A word from Pope Francis ~ “Lord, teach us to step outside ourselves. Teach us to go into the streets and manifest your love.”
As we celebrate the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we continue our chronological reading of St. Luke’s gospel. Over the past four Sundays, we have seen Jesus making his way to Jerusalem and his ultimate destiny. As he goes he speaks to the crowds that are traveling with him of the cost we will have to pay to be his disciple. He summarizes with three specific costs of being his disciple. First, we should show an absolute, unwavering preference for Jesus above all others – even family members. The second requirement of discipleship is to carry one’s cross and come after Jesus. We must be prepared to do this. Only those who prefer Jesus above all others will be prepared to endure the suffering that discipleship demands. Finally, we cannot let anything else get in the way, including possessions or positions of honor or power. Quite a challenge!
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 loose 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. Wednesday we observe the 18th 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 eighteen 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 fourth 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. 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 Wednesday. 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