A word from Pope Francis ~ “If you pay attention to the heart, you will find you are close to the Lord and to others.”
Today we celebrate the 16th Sunday in the Ordinary Time of the Year. During this year, our Sunday Gospel readings have been primarily coming from the Gospel of Mark. One of the unique aspects of Mark’s Gospel is its length. Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels, and probably the first one that was written. It is brief and to the point. This weekend we pick up where we left off last Sunday when we saw Jesus sending the disciples out on a mission to announce the Kingdom of God. Today we see them return to report their missionary activity to Jesus. And we see how Jesus responds when his plans are interrupted and things do not turn out as he expected.
Next Sunday we will begin a five week break from our reading of Mark’s Gospel as we begin hearing from John’s Gospel, Chapter 6. This is the great Bread of Life discourse. This will give us an additional opportunity to spend some time reflecting on the great gift of the Eucharist. We return to Mark’s Gospel on September 2nd. Some great things are coming!
Thank you for the very hospitable welcome you extended to Sister Joanne and Sister Sara last weekend. They are Sister of St. Francis Missioners with their Motherhouse in NW Ohio. Their visit and appeal last weekend was arranged through the Diocesan Missionary Outreach Office. Each year we are expected to provide an opportunity for a Missionary Appeal to be made in the parish that benefits a missionary effort outside of the diocese. With all of the parish activity that takes place week after week, we’ve found that the slower pace of summer is an ideal time to welcome a mission speaker to our parish. This year we were asked to welcome Sister Joanne and Sister Sara to our parish for their appeal. As one of the Sisters had family in Chicago, they were very happy to come to our parish. They were deeply touched by the welcome you extended to them and our commitment to tithe 5% of both last week’s and this week’s collection to their cause. We also received a number of the white envelopes from the pew holders with contributions intended solely for their missions. I deeply appreciate your generosity and will be sure to let you know the final amount of our donation to their Missions.
One of the blessings of our church liturgical calendar is that we celebrate the feasts of many of our great saints during the summer. The saints are those heroes of our faith whom we look up to and imitate, who refused to let their lives or personalities be stunted by the circumstances of the world around them. This week we celebrate a number of feasts of major saints – St. James the Apostle (Wednesday) and Sts. Joachim and Anne (Thursday).
St. James, brother of John, is called “the Greater” because he was the first to follow Christ before the other apostle of the same name. He was the first of the Twelve to be martyred, being decapitated by order of Herod Agrippa I, around 44AD. Tradition has it that his remains are buried in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The popular Christian pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago, or the “Way of St. James,” follows many different routes throughout northern Europe ending at the Cathedral bearing his name. He is the patron of pilgrims, of Spain, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.
Sts. Joachim and Anne are the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the grandparents of Jesus. While they are not named in any of the Gospels, their names are found in the Protoevangelium of James, a document dating back to the 2nd century. Their feast gives us a good opportunity to prayerfully remember our own grandparents and the influence they have had in our lives. If they are still with us, give them a call on Thursday or stop by for a visit or even lunch. If they are no longer with us, Thursday may be a good day to visit the cemetery where they are buried. Ask them to pray for us. We are still connected in the Communion of the Saints.
Now that the summer months have arrived, our parish staff normally shifts into our summer hours. We are continuing our practice of closing the parish offices on Fridays during July. One of our staff will be on duty for telephone calls and deliveries. This practice gives our staff some additional time for family activities.
The extra space around us at weekend Mass reminds us that many are away on vacation. We remember in our prayer all those who are traveling. And we thank God for the good weather we experienced this past week. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy