January 28, 2024

On this last Sunday in January, we celebrate the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We continue to make our way through this brief stretch of this season between the celebrations of Christmas and the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, February 14. We continue our year-long reading of Mark’s Gospel, picking up where we left off last week. Jesus began his preaching asking for repentance and then calling disciples to follow him, beginning with the brothers Peter and Andrew, and then James and John. Following their immediate response, Jesus moves on to Capernaum – the center of his ministry in Galilee and the city of his first teachings and miracles in Mark’s Gospel. This first miracle – rebuking an unclean spirit – gives us the important features of Jesus’ ministry that occur over and over in the Gospels: Sabbath, teaching, healing and authority. On a Sabbath, he enters the local synagogue, teaches with authority, heals a person troubled by an unclean spirit and confirms that his authority extends to his power over evil. The Kingdom of God has truly come near!

 A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.

Pope Francis

This final week of January is our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. We have a long and proud history of Catholic education here at our parish. This week is a good time to celebrate our mission of passing on our faith tradition from one generation to the next. The School community will serve the parish community at the 10:00 am Mass by stepping in as lectors and greeters, and the Grade School Choir will lead us in music. It is encouraging to see so many of our young people serving the parish in the different ministries of the Mass. The Knights of Columbus are joining in the celebration by sponsoring a Pancake breakfast from 8 am – noon. There will be an Open House in the School from 11:00 am – noon. The school children will continue their celebration at the School Mass on Wednesday at 8:15 am in the church. Various additional activities are planned for each day throughout the week. We offer our prayers and thanks for our teachers, administrators, staff and all who share in the ministry of Catholic education.

Congratulations to our parish 2nd graders, who celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time this past week. Services were held on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and Saturday morning. It was great to celebrate this wonderful Sacrament of God’s healing with them and their parents. Congratulations also go to their parents and teachers, who brought them to this special moment in their lives. We look forward to their First Communion celebrations during the Easter Season.

On Friday, February 2, we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. According to the Law of Moses (Exodus 13:12-16), firstborn males were to be dedicated to the Lord. At the time of Jesus, this was done by a ceremony in the Temple, forty days after birth. Friday’s Gospel reading gives us the details of Jesus’ presentation. Since that Mass normally begins with the blessing of candles, the Feast is also known as “Candlemas Day.” Blessed candles for home use will be available following our Masses on Friday.

Saturday, February 3 is the memorial of St. Blasé. He was a bishop in Armenia and was believed to have been martyred in the persecutions in the early 4th century. He is associated with the healing of throats. Traditionally, we celebrate this memorial with the blessing of throats. We will be happy to offer this blessing at the end of our morning Mass on Saturday.

The 2024 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal is scheduled to kick off next weekend, February 3 & 4, and our in-pew signup weekend will take place on February 10 & 11. Many of us have already received the 2024 Appeal mailing from Bishop Hicks. Early responses can give us a positive boost toward reaching this year’s goal, so please send yours in if you are able to. My pledge was sent in early January.

Today we have the opportunity to join with the other parishes of our diocese in responding to the collection for the Church in Latin America. This collection is an important way for Catholics in our country to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters in areas of the world with great need. Envelopes were included in the packet mailed to our homes or electronic contributions made on our website are appreciated.

We begin the shortest month of the year this Thursday. The days are getting longer. Lent will begin in a few weeks, followed by Easter and spring. Notice the signs of life all around us and take hope. As always, may God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.

 – Father Jim Murphy