter’s Basilica.  He seeks always to present people to one another as Sisters and Brothers in Christ and nothing less.  And in the prophetic tradition his words and actions are often snubbed and dismissed.  The Amos tradition, the prophetic tradition is very much alive.

Enjoy a blessed week!  

Fr. Tom











































































































































































































































































































The letters are available in PDF and require Adobe Reader to view.  If you do not have Adobe Reader, you can download it for FREE by clicking the graphic to the right.