A word from Pope Francis ~ “The abandonment and sufferings of the Servant of the Lord, even unto death, prove so fruitful that they bring redemption and salvation to many.”
This weekend, as we celebrate the 29th Sunday in the Ordinary Time of the Year, our Gospel reading gives us an embarrassing moment for the sons of Zebedee – James and John. They approach Jesus on the side and ask him for the highest places of glory in his kingdom. In today’s account from Mark’s Gospel, the brothers approach Jesus themselves while in a similar account in Matthew and Luke, their mother intercedes on their behalf. Either way, it is an embarrassing moment as their personal ambitions are made known.
Immediately preceding this Gospel, Jesus declares for the third and last time that he must suffer, die (like the servant in Isaiah), and rise. Now, as he nears the end of his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, he knows the time has come to fulfill the most difficult part of his mission. James and John, more concerned with their personal ambitions for glory, ask Jesus for the top places of honor in his kingdom. He tells them bluntly that they do not realize what they are asking. True glory comes to those willing to embrace the cost of doing God’s will – those willing to share in Jesus’ suffer for others.
The reaction of anger and resentment among the rest of the disciples, while fully understandable, suggests that they also fail to grasp that the way to glory in Jesus’ kingdom is the cross. Jesus takes the moment to explain where true greatness is found – taking the place of the servant and freely giving everything as needed. He came to serve and to give.
We were very happy to receive word from the Diocese adjusting some of the COVID precautions that have been in place allowing us to gather for in-person worship – especially the removal of the prohibition on singing. Our parish Director of Music, Dr. Anne Sinclair shared that news at each of our Masses last weekend. She also challenged us to embrace our roll as the congregation to be the “primary choir” at each Mass. Thank you for your enthusiastic response to Dr. Anne’s challenge. It was awesome to hear the melodies of our sung prayer fill our worship space last weekend. Let’s be sure to maintain that enthusiasm.
With October being Respect Life Month, we have several opportunities in our parish to put our Respect Life values into practice. One of our Respect Life ministries is our “EngagedCouples Prayer List” and our “Expecting Couple’s Prayer List.” We support our couples preparing for marriage and our expecting couples with prayer as they face these significant times of change in their lives. Another one of our Respect Life ministries is the Baby Bottles for Life, sponsored by our Knights of Columbus council. If you still have a baby bottle, please bring it back before the end of the month. Another one of our Respect Life ministries includes our various efforts to feed the hungry. We just concluded a very successful collection for Thanksgiving Meal boxes. Through your generosity, we surpassed the goal set for this year’s program. Your food donations to the Neighborhood Food Pantries is another opportunity. Baskets for your weekly donations are at the north end of the Narthex. Proceeds from the Organic Garden were also delivered to the Neighborhood Food Pantries. While current COVID precautions prevent us from resuming our on-site PADS ministry to the homeless in our area, our PADS volunteers regularly meet to prepare meals that are delivered to our homeless neighbors.
Next Sunday is World Mission Sunday. Along with the other parishes in our diocese, we will have the opportunity to participate in the annual World Mission Sunday appeal. This is one of twelve special appeals in our Diocese over the course of the year. Funds donated through this appeal support the work of missioners throughout the world. It is an excellent opportunity for us to support the needs of the larger church beyond our own parish and Diocese. We can respond to this appeal with the pink envelopes included in the packets mailed to our homes, with an on-line donation through our parish website, or with one of the white envelopes in the holders in each pew. As always, thank you for your generous support.
Recently some of our Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist have shared a concern with me. They have observed some members of our community receive the Eucharist at communion time and then carry the host with them as they return to their seat. Our current practice with the COVID precautions is to receive the host in our hand, step to the side, lower our face mask, consume the host and then return to our seat via the side aisle. Please do not carry the host with you back to your seat. Please consume the host immediately at the communion stations after you take a few steps to the side. If there is someone with you who has difficulty approaching the communion stations, please alert one of the ushers and they will have the communion minister come to them.
The Feast of All Soul’s (November 2nd) falls on the first Tuesday of November this year and will be celebrated in two weeks. Our parish Memorial Book of the Dead is now available in the Narthex of the Church. You are invited to add the names of your personal beloved dead. They will be remembered on All Soul’s Day, especially at our Parish Memorial Mass that evening at 7:00pm, and throughout the month of November.
It seems that the autumn colors are surrounding us in glory. The cooler weather at the end of last week has brought out the best in our fall foliage. God’s hand is apparent all around us. Let us take time to notice the beauty. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy