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April 5, 1991     The Message
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April 5, 1991

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April'5,1991 Commentary  Ma:;s Ftp.adings By FArIiEIt. b DONAI DILGER Th e Mssage -- for CatholiCs of Southwestern ldina I I I I i Spirit brings peace and a call to forgiveness 5 Gospel Commentary for Second Sunday of Easter, April 7, 1991: John 20:19-31 Today's gospel has three parts. The first part records the appearance of the risen Lord Jesus to his disciples. Jesus has returned from the Father and brought the Holy Spirit whom he breathes upon his disciples. With the giving of the Spirit Jesus also gives them the power of judgment over sin. All of this will be the gospel for Pentecost Sunday and so we will omit detailed comment on it at this time. When Jesus appeared to the disciples, one of them, Thomas, was absent. When he returned, the others told him about Jesus' visit: "We have seen the Lord." Thomas refused to believe them. He wanted experimental proof. He needed to touch the scar of the nails and the wound in Jesus' side before he would believe. Eight days later Jesus returns and invites Thomas to see for himself and to touch the scars and wound and "do not be unbelieving but believing." Thomas' faith over- whelms him and he acknowledges Jesus as "my Lord and my God." Jesus adds a blessing on those who believe without seeing. Like every other story included in the gospels, the story of doubting Thomas was included as a teaching device. What is John telling his readers? Thomas represents those who have a beginning ii ii faith but demand proof. They want to see "signs and wonders." The author of this gospel does not approve of such an attitude. The invitation of Jesus to Thomas to see for himself is an invitation to all Christians to examine the evidence for the truth of Christianity, the claim that Jesus is divine, the claim that he fs "my Lord and my God." The evidence of Jesus' divinity is presented especially in the Scriptures. The experimental proof that Thomas demanded is no longer available. We cannot demand ta touch and see the scars on Jesus' body. He is no longer with us in the same physical way he was with the disciples of the early first century. This is why John now adds the bless- ing of Jesus on those who believe without the kind of seeing Thomas demanded. We now believe on the witness of the Scriptures and the witness of those whose lives have been changed because of their encounter with Jesus in faith. The only scars and wounds that a Christian after the time of Jesus can see are the scars and wounds of the poor and suffering whom Jesus taught us to serve: "If I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet." It is to see these pear and wound- ed that the invitation of Jesus is now extended: "Put your finger here and see my hands. Put out your hand and place it on my side." The hand that is "placed on my side" is no longer the hand of curiosity and proof-seeking, but the hand that com- forts, the hand that heals. John ends this section of the gospel with the statement that Jesus did many other things not written in this book. What he has included in the book, the gospel, was included "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name." What comes through loud and clear is that the gospel is not a biography of Jesus, but rather a careful selection of words and deeds of Jesus. Their purpose is to arouse and nourish faith in Jesus as Son of God. But that faith never stands idle. 111 the first part of today's gospel Jesus had commissioned the disciples to take up his work: "As the Father sent me, so do I send you." To accomplish that work he bestowed on them the Holy Spirit. The work of the Spirit is to bring about peace. That peace comes with the right relationship toward God and toward others: "Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven." Though the primary meaning of this text is the authority to judge over sin, secondarily it calls on every Christian to forgive. Forgiveness brings peace. PEACE BE WITIi YOU! Readings for Sunday, April 7, 1991: ACTS 4:32-35; I John 5:1-6: Maternity home tax credit now available By ANN WADELTON Indiana Catholic Conference Family leave legislation, en- battled on both the state and na- tional levels, has gained both a prominent spokespersan and survey results which effectively refute opposition arguments. Indiana's Senator Dan Coats has changed his position and become a strong supporter of guaranteeing a leave of absence for the birth, adoption or serious illness of a child, And a new study for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), found that it may be cheaper for employers to give Workers unpaid leave for child birth or family illness than to let employees quit or hire replacements. "On average, it is going to cost less to grant the leave than it is to do the termination," said Eileen Trzcinski, an assistant professor of economics at Cor- nell University. The study of Trzcinski and William T. Alpert, an associate professor of economics at the University of Connecticut, found the cost of giving unpaid leave to a worker is relatively small when savings on the employee's salary are taken into account. Senator Coats became a fami- ly leave supporter after listen- ing to testimony on the national legislation. He said that he II I I L Merle' s S wim Club Individual Memberships 6 mos. 100.00 yr. 175.00 I Family Memberships 6 rues. 150.00 1 yr. 200.00 HOURS: 10 A.M. to 10 P.M. Membership includes: Pool, Exercise & Weight Room Whirlpool, CHildren's INdoor Playground GUEST PASSES A VAILABLE Facilities Available for Children & Adult Parties All Major Credit Cards Accepted Call for Details -- 867-7999  RADISSON INN 7101 U.S. 41 North Evansville, Indiana 10% Discount with presentation of church bulletin II I I "searched his conscience and realized that a baby is most vulnerable when first born and society needs to support the baby and family." Family leave is a legislative issue at both the state and federal level. A bill before the Indiana General Asembly, HB 1208 was approved 59-41 in the House early in the session. Senator Pro Tom Robert Garton (R-Columbus) only recently assigned it to the Pensions and Labor Committee. The bill has the active support of a broad coalition representing labor, women's groups, seniors, human services, church leaders and others. But its chances of getting a hearing are uncertain, despite these new developments, because of the delay in assigning it to a com- mittee as well as the traditional positions of a majority of the Senators serving on that committee. At the federal level, family leave was approved by bath houses of Congress last session but vetoed by President Bush. It has been introduced again and approved by a House commit- tee. The full House is expected to debate it next month. That bill would guarantee 12 weeks unpaid leave to workers with companies which have at least 50 employees. The Indiana bill, introduced by Rep. John Day, would guarantee 10 weeks leave for workers in companies with 20 or more employees. Senate sponsor is Sue Landske (R- Cedar Lake). The United States Bishops were among the early sup- porters of' family leave, seeing it as affirming the dignity of life. and contributing to the stability of families. The legislation is high priority for both the United States Catholic Con- ference (USCC) and the Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC). Referring to the prevalence of mothers of small children in the workforce, Dr. M. Desmond Ryan, ICC's executive director said "Despite the dramatic changes in the workforce in re- cent years, we continue to operate as though mothers stay at home to care for their children and fathers' wages are sufficient to support the family. Most workers risk losing their jobs, along with their health benefits, if they take time off to meet family responsibilities." Sixty percent of working women have no form of mater- nity leave. The SBA survey is the first on a national basis to look at the cost to employers of covering for a worker on leave. Overall the findings indicate that employers have sufficient flex- ibility to adjust to leave-takers absences in cost effective ways. In four of six categories tabulated, the average cost of handling the leave-taker's work was very close to the usual full- time salary and benefits of the leave-taker. The two exceptions were managers in the smallest firms and non-managers in the largest firms. Most frequently, some work was held over until the leave- taker's return. Next thost prevalent was rerouting work to others within the department. Temporary replacements from outside the firm were hired for 30 percent of managers of middle-size companies and 69 percent of non-mauagers of large companies. Some work was sent home to managers and in some cases the leave-taker was transferred to a new posi- tion when they returned to work. The methods differed by industry, firm size, leave dura- tion and the occupation of the leave-taker. Important in the overall effect on the company was whether the employer had time in ad- vance to plan for the leave, as with family leave, or if the leave was for a medical emergency with little prior notice. In the SBA survey, 10,000 business executives were asked to answer questions based on the previous year's experience with employee leaves. Ques- tions included how the com- pany handled the work usually performed by the leave-taker and what was the average cost of handling the leave-takers work. Returns were tabulated into three groups by the size of the company ranging from fewer than 15 employees, to those in excess of 100 workers. Employees were divided into manager and nou-manager categories. State Tax Credit Individuals can now apply for a state lax credit, applicable to 199!1 taxes, using a form recently approved by the Inter- nal Rew'.nue Service and the In- diana State Board of Health. The credit is the result of a law passed lasl year, called the Jaternity ltome law, which grants a tax credit to in- dividuals who open their homes ta a needy pregnant woman for at least 60 days dur- ing the pregnancy or im- mediately following the birth. "]'he bill was sponsored by Rep. Jerome Kearns (D-Terre Haute).l If necessary, an amended tax form can be filed to take advan- tage of the tax credit. A formula to calculate the credit is included an the ap- plication and figures about $200 per month to a maximum of $3,000 credit per year. The total allowable credit is capped See MA TERNITY page 12