Today we celebrate the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time and continue our chronological reading of St. Mark’s gospel. As Jesus asks his disciples “who do you say that I am?” he uses their response as an opportunity to describe his coming rejection, suffering and death in Jerusalem. This is too much for Peter who vehemently objects and in turn is rebuked by Jesus. Jesus’ response to Peter is clear: if you wish to deny a suffering Messiah, you set yourself in direct opposition to him and his mission. If you are truly a disciple, you will follow your master in word and action, even to death, giving over your life in trust to God who will ultimately save you. The question is ultimately put to us – do we truly understand who we follow and do we truly choose to do so?
Now that we are past the Labor Day holiday, we welcome back all those who have spent the summer weekends away. When I was growing up, my family had a summer home on Delavan Lake in Wisconsin. Summer weekends and holidays were always spent “at the lake.” We were very familiar with the summer Mass schedules of St. Andrew’s church in Delavan and St. Benedict’s church in Fontana. Both parishes became our summer parish as we would go to whichever church offered the next scheduled Sunday Mass. We would return to our home parish of St. John the Baptist in Winfield on the Sunday following Labor Day. I was always amazed to learn what had happened at my home parish during that period we were “at the lake” between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It was easy to lose touch with our home parish while we were at our summer parishes. If this experience sounds familiar, if you have been attending another parish “at the lake” this summer, we are very happy to welcome you back home. All of our summer Sunday bulletins are archived on our parish website – www.stisidoreparish.org. They are a good way to catch up on all of the things that have happened at St. Isidore’s this summer – especially news of our new parochial vicar, Father Clive Otieno, and news of the facilities work we have done over the summer. If your summer Mass attendance took a vacation during the summer months, we are also glad to have you back with us. Autumn and the start of the school year are a good time to recommit ourselves to faithfully joining our parish community for Mass each weekend.
Last Friday we observed the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks on our country. I suspect that we all remember, and will probably always remember, exactly where we were and what we were doing on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. A common reaction at that time was that everyone had to really ask themselves what was important in life. The normal things and the daily drama that we get so excited about were all cast aside. Again this year, the news coverage of this anniversary gives us ample opportunity to reflect on the many ways the events of this day have changed us. I had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial in New York City when I was there shortly after it opened. Being there was a very powerful moment. Our individual experiences these past fourteen years have been varied. For myself, I believe that we have become much more aware of how fragile human life really is. Despite our efforts to control the circumstances around us, none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. The invitation that comes when we remember 9/11 is to not take anything for granted. We need to do the things we need to do and to say the things we need to say now, today, so that there are no regrets tomorrow. Without a doubt, people are far more important than things.
Thank you for your prayers for our young people last weekend who were participating in our St. Isidore Kairos 12. The retreat took place at the Carmelite Retreat Center in Darien over the Labor Day weekend (Friday to Monday evenings). We were able to continue our practice of providing those praying for our young people here at our weekend Masses to have an opportunity to sign the prayer banner we had in the church narthex. Fathers Matt and Clive brought that banner to the retreat center on Sunday evening when they joined with us for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The retreatants were deeply touched when they saw the many names of those who were praying for them back home while they were away. It was a visible reminder that even through they were away from home on Kairos, they were still connected to our parish community.
Kairos 12 was truly a wonderful experience, especially since we are able to offer it through our parish. Kairos is a very strong program in our Catholic High Schools and several parishes in our diocese have tried to provide it for their public high school students, but with little success. David Heimann, director of Connect Youth Ministries, was able to do just that with the help of several adult volunteers and teen leaders. Thank you to David for having the vision to bring Kairos to our parish and lead us through our first 12 Kairos retreats. Thank you also to Fathers Matt and Clive who covered most of the Masses in the parish last weekend which permitted me to be with our young people on Kairos 12. Our next retreat – St. Isidore Kairos 13 – will be held over February 12-15, 2016. Presidents’ Day weekend gives us an ideal time to offer this 4-day retreat.
Many opportunities for personal growth in our faith are beginning in our parish. Details can be found elsewhere in our bulletin. It is wonderful to see so much activity all around us. The summer with its slower pace is clearly gone. It is good to be in such an alive and exciting time of year. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy