A word from Pope Francis ~ “The style of the good God is not to produce a spectacle: God acts in humility.”
Today we continue our celebration of Christmas with the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. This feast is celebrated on the church calendar in our country on the Sunday following January 1st. The traditional date for this feast is the 12th day of Christmas, January 6th – this Wednesday. The feast of the Magi or the Three Kings commemorates the Lord’s first manifestation to people outside of the Jewish people. The Magi were foreigners, Persians and astrologers. And as foreigners, they were not included in God’s original covenant with Abraham and the Jewish people. Their presence at Jesus’ birth hints at one aspect of his ultimate mission of bringing salvation to all peoples. Fortunately, that also includes us.
We also celebrate today the first Sunday of the New Year, 2021. With all that has happened in 2020, I suspect that most of us were very happy to see the old year end on Thursday night and a new year dawn on Friday. Hopefully, this new beginning gives us a fresh, new start with many new opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. So many of the recent “2020 Year in Pictures” segments in the newspapers and periodicals featured images of human suffering and pain, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of special relationship through the quarantines, the social unrest and violence over the summer and the divisions in our nation following the long and drawn out presidential election. These images call us back to the basics, to the things that really matter. Family and faith are at the head of that list of things that really matter. Also high on the list are the relationships that sustain us and give us life. The very different Christmas of 2020 has reminded us of how connected we really are and the importance of maintaining those relationships. As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more available, we can live in the hope that our faith, which gives us direction and purpose, and our relationships, which give us life, guide everything we do.
I was surprised to hear that our livestreamed Christmas Masses were accessed worldwide! Many families who were not able to join us in person or even be together in person, joined together for a particular Mass from many different locations throughout the country and even internationally. With our new video equipment and cameras, we are now able to livestream to both our parish Facebook page and our parish website. Each Mass is also saved to our parish website and can be accessed later if the particular Mass time is not convenient for a family. If I had to name a blessing that came out of the 2020 pandemic, it has to be our ability to upgrade and improve our livestreaming abilities.
Next Sunday is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus’ Baptism was the inauguration of his mission in our world, his acceptance of his vocation. This is a good opportunity for us to focus on church vocations – those that arise from Baptism as well as those that are lived in the diaconate, priesthood and religious life. We now have the new 2021 Joliet Seminarian poster. It is displayed in the church narthex, our school and throughout our parish campus. The poster highlights the fact that our diocesan seminarians come from parishes much like our own.
Next Sunday, January 10th, is the 39th anniversary of the death of Bishop Romeo Blanchette, the second Bishop of our Diocese of Joliet. Tuesday, December 22nd marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Bishop Joseph L. Imesch, the third Bishop of Joliet. These anniversaries of the deaths of bishops who have served our diocese and who many of us may remember invite us to likewise prayerfully remember the priests and deacons of our Diocese who died during 2020. We prayerfully remember Bishops Blanchette and Imesch on their anniversaries as well as each of the priests and deacons who have died this past year.
Finally, I want to thank all of you, the members of our St. Isidore parish family for your continued support of our many, many parish ministries and activities. We have tried as much as possible to maintain our outreach ministries during this past year. We were required to “think outside of the box” to consider ways to keep these ministries in mind. I also want to thank you for your faithful financial support. With us being totally closed to in-person Masses for three months and with our present in-person limitations, our Sunday offerings have taken a major hit. Thank you to all who have gone out of their way to maintain their financial commitments to our parish. Without your continued support, we would not be here today. Together, we will make it through this pandemic and continue to be a beacon of God’s presence in our community.
Now that we have said goodbye to 2020 and begun the New Year, 2021, we look to the future with hope. We pray that God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy