A word from Pope Francis ~ “Christ’s cross, embraced with love, never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.”
As we celebrate the 20th Sunday in the Ordinary Time of the Year this weekend, our Scripture readings remind us that being a disciple of Jesus comes at a cost. The road on which Jesus leads us won’t be easy. Divisions will come, even among our closest relationships. Division and controversy accompanies the proclamation of God’s Kingdom. They go hand in hand. The good news – living within the community of Jesus’ disciples assures us that we are not alone in our struggles and provides us the support of other disciples – each other.
One of my favorite “call stories” in the Gospels is the call of the apostle, Peter. John’s Gospel (Chapter 1) tells us that Peter’s brother, Andrew, was originally a disciple of John the Baptist. Once Jesus begins his public ministry, John points his disciples in Jesus’ direction and they begin to follow Jesus. One of the first things that Andrew does after meeting Jesus is to go and get his brother, Peter. He wanted to share with his brother what he had experienced with Jesus. Andrew then brings Peter to meet the Lord. Peter begins his new life of faith with the invitation of his brother, Andrew.
It is amazing how this pattern is repeated in our own day. When I ask engaged couples how they met, many report that a mutual friend introduced them to each other. Someone else imagined some possibilities for them as a couple and then brought them together. God acted through the invitation. Or another example – when I interview potential seminarians for the Vocation Office, I ask when they first considered the priesthood. Many report that they didn’t even think of becoming a priest until someone else suggested the possibility to them. Someone else recognized priestly talent in them and asked if they ever thought of becoming a priest. That question was all that was needed to set the ball in motion. God acted again through the invitation given by another.
The same is often true when someone takes steps to become a Catholic. We can ask when they first considered becoming part of the church. Often it is the example of someone else in their life. They were encouraged by seeing someone else striving to faithfully live their faith through the normal ups and downs of life. Or someone else sensed they were searching for something deeper in life or for a church home and invited them to consider our faith. All it took was an invitation. Someone else was like Andrew inviting Peter to meet the Lord and the rest is history.
I share these thoughts with you as we are in the process of planning for another inquiry series this fall. Do you know someone who is searching for that something deeper in life that our faith can offer? Do you know someone who is looking for a church home where they are welcome and can belong? Do you know someone who may already be coming to Sunday Mass but has not taken any steps to become part of the Church? Or maybe someone has a child in 2nd Grade who will be celebrating First Eucharist in the spring and they are beginning to wonder about their own situation. Perhaps all that any of these people need is an invitation to consider the Catholic faith. God can work through the invitation.
Over the past few weekends, we have been gathering information and answering questions from those who are seeking something deeper in their lives. We will gather a new RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) group soon. The initial sessions are basic, introductory meetings. Information will be available; questions will be welcomed; there are no costs or additional obligations. If you can be an “Andrew” in another’s life, please invite them to come to these meetings. If you would like us to extend the invitation, please call Leonor Carvajal at 630-295-8351. Or if you would like additional information, please call Leonor. Someone may be waiting for an invitation that you are able to provide.
Last Thursday’s Feast of the Assumption usually signals the end of summer for me. Parish life dramatically picks up after this feast as we prepare for the beginning of the school year. Many of our college students have already moved into their dorms. Illinois High School fall sports officially began last week. I am celebrating Mass this morning with the St. Francis High School Girls’ Volleyball teams following their weekend camp. Our St. Isidore Grade School begins the year tomorrow, August 19th, with a School Supply Drop Off/Meet and Greet followed by a half day of school on Tuesday, August 20th. Our Opening School Mass will be at 10:00am on August 20th. Faith Formation classes will begin in just a few weeks. We ask God’s continued blessings on all our parish education ministries.
There really are a few more days of summer. Let’s take advantage of them. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy