On this middle Sunday of the month, we celebrate the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time and continue our observance of Respect Life month. As we gather this weekend, we hear in the Gospel that the tension between Jesus and the religious leaders continues to escalate to the near breaking point. Matthew’s inclusion of this parable of the wedding feast at this point in his Gospel helps him make sense of the situations faced by the church at the time he wrote his gospel. Both the Temple and the city of Jerusalem had already been destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. Matthew interpreted this as the consequence of Israel’s rejection of Jesus and their hostility and violence toward the Christian community. Many were asking what direction to take now that the Temple and Jerusalem were in ruins. Matthew’s answer – become a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth! As we know and profess – Jesus is the way, the truth and the life! Sadly, we will see the Pharisees response to Jesus and their repeated attempts to trap him in next week’s Gospel.
Forty-five years ago the Catholic bishops in the United States designated October as Respect Life Month. Throughout October, Catholics are called to reflect on the gift of human life, the threats against it and how we can protect all persons from conception through natural death. This year’s theme is “Be Not Afraid.” It was inspired by Jesus own words, “Behold, I am with you always until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). The Lord’s faithful presence among us can help us overcome our fears and truly be a people who respect life from conception through natural death.
One of the Respect Life initiatives of our parish is our Expecting Parents’ Prayer List. It is only right that we should support our expecting parents with our prayers. It is normally posted on the bulletin boards and printed in the bulletin. Any couple who is expecting the birth of a child can have their names and due date added to this prayer list by calling the parish office. This gives us a wonderful opportunity to support our expecting parents with our prayers. We also have many additional opportunities to volunteer in ministries that promote our Catholic Respect Life values – ministries like our Eucharistic Ministers to our nursing homes, providing shelter for the homeless through PADS, Baby Bottles for Life, our food pantry opportunities, to name but a few. We respect human life from conception through natural death through our prayers and in our actions.
This weekend at our 5:00pm Saturday Mass we celebrate a significant moment with those who are participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) process this year. We formally welcome those who are becoming Catechumens and those who are becoming Candidates for Full Communion with the Catholic Church. Non-baptized adults are becoming Catechumens and prepare for their full initiation into the Church through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at Easter 2018. Previously baptized adults are becoming Candidates and will prepare for their full Christian Initiation in the Catholic Church. We promise them the support of our prayers as they continue their faith journeys with us.
Next Friday evening, October 20th, Bishop Joseph Siegel will be with us to celebrate a Mass at 7:30pm during which our parishioners Dan Defino & Terry Neary, along with their classmates in the permanent diaconate program of our diocese will receive the Ministry of Acolyte. This is one of the final steps they take in preparation for their ordination as deacons (August 2018). We are very happy to host this Mass for the permanent diaconate program in our diocese. All are welcome to join us for this Mass on Friday evening. Congratulations to Dan, Terry and their classmates on receiving the Ministry of Acolyte – the next step in their formation program. We promise them the support of our prayers.
I mentioned here a few weeks ago that we regularly receive requests to provide the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick following a Sunday Mass for someone who may be facing surgery later in the week. Or another may be struggling with an illness of one kind or another. Since the Holy Oils are stored in the cabinet near the baptism font, we are happy to provide the sacrament at that moment.
Another way to offer the Sacrament of the Sick is to celebrate it as a larger community within a specific Mass. In some of my previous parishes, we scheduled a special Mass on a Saturday morning in the autumn and during Lent during which we celebrated the Sacrament of the Sick. The time seems right to introduce that practice here at St. Isidore. 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. Please note the date – Saturday, November 11th at 11am. Please extend the invitation to those who may be homebound and in need of the Sacrament of the Sick.
Last week’s cooler temperatures have brought out the autumn colors. The beauty all around us is the Lord’s gift to us in this present moment. As always, we pray that God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy