A word from St. Pope John Paul II ~ “The life of a teacher, as I know from personal experience, is very challenging and demanding, but it is also profoundly satisfying. It is more than a job, for it is rooted in our deepest convictions and values.”
On this first weekend in September, this Labor Day holiday weekend, we celebrate the 22nd Sunday in the season of the Ordinary Time of the Year. After our five week break hearing the great Bread of Life discourse in John’s Gospel, we return to our chronological reading of St. Mark’s gospel. We pick up where we left off five weeks ago. Mark is the primary gospel in the cycle for this year and we will be reading from Mark from now until the end of the church year in November. We return to it at a point of a dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees and some Scribes. These disputes between Jesus and the religious leaders occur with some frequency in the gospel accounts. In this incident the Pharisees and some Scribes were questioning Jesus and his disciples’ faithfulness to the Jewish law. Jesus sees through their hypocrisy in trying to test him and responds in the same way he dealt with their previous challenges. It is good to be back with Mark.
Labor Day is filled with many different memories and meanings. For many of us it signals the end of summer and all that is associated with summer. It is the time for the last fling outdoors. It is a time for a BBQ with family and friends. It is the weekend the summer home is closed. It is the weekend the boat is pulled out of the water and placed in storage. It is the time for moving from one season of the year to another. The holiday itself, “Labor Day,” gives us a chance to take a day off from work and reflect on the meaning of labor.
Labor, or the ability to work in productive and meaningful ways, is something we can easily take for granted. Even though we are now ten years after the 2008 economic downturn, our economy still struggles to recover from the effects of that event. Empty store fronts in prime retail spaces and malls are depressing reminders of shattered dreams. This weekend we pause to thank God for the ways in which we participate in the act of creation through significant and fruitful work. And we pray for those who are looking for work at this time in their lives and for our guests at PADS on Monday evening. As is our custom on civil holidays, we will celebrate Mass at 9:00am on Labor Day. Our school and parish offices will be closed in observance of the holiday.
When our parish and school staff met for our Morning of Reflection on August 21st, our presenter Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson noted that it is a tough time to be a Catholic. He was referring to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report detailing allegations of child abuse over the past 70 years within dioceses in the state of Pennsylvania. The numbers are staggering. The violations caused by priests and bishops placed in positions of trust within our church to victims and people of faith are inexcusable. Our feelings of anger, betrayal, humiliation, pain and disgust vary from person to person. Even though it can take time for each of us to work through our individual reactions and feelings, those feelings are very real. Last week, we published Bishop Conlon’s letter in the bulletin. We join him in praying for the victims – for their healing and our healing. I join with the bishop in apologizing for the harm and betrayal caused by those who were charged with the care of our parishes. We also take every step possible described by the bishop to provide a safe place in our parish for our children and young people. Whatever steps we need to take, we will take.
Our Knights of Columbus Father John Guiney Council is hosting a “Blue Mass” at our 10:00am Mass next Sunday, September 9th. All police, firefighters, Sheriff’s deputies, Emergency Medical Technicians and rescue workers of all faiths are invited to attend and will have a reserved place to sit during the Mass. The “Blue Mass” takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel. The “Blue Mass” serves as a remembrance for all the first responders who died during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our country. It is very appropriate that we honor our local first responder heroes as we commemorate the 9/11 anniversary next Tuesday. Local police and fire departments have been individually invited. All first responders serving in departments in the larger area are most welcome to attend. A luncheon and refreshments will be served following the Mass in the Ministry Center.
Also next weekend, we are very happy to welcome John Donahue-Grossman back to our parish as he will present a Special Fall Parish Mission. He will speak at each of our weekend Masses and then continue with the Fall Mission on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings at 7:30pm in the Main Church. His thoughts on our call to be missionary disciples will lead into the Be My Witness program beginning in October. Please see the additional information printed elsewhere in the bulletin.
May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy