Besides this being Valentine’s Day weekend, today we celebrate the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. With our Easter celebration coming very late this year on April 21st, Ash Wednesday is not observed until March 6th. This gives us a longer period of Ordinary Time during the January/February months of this year. As we work our way through Luke’s Gospel this year, we hear today a different version of the Beatitudes. Matthew places our familiar version of the Beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus goes up, sits down and his disciples gather around him. Luke places his version of the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Plane – level ground. Jesus comes down, stands on a stretch of level ground, and speaks within earshot of many disciples, including foreigners from Tyre and Sidon. He continues to invite anyone who will listen to him to experience the blessings of God’s Reign.
This is the week and Saturday is the date – our St. Isidore Dinner Dance and Silent Auction – “The Greatest Show” – will take place this Saturday, February 23rd at The Empress Banquets on Lake Street in Addison. The planning committees have been working hard over the past few months to make this a wonderful mid-winter evening spent with each other while supporting the educational ministries of our St. Isidore Parish Grade School. Last minute ticket information is available elsewhere in the bulletin.
I recently received word from Mrs. Cyndi Collins, Principal of St. Isidore Catholic School for the past 15 years, of her intention to retire at the end of this school year. While my reactions are mixed, I wish Cyndi well as she joins her recently retired husband in a new season of their marriage. She will be greatly missed.
Again this weekend, we are printing a letter in the bulletin explaining the steps that we will take to find a new principal for St. Isidore Grade School and to ensure a seamless leadership transition. One very important step is to elicit the ideas of faculty and staff members, parents and parishioners regarding the leadership qualities that are necessary to address the present and future needs of our school. The Catholic Schools Office has designed a brief online survey that will help us identify the necessary qualities we need in our new principal. Please refer to this letter for instructions on how to access the on-line community survey and provide your input as we begin this important task of finding a new principal to lead our parish grade school. I am working with the Catholic Schools Office in forming a Search Committee to assist us in the task before us. Your continued prayers for all are greatly appreciated.
Three weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to our Confirmation Candidates and their sponsors at their mid-season formation meeting. My topic was “Our Call to be Disciples and Our Need of the Spirit.” As I was gathering my thoughts, I stumbled upon an article that said that Catholics do not consider themselves to be disciples of the Lord! That thought struck me as our Confirmation preparation centers on the person of Jesus, his invitation to us to be his disciples, and our life-long task of responding to his call to make his ideals, his values, his teachings a part of our lives more and more each day. He knew it would not be easy for us to do that. So he promised us during the Farewell Discourse at the Last Supper that he would send us another advocate to be our strength and our guide. That advocate is none other than the Holy Spirit! Jesus promised us the very same Spirit that descended upon him visibly at his Baptism and strengthened him throughout his ministry to be our strength. This advocate would help us to remember all that he taught us as we shape our lives to be more like his day by day.
A disciple seeks to make the priorities, values and ideals of the Master our priorities, our values and our ideals as we seek to follow him. For Jesus, prayer (both as an individual and as a community) was a priority in his life. Providing service to anyone in need was another priority (“Whatever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did to me.”). As his disciples, we must make his priorities our priorities more and more each day. And then his teachings – Love God with everything you’ve got. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Forgive, if you want to be forgiven. Do not judge.
As disciples, making his way of life our way of life is a life-long task. Taking his teachings to heart and putting them into practice in our lives is a life-long task. We depend upon his promised gift of the Spirit to make this happen. Our call as disciples is to become more like the Lord day by day. As a community we can inspire each other in our common task. I hope that this has helped us to see that we really are disciples of the Lord.
The Presidents Day holiday on Monday provides us with a welcome change of pace. Our parish office will be closed for the day and reopen on Tuesday morning. Enjoy the holiday.
May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy