A word from Pope Francis ~ “Let us never place conditions on God! Entrusting ourselves to the Lord means entering into his plans without demanding anything.”
We continue to deal with the day to day situations of the coronavirus pandemic. For the most part, our weekend Masses have been taking place as best as can be expected. We have dealt with a few hick-ups with reservations and seating at some of our Masses. Each Monday our senior staff meets to review the weekend and learn from anything unexpected that came up. Thank you to everyone who has taken these baby steps with us. As I have mentioned before, if anyone is uncomfortable gathering in a larger group for Mass (even with social distancing and face masks), please stay home and join us for our live-streamed Masses at 11:00am and 1:00pm (Spanish). We will continue providing this service until such time as we can all gather together without any worries.
We are in the midst of rescheduling sacramental celebrations that were postponed due to the shutdown we experienced. As we have all seen as we dealt with the loss of our normal routines, restrictions change almost daily. We are re-scheduling and celebrating baptisms that were postponed, weddings are taking place (on a smaller scale), First Communion celebrations have been scheduled and we await word from the diocese as to when a bishop can join as for our Confirmation celebrations (most likely in October). Thank you for your patience as we deal with the health and safety restrictions that we must deal with.
As we celebrate the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time this weekend, we continue our reading of the Gospel of St. Matthew in our Sunday Gospel readings. Week by week, we have been seeing Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus’ ministry unfold before us. Last week we began Jesus’ discourse of parables and heard the parable of the Sower and the Seed. This week we hear three more parables describing the Kingdom of Heaven. Since the Kingdom of Heaven is a mystery so multi-faceted that there is always more to understand, Jesus presents three parables that offer sketches of God’s Kingdom. The parables do not give a definition, but present images or pictures that are windows into the mystery of the Kingdom. Three parables – the field with wheat and weeds, the mustard seed, and yeast – invite us to consider different dimensions of the Kingdom.
One of the blessings of our church liturgical calendar is that we celebrate the feasts of many of our great saints during the summer. The saints are those heroes of our faith whom we look up to and imitate, who refused to let their lives or personalities be stunted by the circumstances of the world around them. This week we celebrate two feasts of major saints – St. Mary Magdalene (Wednesday) and St. James the Apostle (Saturday).
St. Mary Magdalene was a Jewish woman who came from the town of Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. She traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion and was present at his burial. She is mentioned by name in the Gospels more than most of the apostles and more than any other non-family woman in the Gospels. All four Gospels identify her, either alone or as a member of a larger group of women which includes Jesus’ mother, as the first to witness the empty tomb and the first to witness Jesus’ resurrection. We look to her as a symbol or repentance and a reminder that, no matter what our past, God always considers the present moment and gives us the grace to respond as disciples of Jesus.
St. James, brother of John, is called “the Greater” because he followed Christ before the other apostle of the same name. He was the first of the Twelve to be martyred, being decapitated by order of Herod Agrippa I, around 44AD. Tradition has it that his remains are buried in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The popular Christian pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago, or the “Way of St. James,” follows many different routes throughout northern Europe ending at the Cathedral bearing his name. He is the patron of pilgrims, of Spain, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.
Thank you to all who have already pledged to the 2020 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. Especially in these difficult financial times, our pledges support the work of the diocese, our larger church. Our CMAA goal this year is $173,800. Thank you to the 808 households who have pledged $172,251 towards our 2020 goal. That means that we are just $1,549 shy of reaching our 2020 goal in pledges! And of the amount that has been pledged, we have already paid $123,539 towards those pledges. The diocese is currently contacting households who contributed to the Appeal last year, but have not yet contributed this year. If you haven’t had a chance to respond to the 2020 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, please join me and make your pledge as soon as possible. And please be sure to continue your monthly payments to your pledge. Your generosity is deeply appreciated and helps us meet our obligations to the larger Diocesan church.
Many other things are taking place in our parish. Please check the online weekly bulletin posted on our website, the emailed Flocknotes and other notices posted on our parish Facebook page. As always, I pray that God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Fr. Jim Murphy