January 21, 2024

Today, we celebrate the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time. It is also known as “The Sunday of the Word of God.” In September 2019, Pope Francis requested that “The Sunday of the Word of God” be celebrated each year on the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time. This Sunday reminds us of the importance and value of Sacred Scripture for the Christian life, as well as the relationship between the word of God and the liturgy. Pope Francis wrote, “As Christians, we are one people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes us. A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the Risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers.”

As we celebrate the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we continue to make our way through this initial stretch of this season between the celebrations of Christmas and the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, February 14. We begin our year-long reading of Mark’s Gospel today. Mark opens the curtain on Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee. Jesus begins his ministry in the part of Galilee known for its large Gentile (non-Jews) population. He approaches those whom many Jews regarded as outside of God’s offer of salvation, announcing the arrival of God’s kingdom among them. His first proclamation is to Gentiles – outsiders – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus not only includes Gentiles in God’s kingdom, he proclaims it to them before approaching fellow Jews. Once the outsiders have been invited and made welcome, Jesus invites the Jewish brothers Peter and Andrew along with James and John to join him as disciples. The pattern is set – he will invite all people, making no distinctions. Fortunately, that includes us! 

In most circumstances, anniversaries are normally happy and welcome celebrations. Not so with Monday’s 51st anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s decision permitting abortion on demand in our country. The new Appendix to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal states: “In all dioceses of the United States of America, January 22nd … shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person through acts of abortion and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.” We are all invited to remember this intention and to make Monday a day of penance in reparation for all victims of the violence of abortion. Our daily Masses will focus on this day of penance and witness to our belief that all life is sacred.

We are currently in the middle of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which concludes on Thursday, January 25, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. This week has been observed since 1968. Our parish has been invited to join with several of the area churches for an ecumenical prayer service on Sunday, January 21 at 7:00 pm, hosted by the New Jerusalem House of Prayer and the Wheaton Christian Center at 610 E. North Avenue in Carol Stream. All are welcome. In addition to Sunday evening’s prayer service, we will keep the cause of Christian unity before us in our community prayer. And let us all, each in our own way, beseech the Lord to restore unity to the church.

We remember our parish 2nd graders and their families in prayer this week as they celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. We will be having multiple celebrations throughout the week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Congratulations to our young people, their parents and their teachers for bringing them to this point in their lives.

Next Sunday, we begin our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. The Grade School community will join us at the 10:00 am Mass and lead us in the liturgical ministries. The Grade School choir will lead us in song, the Knights of Columbus will offer a pancake breakfast, and we will host an Open House in the school. We will continue our celebration of Catholic Schools Week throughout the week and especially at the regular Wednesday School Mass at 8:15 am.

We are now more than halfway through the month of January. Even though the days are gradually getting longer, last weekend’s extreme cold temperatures reminded us that this is January in Chicago. Be well and keep safe. God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.

– Father Jim Murphy