A word from Pope Francis ~ “The holy anxiety for the Gospel is the only anxiety that gives peace.”
As our community gathers this weekend, we celebrate the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, continue our observance of Respect Life month and conduct our annual “Stewardship as a Way of Life” recommitment. This weekend’s Gospel passage follows immediately on the end of last Sunday’s passage where Jesus stated that only those who accept the Kingdom of God like a child (with a sense of total dependence) will enter it. Mark continues Jesus’ teaching with an encounter with a rich young man who has since his youth been very faithful in keeping the commandments. When Jesus challenges him to let go of his possessions and share them with those in greater need, the young man turns away. The values of our world – wealth, power and status – do not put one on the fast track to the Kingdom. Again, we need to accept the Kingdom of God like a child – one who has no status and no rights, and is totally dependent upon on others for life and sustenance. We enter the Kingdom of God not by entitlement (good actions, material riches, prestige or power) but by total surrender and dependence upon God alone. For us it is impossible, but not for God!
We continue our observance of Respect Life Month with this year’s theme “Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent.” Forty-six years ago the Catholic bishops in the United States designated October as Respect Life Month. Throughout this month, we are called in a special way to reflect on the gift of human life, the threats against it and how we can protect all persons from conception through natural death. Tonight, Father Josh Miller, our former Parochial Vicar and now pastor at St. Charles Borromeo parish in Bensenville, returns to speak on “Our Final Hours – What does the Church teach about end of life issues?” His talk is sponsored by the St. Isidore Pro-Life Action Ministry and will take place in the Chapel from 6:30-8:30pm. Another one of the Respect Life initiatives of our parish begun a few years ago is our Expecting Parents’ Prayer List. It is normally 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 an opportunity to support our expecting parents with our prayers.
Each autumn we conduct our annual “Stewardship as a Way of Life” renewal process and commitment weekend. Last weekend we had on display the various ministries of our parish and invited everyone to Taste and See at least one ministry they may have never considered before. Today’s Gospel of the rich young man, who while very faithful in keeping the commandments since his youth, failed to see his possessions as gifts from God and could not share them in gratitude with those in greater need. This encounter challenges us to be disciples who are filled with gratitude and can live a life of total surrender and dependence upon God alone. We are also challenged to respond to God’s desires that we be faithful stewards of the gifts God has generously given to us. This Gospel provides us with a wonderful opportunity for us to hold our commitment weekend this weekend. We are committing to all three aspects of Stewardship – Time, Talent and Treasure – on the same weekend. Our recommitment materials were mailed to arrive in each parishioner’s home last week.
As Catholic Christians, we believe that everything we have is God’s gift to us. All that we have and are is a gift from God who loves us more than we can ever understand. We can receive God’s gifts with open hands and say ‘thank you,” or respond with closed fists and claim God’s gifts as “mine!” Whatever our response, God’s gifts continue to flow. If we receive them with open, grateful hands, God’s gifts can flow through us and bless those around us. Our call is to gratefully receive God’s gifts with open hands, let them bless us and then flow through us to bless others. We may have begun life as babies with clenched fists claiming everything is “Mine!” But our call is to become grateful stewards of everything we receive and to share them. Today we have an opportunity to take the next step in living our lives as grateful stewards and recommit ourselves to sharing!
Congratulations to parishioner Hung Nguyen and his Permanent Diaconate Program classmates (Class of 2020), who received the Ministry of Lector at a Mass celebrated at Holy Spirit parish last Saturday by Bishop Conlon. Receiving this ministry is one of the steps he takes in preparation for his ordination as a deacon. We promise him the support of our prayers as he continues his formation. .
Next Sunday we will have the opportunity to participate in the annual World Mission Sunday – Society for the Propagation of the Faith appeal. This is one of eleven special appeals in our Diocese over the course of the year. Funds collected through this appeal support the work of missioners throughout the world. The World Mission Sunday appeal is an excellent opportunity for us to support the needs of the larger church beyond our own parish and Diocese. We will tithe 5% of next Sunday’s collection to this appeal. Please add the additional amount to your regular offering. As always, thank you for your generous support.
Coming up – our Autumn celebration of a special Mass of the Anointing of the Sick on Saturday, October 27th at 11:00am in the church. 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. It is good to celebrate this Mass during Respect Life Month because the care we give our elderly and sick members is another expression of our Respect Life values.
Cooler temperatures are coming our way as the autumn season settles upon us. Let’s make it a point to notice the beauty of this season and be grateful – it 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