October 29, 2023

On this final Sunday in October, we celebrate the 30th Sunday in the Ordinary Time of the Year. This week’s Gospel reading continues recounting the episodes of tension and conflict between Jesus and the Scribes and Pharisees. In this episode, a scholar of the law steps forward and attempts to discredit Jesus and his authority to teach. He asks which of the six hundred thirteen commandments of the law is the most important. Jesus offers not one commandment, but two – love God with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself. For Jesus, love of neighbor and love of God are intimately connected and embrace all the other commandments. Jesus is faithful to the tradition of the law and thus teaches with authority.

“We, the women and men of the Church, we are in the middle of a love story; each of us is a link in the chain of love. And if we do not understand this, we have understood nothing of what the Church is.”

Pope Francis

This weekend we observe our “Covenant Renewal 2023 – How am I living the covenant?” Each year, we take some time to step back as a parish and acknowledge the many gifts we have been given. We humbly acknowledge that everything we have is a gift from God and that our only appropriate response is gratitude. We gratefully receive God’s gifts, use what we need, and share the rest with those in need. Our stewardship is a covenant with the Lord. We take this covenant seriously by prayerfully considering the ways in which we can give of ourselves by sharing our time, our talent and our treasure. We are asking each person in our parish to increase their time in prayer (individual and community) each week and to participate in a ministry of some kind. The first step is gratitude. As we listen to God’s invitation to share his gifts in gratitude, we deepen the covenant between ourselves, our God, and the whole of God’s creation. Please join me in making our renewal this “Covenant Renewal Weekend 2023.” 

This week, we will celebrate two major Feast Days that are celebrated back to back, sort of like Act 1 and Act 2 of a play. On Wednesday, November 1, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints. It is one of the six Holy Days of Obligation that are observed in our country. We take time to honor and remember all of the holy men and women of every age. They have now gone before us in faith and live with God. We look to them for encouragement and trust in the support of their prayers as we continue to live our lives here on earth. Masses will be celebrated beginning with an anticipation Mass in Spanish on Tuesday evening at 7:00 pm. We continue on Wednesday morning at 6:30 am and with the Grade School community at 8:15 am. We will celebrate our regular 12:05pm Mass and conclude with an evening Mass at 7:00 pm in English. All Masses will be celebrated in the church.

On Thursday, November 2, we will celebrate Act 2 with the Feast of All Souls. We remember all of our beloved dead and hold them in prayer. We will especially remember those whose names have been entered in our Parish Book of the Dead. Masses on All Souls Day will be celebrated at 7:00 am, 12:05 pm, and we will hold our annual Parish Memorial Mass at 7:00 pm. We will individually remember those from our parish who have died this past year. Following the homily, we will pray a Litany of our Beloved Dead and read the names of each parishioner who has died during this past year. During that time, all present are welcome to come forward and light a memorial candle for their deceased relatives. It is a very powerful and moving celebration. All are welcome to participate in this annual Mass.

Celebrating these feasts at this time of year could not be more appropriate. As the world of nature around us gradually dies in preparation for winter, we remember those who have gone before us in faith and who now live with God just beyond our reach. Our All Souls’ Masses remind us that we are still connected to our beloved dead through our faith, and our community celebration assures us that we do not grieve alone.

In preparation for the Feast of All Souls, our parish Book of the Dead is now in the Narthex of the Church. You are welcome to add the names of your personal beloved dead. They will be remembered at both our Parish Memorial Mass and throughout the month of November. If you are unable to do this in person, please contact the parish office and we will add the names of your beloved dead for you.

As we celebrate Halloween on Tuesday and change our clocks next weekend, the beauty of autumn is quickly fading. Our Scripture readings will soon turn our focus upon the end times and our ultimate destiny with God. It is time to focus on the truly important things. We ask God’s help in responding. As always, may God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.

– Father Jim Murphy