A word from Pope Francis ~ “Let us not forget: if we are to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, our lives must bear witness to what we preach.”
As we celebrate the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we continue our chronological reading of St. Mark’s gospel. Our current chapter, Chapter 7, represents a shift in Jesus’ public ministry. Up to this point, he has taught and healed among his own people. In this chapter he makes a definite turn toward the Gentiles. Mark tells us that Jesus went into the district of the Decapolis, a group of ten cities in Gentile lands. As Jesus heals the deaf and mute man (someone who was a foreigner), we realize that even the deaf hear the message of the dawning Kingdom of God and even the mute can proclaim it. God’s plan for human wholeness extends to Gentile as well as Jew.
We are very happy to welcome John Donahue-Grossman back to our parish this weekend as he presents a Special Fall Parish Mission. He is speaking at each of our weekend Masses and then will 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 lead us into the Be My Witness experience beginning in October. Please see the additional information printed elsewhere in the bulletin.
Now that we are past the Labor Day holiday, we welcome back all those who have spent the summer weekends away. When I was growing up, my family had a summer home on Delavan Lake in Wisconsin. Summer weekends and holidays were always spent “at the lake.” We were very familiar with the summer Mass schedules of both St. Andrew’s church in Delavan and St. Benedict’s church in Fontana. Both parishes became our summer parish as we would go to whichever church offered the next scheduled Sunday Mass. We would return to our home parish of St. John the Baptist in Winfield on the Sunday following Labor Day. I was always amazed to learn what had happened at my home parish during that period we were “at the lake” between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It was easy to lose touch with our home parish while we were at our summer parishes. If this experience sounds familiar, if you have been attending another parish “at the lake” this summer, we are very happy to welcome you back home. If your summer Mass attendance took a vacation during the summer months, we are also glad to have you back with us. Autumn and the start of the school year are a good time to recommit ourselves to faithfully joining our parish community for Mass each weekend.
I suspect that we all remember, and will probably always remember, exactly where we were and what we were doing on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Tuesday we observe the 17th anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks on our country. A common reaction at that time was that everyone had to really ask themselves what was most important in life. The normal things that we get so excited about were all cast aside. Again this year, the news coverage of this anniversary gives us ample opportunity to reflect on the many ways the events of this day have changed us. Our individual experiences these past seventeen years have been varied. For myself, I believe that we have become much more aware of how fragile human life really is. Despite our efforts to control the circumstances around us, none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. The invitation that comes in remembering 9-11 is to not take anything for granted and to intentionally celebrate the gift of today. We need to do the things we need to do and to say the things we need to say now, today, so that there are no regrets tomorrow. Without a doubt, people are far more important than things.
Thank you to our Knights of Columbus Father John Guiney Council for hosting a “Blue Mass” at our 10:00am Mass today. This is the third year we have done this. The “Blue Mass” takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel. The “Blue Mass” also serves as a remembrance of all the first responders who died during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our country. A wise person once said that doing something for the first time is a novelty. Doing it a second time makes it a tradition. It is very appropriate that we honor our local first responder heroes as we commemorate the 9/11 anniversary on Tuesday. Thank you to all police, firefighters, Sheriff’s deputies, Emergency Medical Technicians and rescue workers who have joined with us today. We thank you for your service and ask God’s continued blessings upon you and those who were unable to be with us today. And thank you to our Knights of Columbus Council for introducing this “tradition” in our community.
It is wonderful to see so much activity all around us. The summer with its slower pace is clearly gone. It is good to be in such an alive and exciting time of year. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy