January 7, 2024

Today, we continue our celebration of Christmas with the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. This feast is celebrated on the church calendar in our country on the Sunday following January 1. The traditional date for this feast is the 12th day of Christmas, January 6. This feast of the Magi or the Three Kings commemorates the Lord’s first manifestation to people outside of the Jewish people. The Magi were foreigners, Persians and astrologers. And as foreigners, they were not included in God’s original covenant with Abraham and the Jewish people. Their presence at Jesus’ birth hints at one aspect of his ultimate mission of bringing salvation to all peoples. Fortunately, that also includes us.

“Time is a treasure that all of us possess. Let us ask for the grace to find time for God and for our neighbor – for those who are alone or suffering, for those who need someone to listen and show concern for them.”

Pope Francis

We also celebrate today the first Sunday of the New Year, 2024. This new beginning gives us a fresh, new start with many opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. It seemed that many of the recent “2023 Year in Pictures” segments online and in the periodicals featured images of human suffering and pain, especially the violence of the wars taking place in our world. These images seem to call us back to the basics, to the things that really matter. Family and faith are at the head of that list of things that really matter. Also high on the list are the relationships that sustain us and give us life. These past few weeks of the Christmas season have given us many different opportunities to connect with those who are important in our lives. We realize that our faith, which gives us direction and purpose, and our relationships, which give us life, do matter the most. I hope that these truly important aspects of life influenced our New Year’s resolutions this year.

We have had our 2024 parish calendars available in the Narthex since the middle of Advent, when we began the new Church Year. We still have copies available in both English and Spanish. I want to thank the Salerno family and the Salerno’s Rosedale Chapels for their generosity in providing our parish calendars again this year.

We celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Monday. Normally, it is celebrated on the Sunday following the Epiphany. But during years when the Epiphany is celebrated late, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated the following day. Jesus’ Baptism was the inauguration of his mission in our world, his acceptance of his vocation. This is a good opportunity for us to focus on church vocations – those that arise from baptism as well as those that are lived in the diaconate, priesthood and religious life. We now have the 2023-24 Joliet Seminarian poster displayed in our church and throughout our parish campus. The poster highlights the fact that our diocesan seminarians come from parishes much like our own.  

Monday’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of the Christmas/Epiphany cycle of the Church Year. On Tuesday, we begin the cycle of Ordinary Time, wearing green vestments again. Our Sunday Gospel readings will begin the continuous reading of Mark’s Gospel. This first part of the Ordinary Time cycle will last until Ash Wednesday on February 14. The end of the holidays and the beginning of Ordinary Time does not mean that less-than-exciting things are happening in our lives. We are still called to grow closer to our God, but in ordinary, everyday and normal ways. And God continues to be present to us in the Ordinary Time season of the year, just as as he is in the major seasons of the year. God is always faithful, no matter what season we may be celebrating. Our task is to keep our eyes, ears, mind and heart open to the subtle ways God moves in our lives.

Finally, I want to thank all of you, the members of our St. Isidore parish family, for your continued support of our many, many parish ministries and activities. I also want to thank you for your faithful financial support. Not only were you very generous with your Christmas offerings, but you were faithful in responding to our Covenant Recommitment last fall. As always, thank you for being so steadfast in your weekly support of the parish through your regular Sunday offerings. Without your continued support, we could not provide all of the ministries, activities and programs that make us such an alive and active parish community. Another area that we can be proud of is our response to the 2023 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. Again this past year, we have surpassed our goal in paid pledges to the diocese and we will receive a rebate. This past year has been a good year for our parish.

Now that we have said goodbye to 2023 and begun 2024, we look to the future with faith and hope. We pray that God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.

– Father Jim Murphy