As we celebrate the 3rd 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 10th. We begin our year-long reading of Luke’s Gospel today, beginning with Luke’s prologue and introduction. We learn that “many have undertaken” to tell the story of Jesus and that Luke has done due diligence in compiling a narrative that’s orderly and accurate. As Jesus returns to his hometown, Nazareth, and attends the synagogue on the Sabbath, we hear Jesus’ inaugural proclamation of the Good News. Jesus boldly declares that in him, on that day, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled. Over the next several months, Luke’s portrait of Jesus will unfold before us as we work our way through this Gospel, section by section.
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 in early May.
We conclude the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity tomorrow, January 25th, on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. As Paul was the great Apostle to the Gentiles, it is fitting that we celebrate the Apostle who brought the Christian faith to those who were outside the initial covenant God made with the Jewish people. Since 1968 we have joined with other Christians throughout the world in praying as the Lord prayed, “that all may be one” (John 17:21). Throughout this past week we have kept the cause of Christian unity before us in our community prayer. It is good to remember that in spite of our differences, there is more that unites us rather than divides us.
We join with the rest of the parishes of our dioceses today in responding to the annual appeal for the Church in Latin America. This is one of eleven extra collections taken up over the course of the year for the support of the needs of the larger church community. It is an important way for Catholics in our country to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters to the south whose pastoral and material needs are great. Thank for your generosity in responding to this appeal.
Looking ahead, we have a wonderful opportunity for coming together during the cold winter months. “The Great Gala 2016” – Dinner Dance and Silent Auction will be held on Saturday, February 27th at Belvedere Events & Banquets on Devon Avenue in Elk Grove Village. Early Bird tickets are available for $75 per person until January 31st. The banquet facility is located next door to the Country Inn and Suites which provides a nice option for those who would like to stay overnight. The Great Gala 2016 begins at 5:30pm Silent Auction bidding, Hors D’Oeuvres and cocktails. Dinner and the Great Live Auction items follow. It promises to be a wonderful mid-winter evening spent with fellow parishioners. Additional information is available elsewhere in the bulletin.
Next Sunday, we begin our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. To help us begin the week, the Grade School choir will join with us at the 8.30am Mass and lead us in prayer. They will continue their celebration of Catholic Schools Week throughout the week and especially at their regular Wednesday School Mass at 8:15am.
Since Easter is coming so early this year (March 27th), Lent begins early as well (Ash Wednesday – February 10th). The Kick-Off date of the Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal is set to happen before Ash Wednesday. In view of that, next Sunday we will have the opportunity to hear about the 2016 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal and the following Sunday, February 6/7 will be our In-pew Sign Up weekend. Many of us have already received the mailing from Bishop Conlon. While we don’t get any “extra credit” for responses before the In-pew Sign Up weekend, early responses can give us a positive boost toward reaching this year’s goal. My pledge was sent in last week!
Once we get past the holidays, January seems to be a very long month. It can seem even longer when the Bears end their season before the playoffs, as they did this year. Even though the days are gradually getting longer, the winter has had a few frigid moments. In a little over a week we begin the shortest month of the year. Can spring be too far off? May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy