September 10, 2023

Today, we celebrate the 23rd Sunday in the season of the Ordinary Time of the Year. In our Gospel reading this weekend, we reach a turning point in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus is now making his way to Jerusalem where he will ultimately face his death. His days are limited. Time is short. From here on out, he speaks about the most important things on his mind and in his heart. This weekend, we hear that his disciples must be peacemakers and freely share the gift of forgiveness that they have freely received! The community of his disciples (the church) must be a home that all people feel free to seek out.

We need a Church capable of walking at people’s side, of doing more than simply listening to them; a Church which accompanies them on their journey.

Pope Francis

Now that we are past the Labor Day holiday, we welcome back all those who have spent the summer weekends away. When I was growing up, my family had a summer home on Delavan Lake in Wisconsin. Summer weekends and holidays were always spent “at the lake.” We were very familiar with the summer Mass schedules of St. Andrew’s church in Delavan and St. Benedict’s church in Fontana. Both parishes became our summer parish as we would go to whichever church offered the next scheduled Sunday Mass. We would return to our home parish of St. John the Baptist in Winfield on the Sunday following Labor Day. I was always amazed to learn what had happened at my home parish during the time when we were “at the lake” between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It was easy to lose touch with our home parish while we were at our summer parishes. If this experience sounds familiar – if you have been attending another parish “at the lake” this summer – we are very happy to welcome you back. If your summer Mass attendance took a vacation during the summer months, we are also glad to have you back with us. Autumn and the start of the school year are a good time to recommit ourselves to faithfully joining our parish community for Mass each weekend.       

Many of us remember, and will probably always remember, exactly where we were and what we were doing on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Tomorrow, we observe the 22nd anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks on our country. A common reaction at that time was that everyone had to really ask themselves what was important in life. The normal things that we get so excited about were all cast aside. Again this year, the news coverage of this anniversary gives us ample opportunity to reflect on the many ways the events of that day have changed us. Our individual experiences these past 22 years have been varied. For myself, I believe that we have become much more aware of how fragile human life really is. Despite our efforts to control the circumstances around us, we are not guaranteed a tomorrow. The invitation that comes in remembering 9-11 is to not take anything for granted. We need to do the things we need to do and to say the things we need to say today, so that there are no regrets tomorrow. Without a doubt, people are far more important than things.

Thank you to our Knights of Columbus Father John Guiney Council for hosting our annual “Blue Mass” at the 10:00 am Mass today. It is very appropriate that we honor our local first responder heroes as we commemorate the 9/11 anniversary tomorrow. Thank you to all police, firefighters, Sheriff’s deputies, Emergency Medical Technicians and rescue workers who have joined with us today. We thank you for your service, and we ask God’s continued blessings upon you.

The summer, with its slower pace, is clearly gone. It is good to be in such an alive and exciting time of year. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.

– Father Jim Murphy