On this first weekend of autumn, we celebrate the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. As we continue our sequential reading of Matthew’s Gospel, we move into a section of parables that teach us about the reign or the Kingdom of God. Today’s parable of the landowner and the tenants hired at different times of the day tells us that God’s invitation to each of us comes at different times and in different circumstances. God relates to us as individuals and in individual ways. Each of us are given different opportunities. But whenever the invitation is given, we need to be ready, hear it and respond.
A particular difficulty for many of us who were baptized as infants and have lived in the church all of our lives is to see ourselves as those who were called first and spent the whole day working, only to earn a full days wage like those called at the last hour. We forget that God first called Abraham and his descendants – the Jewish people. Non-Jewish people were not included – at first. When Jesus came, he revealed God’s plan that all are welcome, all are called to life! And that includes us. We actually came on the scene much later! And God’s including us was not our doing at all! It came to us as a gift, just as everything we have is God’s gift to us. We didn’t earn God’s favor and we certainly don’t deserve it. We are blessed by God who loves us more than we can imagine. And it all comes to us as a gift! The worst thing that could happen to us would be to fall into the trap of thinking that God owes me! Rather, the opposite is true – we owe God everything!
I recently came across an interesting thought attributed to Pope Francis – “In certain moments doubts come to everyone. Doubts that touch the faith, in a positive sense, are a sign that we want to know God, Jesus, and the mystery of his love for us better and more deeply.” Pope Francis isn’t the first to realize this truth. Many of the great saints in our past saw their doubts as invitations from God to draw closer! We tend to do the opposite – doubts come and we panic! We back up, withdraw and wonder what we are doing wrong. Doubts can be like warning lights on the dash board of our lives. They remind us that we are limited. They tell us that we don’t have everything figured out or it all together. And they can tell us when we are running on empty! When that happens, what do I do to fill my tank? Do I fill my tank with something fleeting? Or do I take the moment as a “sign to want to know the mystery of His Love more deeply?”
Looking ahead a bit – we have received a number of requests to provide the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick on a regular basis. It is not unusual for someone to tell us after Mass on a Sunday that they are facing a surgery later in the week. Or that they are struggling with an illness of one kind or another. Usually we ask if they would like to be anointed and then move towards the baptism font where the Holy Oils are stored. We keep a copy of the Rite of Anointing in the cabinet with the Holy Oils for those moments.
While it may be good to provide the Sacrament at those moments, others might prefer a scheduled time during which we can celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick as a larger community. In some of my previous parishes, we did just that – we scheduled a special Mass on a Saturday morning in the autumn and during Lent during which we celebrated the Sacrament of the Sick. I have wanted to introduce that practice here at St. Isidore’s for some time now, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself. Now that we are receiving some requests to provide an Anointing Mass, the time seems right. So, after checking the parish calendar, we found a date. On Saturday, November 11th, we will celebrate a special Mass at 11:00am in the main church during which the Sacrament of the Sick will be offered to those who desire to receive it. Anyone who is struggling with a physical, mental or spiritual illness may request to be anointed. All three priests will be present to celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick following the homily. Additional information will be coming as we get closer to the date. But for now, please note the date on your calendars – Saturday, November 11th at 11:00am, a Mass including the Sacrament of the Sick will be offered. We will be looking to schedule another Saturday in the spring, most likely during Lent, when we can celebrate this Sacrament again.
Our parish RCIA group continues its initial meetings today. It is not too late to become a part of this group. If you know someone who is interested in more information about our faith or is looking to complete the Sacraments of Initiation, please invite them or let us know about them.
In the narthex this weekend after all Masses, we will host our Taste and See weekend. Donuts, bagels, and coffee will be available along with display tables highlighting our parish ministries. Please stop to renew or try out a ministry in the parish. Your gifts and talents are needed to sustain the mission of our vibrant community. In preparation for our annual Stewardship Commitment Renewal Weekend — this year with the theme “Lord, Change Our Hearts, Change Our Minds” — you will receive in the mail this week a letter from me inviting your prayerful consideration and participation. Please bring the completed form from the ministries brochure and the commitment envelope to make your commitment to financial support of our parish to Mass next weekend.
Enjoy our new autumn season. Much more is happening at our parish. Additional news can be found elsewhere in our bulletin. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy