This week’s memory verse: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20
  • 1/16 – 1 John 3:16-17
  • 1/17 – 1 John 3:18
  • 1/18 – 2 Corinthians 7:10
  • 1/19 – Romans 12:2
  • 1/20 – Romans 12:1-2
  • 1/21 – 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • 1/22 – Ephesians 5:17

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, I live in Your Kingdom. Grant me constant awareness of that fact and strength to carry out my kingdom work.

Called to live anew!

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

Anew – it is a word we will focus on for years to come. Now is the time for our next great step together, to call people anew to knowing, loving, and serving the Lord and His Holy Church right here at this parish.

How do you recollect time? Most people see time as a linear progression, past, present, and future. We could draw an arrow from one moment in our lives to the next, event to event. Did you know that God sees time differently, that Jesus came to change our conception of time and even place?

That is true. Jesus’ birth marked the start of a new age – the age of the Kingdom. In His Baptism, which we celebrated last week, Jesus marked out our change – how we are to enter His place and time, the Kingdom of God.

For many Christians, the Kingdom is something afar off. We have time. If we are sinning, we can go to confession tomorrow, or next Sunday. If we need to repent and live changed lives, walking the gospel path much more closely and realistically – radically, well we can work on that. That is a false notion. We have our facts wrong. The Kingdom will not come someday but is here now. We are in it, and we are called to live changed now, immediately.

What St. Paul tells us in his writing on baptism is true. We died with Christ in our baptism and so we have been raised with Him to life anew. We are no longer living according to the world’s time and priorities, stumbling from moment to moment, place to place like the lost. Rather, we are living a changed reality in which we have great work to do, Kingdom work. We must set to it now.

Kingdom work comes down to what Jesus showed us at Cana in Galilee. It is about changed perspectives and lives anew.

The changing of water into wine isn’t just a one-off miracle. It is not just a moment along a timeline. It is rather a foreshadowing of the eternal change that comes when the wine is made His blood. It is a foretelling of the way we are changed in Jesus. 

When we share in the Eucharistic moment in a short time, the changing of bread and wine into His body and blood, we literally join with Jesus in His timeless reality. the ever-present Kingdom where we also reside. We receive abundant grace for our work.

Our Kingdom reality is where the Spirit’s gifts, given to each of us in different form and measure, are to be implemented. We are residing in God’s time and place and our mission is an imperative command to declare the Kingdom and invite others into it; to live changed. 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16
  • 1/9 – 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • 1/10 – Psalm 119:18
  • 1/11 – Matthew 18:10-14
  • 1/12 – Habakkuk 2:14
  • 1/13 – 2 Peter 3:14 
  • 1/14 – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • 1/15 – Romans 1:16-17

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, be with me in every situation. Impart Your grace of courage to me that I may spend my after-baptism moments in calling people to life anew in You.

Called to Live Anew

After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying

Anew – it is a word we will focus on for years to come. We together have spent the last decade in a lot of hard work building up this parish, strengthening it, readying it. Now is the time for the next great step, to call people anew to knowing, loving, and serving the Lord and His Holy Church.

Today we are called to situational awareness and the actions we must take.

The gospel passage from St. Luke paints a picture of what occurred on the day of Jesus’ baptism. However, in this account, the discussion between Jesus and John is missing. Also, the actual moment of baptism is missing. We must infer what happened by starting at the after-the-baptism moment.

What we can take from this account is the fact that John baptized a lot of people that day. Jesus, like the rest, stood in line and entered the Jordan to be baptized. Afterward, He, like the rest, filed out of the river and went to the riverbank to pray.

The rest of the gospel focuses on the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God and the revelation of the God as Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit.

This short gospel snippet, about three-quarters of a single sentence, and awareness of our situations, is a call to action for us.

Now imagine that line at the Jordan. Can you picture yourself standing there in line with Jesus? It would be so cool, so excellent to be there with Him. Many were, perhaps not realizing Who stood in line with them.

We are called to be situationally aware, alert wherever we venture. The bank, shows, movies, the supermarket, work, social events, and even theme parks. In many of those places we face the prospect of standing in line. As such, we who are baptized are called to be Jesus in that line. We represent Him and that carries a responsibility to help the people around us find life anew in Jesus.

You know how it is. In line everyone has eyes cast down, perhaps hoping no one will notice them. Let’s just get the task done and get out. We have the power to turn feelings of apartness and separateness into moments with Jesus. Simply, say hello, how are you. Pass a smile and offer a simple blessing – ‘May God bless you today.’ Then let Jesus take over. Try it!

What happens as we stand in line bearing the image of Jesus, or in whatever situation we find ourselves, is the offering of our time to God in accord with our after-the-baptism call. Let us be situationally aware, not in fear and apprehensiveness, not in trepidation, but in the hopefulness and joy of being born anew as we call others to the same newness of life in Jesus.

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

Our celebration of the Christmas, the coming of God among us, His incarnate Being in our midst, is so important it must be celebrated for more than a few days. This season marks God’s chosen moment in which the story of salvation takes a major step forward. So, we must celebrate and set to ongoing work. The story of salvation is a continuous saga. It began with creation, God called us into being so we might belong to Him. The world rejected that call and turned away from God by sin. God would not give up! Salvation is not a once and done offer, and God would not rest until we were His as we hear in our Eucharistic Prayer based on the Canon of St. Basil the Great: “You did not abandon us to the power of death… You came to our help… Again and again You called us into covenant with You… You taught us to hope for salvation… In the fullness of time You sent Your only Son to be our Savior.” 

Jesus’ incarnation is the moment we were drawn permanently close to God in our humble humanity. God took what was broken and deformed and made it holy and beautiful by His unity in human flesh. Flesh that was cursed and apart from God now became one with God. St. Paul is saying something really amazing in Colossians 2:9. He summarizes in ten words the whole mystery of faith – that Jesus is God among us in our flesh. That changes everything. It makes us all capable of being washed free of the worldly choice of sin and one with God, heirs to heaven. All flesh was hallowed in Jesus, each person’s dignity certain. All flesh is given the opportunity to be one with Him if we choose so in faith. Furthermore, Jesus, before His crucifixion, provided for the permanent presence in His flesh and blood which is for His faithful to this very day: Take, eat and drink. This is My body. This is My blood. The totality of Christ is ours for the taking. In it are closer to His divinity and strengthened for our work.

We are in the story of salvation and we have work to do in our evangelism until His return. So, open the door, invite, He awaits.

Welcome to our January 2022 Newsletter and Happy New Year. In the Newsletter we explore the year ahead as we focus on Being a Eucharistic People. We have our upcoming annual meeting and election of parish officers (time to get involved). We give thanks for so many blessings brought about through your charity and our common work. It is time to prep for the SouperBowl of Caring (the soup pot is out). We reflect on the past year – our Centenary – and we celebrate. Check out the Newsletter for all that and more – including Music Scholarship Sunday and the Return of the BASKET SOCIAL – hurray!!!

This and so much more within our January 2021 Newsletter.

This week’s memory verse: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1
  • 1/2 – John 8:58
  • 1/3 – John 8:12
  • 1/4 – Revelation 1:8
  • 1/5 – John 10:11
  • 1/6 – John 14:6
  • 1/7 – John 11:25
  • 1/8 – 1 Timothy 1:17

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, Your Name is holy and all-powerful. Grant that I may witness strongly to Your Holy Name in my every interaction, evangelizing and welcoming people to meet You, blessing You always.

Blessed Be His Name!

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

How does it feel to be 101 years old? Pretty good I think, echoing Bishop Bernard’s message at our celebratory Holy Mass of Thanksgiving this past October.

Indeed, another year is dawning as we will hear in our recessional hymn. That hymn reminds us of all we must do as we enter our second centenary. We can repeat with the hymn our very heartfelt request to the Father, that the year and century ahead will be a time of working and waiting with God. A time of learning, trusting, mercies, faithfulness, graces, gladness, progress, praise, service, and training all while leaning on our Father’s breast as we anew prove His presence right here in our community.

It is a special grace that we begin our new century with the celebration of the Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus which fell on the first Sunday of this new year, 2022.

Anew – that is a word we will focus on in a very particular way for years to come. We together have spent the last decade in a lot of hard work building up this parish, strengthening it, readying it. Now is the time for the next great step.

We are indeed strong and ready to undertake a great mission – making the Holy Name of Jesus known once again by our evangelistic efforts.

I can recount some of what I used to encounter growing up. The Name of Jesus was well known and was respected. In fact, we understood each other often in relationship to the church or other place of worship we attended. 

For example, walking into a Synagogue, I knew what to do. The last time I walked into one and asked for a Kippah/Yarmulka, the Rabbi was surprised, perhaps not expecting that sign of respect. In my church, people who came for special events like weddings and funerals, even if they were not Catholic, knew to stand, sit, and kneel at appropriate times. That does not happen much anymore. The Name Jesus does not elicit respect, not out of disrespect or meanness, but rather out of a lack of knowledge. So, we have work to do.

We are called to the work of the first apostles and disciples. We are asked to bring the light of Jesus’ Holy Name into every corner of our world. We are to offer hope by our witness to the Holy Name of Jesus. It really is not difficult. We have the grace of God with us; that gives us confidence. Speak of and spread Jesus’ Holy Name as a personal mission. Welcome people to experience Jesus in simple discussions. Try this key: Ask people what matters to them, then discuss how God fits into that in our lives. If we do this, we will bless His Name.

This week’s memory verse: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33
  • 12/26 – Ephesians 4:11-12
  • 12/27 – 1 Corinthians 3:11
  • 12/28 – 1 Peter 2:4-5
  • 12/29 – Acts 2:42
  • 12/30 – 1 John 1:7
  • 12/31 – 1 Corinthians 14:26
  • 1/1 – Psalm 127:1

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, we stand in the light of Your presence. Grant that I may work diligently at building Your Kingdom here and now.

And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child

At our three Holy Masses of Christmas we saw references over and over again to Jesus as the light of the world, the light of heaven breaking into the world to change it forever.

We can certainly see how the Lord’s love and mercy have changed us. We no longer live in fear. Our life is eternal, the gates of heaven and all its light are opened to us. We have forgiveness of sin, we have a new relationship with God and to each other.

We who were once strangers and afar off are bound together in a new family, the family of the Church. We are given two important missions by God that spread the light of Christ.

Our first mission is to grow in our personal sanctification, to become more like Jesus, to walk better in His ways. We receive power and strength to do that through the many graces we receive both sacramentally and in living our everyday walk of faith.

Our other first mission, for it is equal to the necessity for sanctification, is to build the Kingdom of God right here and right now.

On Christmas 1919 Bishop Hodur addressed his congregation and spoke of the gap between the very materialistic view of the world, a world only concerned with bodily needs and wants, and the Savior Who came to build up both the body and the soul. He called this materialistic focus an illness, for the worldly do not perceive the wholeness God offers us in Jesus. They limit themselves by their deafness to His word and way.

Jesus pointed to the Kingdom and called us to build. We are to call people out of where they are, out of deafness, to what they can be, not only as individuals, but as a society.

This is the example we celebrate today on this very special Solemnity in our Holy Church – the Humble Shepherds, the Ubogich Pasterzy.

The Shepherds whose life was limited to the care of earthly material things, their flocks and pay and duties, encountered heaven. They met Christ Jesus their Lord and Messiah, God. They met Him as we meet Him each time we come to Holy Mass, participate, pray through the Eucharist, and receive Him. They were left with the same choice we all have. What will I do for my sanctification and for the building of the Kingdom?

The Shepherds set forth to announce and build the Kingdom. In the world’s eyes they remined poor, but in God’s eyes they became whole and rich. Let us decide to as well, as we renew our commitment to God’s mission for us. 

The people who walked in darkness
        have seen a great light;
    upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
        a light has shone.

Some of you may know that I like Bluegrass music, a very American expression of roots music. I couldn’t spend a Christmas without listening to Ralph Stanley’s, “Christmas Time’s A-Comin’.”

In Donna Ulisse’s Bluegrass album “All The Way To Bethlehem” you find a distinct focus on Jesus as the light of the world. In her music she walks us through the entire journey of God’s light coming into the world, from the Annunciation to the Visitation, Joseph’s dream, the journey to Bethlehem, the lack of lodging, Mary’s moment with the Baby Jesus, just she and He, the Angels’ proclamation, the star, the visit of the shepherds, and so much more. 

Tonight, all of heaven’s magnificent light broke into the world. All of God’s glory entered as a tiny sliver. That sliver came not to remain so, but to grow and spread. That light immediately began to grow and reveal Itself – from Mary, to Joseph, the shepherds, the Maji, the people of Judah and Jerusalem, the Samaritan towns, to the great sacrifice that delivers on all of God’s promises and opened all of heaven’s light to us. That light continues in the Holy Spirit who dwells in us so that we might be that light in the world. That is our charge, this day and for the ages to come.

Today we are limitless. We do not just recall the Light entering the world, we celebrate it. We proclaim it in song and in our time together in worship. We gather in our homes with friends and family around and tokens of our love for each other. We then take that light and spread it in limitless ways.

Today we recall and perhaps shed a tear or two for what was. That is ok. The next step, the next emotion and commitment must be to smile for what will be. In the end that is what this night is all about – a journey All The Way To Bethlehem – and returning with a smile for what will be, and our part in that work of light. Therefore, let your smile shine and your words as well – as we once again go forth to introduce a dark and tired world to the great light that is ours in Jesus the Lord.