FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
A word from Pope Francis ~ “Often it is better simply to slow down, to put aside our eagerness in order to see and listen to others, to stop rushing from one thing to another and to remain with someone who has faltered along the way.”
Besides this being Valentine’s Day weekend and Presidents’ Day weekend, we celebrate the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. With our Easter celebration coming later this year on April 12th, Ash Wednesday is not observed until February 26th. This gives us a longer period of Ordinary Time during the January/February months of this year. As we work our way through Matthew’s Gospel this year, we find ourselves in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. After Jesus describes his disciples as salt and light, he continues his sermon by explaining how we are to understand his teaching. He has come not to abolish the law but to bring it to fulfillment. Jesus could well reiterate this statement when his later actions seem to negate the convictions of his Jewish contemporaries on keeping God’s law. He eats with sinners (9:11), cures on the Sabbath (12:7-13), and does not enforce the traditions of the elders on his disciples (12:1-8; 15:2). Yet Jesus’ words and his actions show that he is not in conflict with the law itself, but with how it is being interpreted. Far from abolishing the law, Jesus’ teaching goes deeper, moving us from external behavior to the righteous heart that motivates action.
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, values and teachings a part of our lives more and more each day. He knew it would not be easy for us to do that. So during the Farewell Discourse at the Last Supper, he promised us 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 make his teachings the center of our lives – Love God with everything we’ve got. Love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Forgive, if we 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. Since we can’t do this on our own, 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.
With Ash Wednesday coming on February 26th, our Kick-Off date of the 2020 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal is taking place this weekend at all Masses. The in-pew Commitment Weekend will take place next weekend. The 2020 CMAA theme is, “Be Kind and Merciful.” We have received a short video highlighting the importance of the CMAA in funding the various ministries of our diocese and will show that video at the beginning of each Mass this weekend. Our parish goal for the 2020 CMAA is $173,800. The diocesan goal for the Appeal is $8.2 million. Please come prepared to make your In-pew Commitment to the 2020 CMAA next weekend.
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