Today we celebrate the 20th Sunday in the season of the Ordinary Time of the Year and we continue our 5-week Gospel reading of the great Bread of Life discourse in John Chapter 6. It is a break in our chronological reading of St. Mark’s gospel. We are now in the 4th week of this chapter and reach a turning point in Jesus’ discourse. We are told that Jesus, fully present in the Eucharist, replaces the bread from heaven of old, the manna in the desert. Those who ate this bread still died, but those nourished by Jesus, who becomes one with believers through food and drink, will live forever. Through our sharing in the Lord’s Supper, the oneness of believer and Jesus is deepened, and so disciples “remain” in him. We are being led to a deeper appreciation of the gift of the Lord’s presence to us in the Eucharist.
One of my favorite “call” stories in the Gospels is the call of the apostle, Peter. John’s Gospel (Chapter 1) tells us that Peter’s brother, Andrew, was originally a disciple of John the Baptist. Once Jesus begins his public ministry, John points his disciples in Jesus’ direction and they begin to follow Jesus. One of the first things that Andrew does after meeting Jesus is to go and get his brother, Peter. He wanted to share what he had experienced with Jesus. Andrew then brings Peter to meet the Lord. Peter begins his new life of faith with the invitation of his brother, Andrew.
It is amazing how this pattern is repeated in our own day. When I ask engaged couples how they met, many report that a mutual friend introduced them to each other. Someone else imagined some possibilities for them as a couple and then brought them together. God acted through the invitation. Or another example – when I interview potential seminarians for the Vocation Office, I ask when they first considered the priesthood. Many report that they didn’t even think of becoming a priest until someone else suggested the possibility to them. Someone else recognized priestly talent in them and asked if they ever thought of becoming a priest. That question was all that was needed to set the ball in motion. God acted again through the invitation given by another.
The same is often true when someone takes steps to become a Catholic. We can ask when they first considered becoming part of the church. Often it is the example of someone else in their life. They were encouraged by seeing someone else striving to faithfully live their faith through the normal ups and downs of life. Or someone else sensed they were searching for something deeper in life or for a church home and invited them to consider our faith. All it took was an invitation. Someone else was like Andrew inviting Peter to meet the Lord and the rest is history.
I share these thoughts with you as we are in the process of planning for another inquiry series this fall. Do you know someone who is searching for that something deeper in life that our faith can offer? Do you know someone who is looking for a church home where they are welcome and can belong? Do you know someone who may already be coming to Sunday Mass but has not taken any steps to become part of the Church? Or maybe someone has a child in 2nd Grade who will be celebrating First Eucharist in the spring and they are beginning to wonder about their own situation. Perhaps all that any of these people need is an invitation to consider the Catholic faith. God can work through the invitation.
We will be hosting initial introductory meetings very soon. Information will be available; questions will be welcomed; there are no costs or additional obligations. If you can be an “Andrew” in another’s life, please invite them to come to these meetings. If you would like us to extend the invitation, please call Leonor Carvajal at 630-295-8351. Or if you would like additional information, please call Leonor. Someone may be waiting for an invitation that you are able to provide.
Congratulations to Mr. Dan Defino (Zaira) and Mr. Terry Neary (Jewell) who have been accepted as Candidates in the Formation Program for Permanent Deacons for our Diocese. They have been attending classes and formation sessions for the past year and will officially declare their Candidacy for Ordination as Permanent Deacons in another month. We promise them the support of our prayers as they continue their formation.
The Catholic Ministries Appeal is the major source of funding for most of our Joliet Diocesan ministries and charities. Appeal funds educate our future priests and permanent deacons, support Catholic Charities, the Family Ministry Office, Religious Education and Catholic Schools Offices, Lay Ministry Formation, Hispanic Ministry, and the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal. Thank you to the 1052 donors who have already responded and have paid $127,986 towards our parish pledges of $176,153. If you have not had an opportunity to make your personal response to the Annual Appeal, please consider doing so as soon as possible. Diocesan ministries and charities depend upon our continued generosity.
Yesterday’s Feast of the Assumption of Mary usually signals the end of the summer for me. Some of our college students have already returned to school. High School fall sports practices in Illinois began last Monday. Some of our high schools begin their classes tomorrow, August 17th. Classes for our Grade School will begin on Wednesday, August 26th. Preparations are well underway with our Religious Education program. Parish life dramatically picks up after the feast of the Assumption. We ask God’s continued blessings on all our parish education ministries.
Let us remember in prayer all those who are traveling at this time of year and our college students returning to their schools. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy