July 14, 2019 | 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

We are delighted to welcome back the University of Iowa Newman Singers to lead us in song at all our Masses next weekend. They will also give a concert next Sunday at 3:00PM, and all are welcome to attend. The Newman Singers were with us last year at this time. Thanks to parishioner Carrie Nadziejko for arranging their return visit. While a student at the University of Iowa, Carrie sang with the Newman Singers and sings in our choir now.

At the beginning of July, we welcomed a new member to our parish staff. After serving as secretary for our Religious Education Program K-5 for 14 years, Cheryl Lohse retired at the end of June. We are pleased to welcome Jean Palasz (pronounced Palace) as our new secretary for our Religious Education Program K-5. Jean previously held a similar position at Ascension of Our Lord parish in Oakbrook Terrace. Jean looks forward to serving our parish families in her new position. Please welcome Jean when you next stop by the RE office! We now have two Jean’s in the RE office! Jean Rehmer who is secretary for Middle School through High School RE, and Jean Palasz who is secretary for K – 5 RE. Maybe to distinguish them apart, we should call Jean Rehmer “J.R.”? Naw, she looks nothing like Larry Hagman who played “J.R.” Ewing on the TV series Dallas. But we’re going to have to come up with some way to distinguish the two when you call.

This coming Saturday, July 20th, 73 of our parish teens and 14 adult chaperones including Deacon Senovio, will be leaving at 10:00AM for their summer mission trip to Charlotte, New York. Please pray for their safe journey to and from New York, as well as a spiritually fulfilling experience as they help others in need.

Have a safe and restful summer!

Fr Don

July 7, 2019 | 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

This past Thursday, we celebrated the 243rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence declaring our freedom as a nation and people. We are so very lucky to be living in the United States. Unabashed patriotism is appropriate for this holiday. But while we take pride in being citizens of this nation, we must not forget where our true citizenship is. As Christians, no matter what nation we live in, St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians reminds us that “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20) And that is not meant for just after we die. We are to live as citizens of heaven NOW, while we are on this earth! As citizens of heaven, we are to put the teachings of Jesus first in our lives – even when they may be in conflict with laws and policies of a particular government. God’s law is above man’s laws. As disciples of Jesus, we are sent like the 72 in today’s Gospel to bring the Good News and the core message of peace to those who don’t yet know Jesus. Luke in today’s Gospel wants to tell us that the mission of Jesus is not only carried forward by the so called experts like priests and religious, but it is the responsibility of every believer in Jesus. Jesus told his disciples to “Go and baptize all nations….” So again, our citizenship is in heaven regardless of the nation we live in. Throughout human history we have seen the rise and fall of many nations – even the greatest! The empires that once ruled the world no longer exist. So we are reminded not to put out trust in princes, but in God alone.

Let our most patriotic response this holiday be a song of thanksgiving for our opportunity to live in our great nation, not just the one on earth, but the one that will last forever……our citizenship is in heaven!

Have a blessed summer!

Fr Don

June 30, 2019 | 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Well, after the long period of Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi, we have returned to “Ordinary Time” in the Church liturgical calendar. The last Sunday we were in Ordinary Time was March 3, 2019. After a dreary month of May and not that great of a summer month of June thus far, it seems we will have a short summer. I guess we can pray for an “Indian Summer” for the fall.

Summer is traditionally a time for relaxation and recreation. Did you know that I was actually a recreation major when I was in college? I graduated in ’74 from Indiana State University with a BS degree in Recreation. My “specialty” was recreational therapy. Thus my first job out of college as the Activity Director at the Bensenville Home Society working with geriatric patients. But I could have been hired to work at a park district and likely become a community’s director of parks and recreation. But, God had a different plan, and here I am today. My college courses back then talked about the importance of recreation in our lives. You’ve heard the expression “all work and no play make Jack a very dull boy.” It’s true! We all need to take time out to be renewed and refreshed – even God took a day off! But so often today, recreation can even seem like work. How many of us have said after coming home from a vacation, that I need a vacation from the vacation! The word recreation means to re-create. Leisure time is good, and it’s perfectly fine to do absolutely nothing. While I like to bike and others like to golf, go to a baseball game or outdoor concerts, I sometimes just sit in one of those zero gravity chairs on the back deck of the rectory and do absolutely nothing but stare at the sky, using my imagination to “see” various things in cloud formations. I enjoy the breeze and listening to the wind-chimes while sipping a soda or glass of wine. We all need time to slow down, chill out, give our overactive brains a rest. This is what it means to recreate. I hope you find some time this summer to re-create your best self!!

With the summer months here, like last year, we experience people, often a family, standing before and after Masses on our sidewalks or in our parking lot, holdings a sign requesting money to help them purchase items they need for their family, tugging at your hearts. And of course, Jesus said “give to those who beg from you.” And you are certainly free to do that, but I would prefer that you tell them to call the parish office and through our St. Vincent de Paul Society, we will help them. I’ve politely asked them not to solicit from our parishioners, and they leave – but come back. So again, if you wish to give them something, you may do so, but I would prefer to help them through our St. Vincent de Paul Society.

As you know summer is a great time to travel. Friends of mine recently returned from France and shared the words on a sign of a church they visited (English translation): “When you enter this church it may be possible that you hear “the call of God”. However, it is unlikely that He will call you on your mobile. Thank you for turning off you phones. If you want to talk to God, enter, choose a quiet place and talk to Him. If you want to see Him, send Him a text while driving.”

Have a Blessed Summer!

Fr Don

June 23, 2019 | Corpus Christi Sunday

Today we celebrate the most central TRUTH of our Catholic Faith. Today we celebrate that the Eucharist IS the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus – no longer just bread and wine, but in essence the very presence of Jesus. It is incredibly important for us to understand what we do when we celebrate the Eucharist. Without this understanding, yes Mass might seem boring or as some complain “I don’t get anything out of it.” From the beginning, believers in Jesus had no doubt as to the wondrousness of the gift they received in the Eucharist. Paul’s faith in this great mystery is clearly evident in today’s second reading. His description of Jesus’ great gift predates the evangelists who wrote the gospels.

So, let us understand that through the gift of himself in bread and wine, Jesus continues to be the food that sustains us, as well as the source of our communion with him and one another. Around the altar-table of the Eucharist, we remember his dying, we celebrate his life and we enter into the mystery of God’s salvific love. Other food we eat is assimilated into our bodies and becomes a part of us. But, when we are nourished by the Eucharist WE are assimilated into Jesus and thereby become a part of HIM!!

We cannot take for granted so great a gift and so profound a UNION. But recall the Israelites in the desert who became weary of the manna and quail and started longing for the food they ate while in captivity in Egypt. Do we, too, ever grow weary of the gift we have come to receive so routinely? Do we just go through the motions at Mass?

Perhaps if we were to cultivate a hunger in our hearts and souls – hunger that arises from the NEED for communion, a hunger prompted by prayer, a hunger that can be satisfied only by Jesus himself – this hunger would drive us to long for our next sacred meal at which we will be fed with the bread of the Word and the bread of Eucharist.

Included in the rite of ordination of priests is the directive: “Understand what you do; imitate that which you handle.” These words affirm the priests’ privilege and responsibility to be so intimately attuned to Jesus in the gift of the Eucharist that they become, in their words and in their works, true witnesses who encourage the faith of others. “Understand what you do.” These words also apply to YOU – the people in the pews whose privilege it is to partake of the Eucharist and whose responsibility it is to tend the hungers of humanity. Jesus’ charge to his own, “Give them some food yourselves,” continues to be the agenda of the Church. Having fed upon the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, YOU are to flow forth from the sanctuary to inundate your neighborhoods, workplaces and schools with Christ so as to make an otherwise secular world sacred again. And that my brothers and sisters is what Fr. Mark and I mean when we talk about evangelization – all of us do it, not just the ordained!! May you understand what WE do every time Mass is celebrated! Join us in our Eucharistic procession today that begins at the end of the 12:30PM Mass. Celebrate a wondrous gift!!

Blessings and Peace on the Feast of Corpus Christi,

Fr Don

June 16, 2019 | Trinity Sunday

Happy Father’s Day to all dads and men who have been fatherly figures in our life! And how appropriate that Father’s Day this year falls on the Sunday we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is a celebration of the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Father’s Day celebrates the relationship of the father with his family.

Over the years of being a priest, I’ve come to realize that for some, Father’s Day or Mother’s Day evoke painful memories of past or current experience of an abusive or absent parent. For those of you for whom this is true, I pray for the healing of your memories, or if current, I pray for that parent to seek professional help. While we all have our faults and failings, and there is no “perfect” parent, a physically or emotionally abusive parent needs to be lovingly confronted to get help to understand the devastating consequences of their behavior on their spouse and children. Likely something of their own past needs to be healed so that an abusive parent can become a better parent, and model the bond between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

As Jesus speaks about the Spirit that he will send his disciples, the description becomes a mini-discourse on the Trinity. Jesus pledges to the disciples that the Spirit will keep them aware of who he is. Jesus, who had already proclaimed that he is the truth, now promises that the Spirit will guide them to all truth. He says that everything that the Father has is his and promises that the Spirit will give them what belongs to him. If the pronouns have been confusing and you are not sure who “he” is, that is because the three of them are described as one. Jesus taught that he and the Father are one, and that everything that the Father has is his. Now, he says that his work will be carried on through the Spirit, who will share with the disciples what belongs to him – and therefore to the Father. In this Gospel, Jesus promises the Spirit as the energy or bond that will bring his disciples to share his own union with God. So, as God as Father loves the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, dads are called into that intimate relationship with God and their spouses and children. So, on this Father’s Day, let’s celebrate the BEST in our dad. Let us be grateful for all they have done for us, and let them know of our gratitude. Let us pray for them that they will be faithful to their vocation. And for those of us (including myself) whose fathers are deceased, let us be thankful for good memories and pray they are at home with our Heavenly Father.

Happy Father’s Day!

Father Don

June 9, 2019 | Pentecost Sunday

This Sunday is the conclusion of Easter’s Fifty Days. The season of unabashed joy and gratitude is coming to its end. Although we tend to view Pentecost as a singular, standalone event, it is in fact the pinnacle of Easter. The 50 days between the bursting open of the tomb and the overflowing of the Spirit, does the full awareness of what it is to live in Christ, with Christ, and through Christ finally dawn. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Blessed Trinity, like the empty tomb, is hard for us to get our heads around. But as with the Easter event, there is some wonderful “evidence” left behind, clues that give us a glimpse of the ineffable, the unimaginable. I’m not talking doves or tongues of fire. The Spirit is evidenced by faith in action – the faith of the first church and our faith today. We know the Spirit is with us today because the church continues to journey together in spite of great human frailty, intractable pride and sexual sin. There is a new book out by Brian Flanagan that I want to read, entitled “Stumbling in Holiness: Sin and Sanctity in the Church.” We know the Spirit is with us because there are still heroes among us who choose justice over law and pay the prophet’s price. We know the Spirit is with us because men and women from many nations and faiths hear the same message of peace, compassion and human dignity.

We also know that forgiveness is integral to the mystery of salvation. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus connects healing to forgiveness. He says, “Your sins have been forgiven you” or “your faith has saved you.” And in his last breath, Jesus proclaims his forgiveness for the ones who have crucified him. Forgiveness, freely given by God to us through Christ, is our gift to one another as inheritors of His Spirit. Forgiveness is not an option. If we want to live like the redeemed, it must be our currency in the world. It must be ours because it was His. In the Eucharistic Prayer for Masses for Reconciliation the prayer says: “For though the human race is divided by dissension and discord yet we know that by testing us you change our hearts to prepare them for reconciliation. Even more, by your Spirit you move human hearts that enemies may speak to each other again, adversaries join hands, and peoples seek to meet together.” Our first reading today gives us the description of the Pentecost event. But, as I said in the beginning of this article, Pentecost is not a singular event….it is the pinnacle of the 50 days between the resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit. Our Gospel reading today is “on the evening of the first day of the week” – so Easter Sunday night. Jesus appeared to His disciples and He breathed on them saying: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” We commonly interpret this passage to be the beginning of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and it is. But, the Holy Spirit empowers all the baptized, not just the ordained priest, to be reconcilers. We are all called to forgive the sins of those who trespass against us. If we are to make a life of loving and forgiving one another, we need the Spirit now every bit as much as the apostles need the Spirit after the resurrection. The good news is, we have the Spirit, and this gift is the only one that really keeps on giving!

Blessed end of the Easter Season!

Father Don

Seven Great Reasons to Go to Confession Tomorrow (and Often)

by Tom Hoopes and The Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College | Aug 01, 2014

Confession is a gift that keeps on giving. Go early, go often and bring the kids.

At the Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College, we believe it is time for Catholics to imaginatively and vigorously promote confession.

But don’t take our word for it.

“The renewal of the Church in America depends on the renewal of the practice of penance,” Pope Benedict told us at Nationals Stadium in Washington.

Pope John Paul II spent his last years on earth pleading with Catholics to return to confession, including in an urgent motu proprio document about confession and in his encyclical on the Eucharist.

He called the crisis in the Church the crisis of confession and wrote to priests:

“I feel a pressing need to urge you, as I did last year, to rediscover for yourselves and help others to rediscover the beauty of the sacrament of reconciliation.”

Why all of this angst over confession? Because when we skip confession, we lose the sense of sin. The loss of the sense of sin is at the root of so many evils in our time, from child abuse to financial dishonesty, from abortion to atheism.

So, how to promote confession? Here are some talking points. Seven reasons to return to confession, both natural and supernatural.

  1. Sin aggravates you.
    A therapist tells the story about a patient who had been in a terrible cycle of depression and self-disgust ever since high school. Nothing seemed to help. One day, the therapist met the patient in front of a Catholic church. They ducked inside when it began raining, and witnessed people going to confession.

“Should I go too?” asked the patient, who had received the sacrament as a child. “No!” said the counselor. The patient went anyway, and emerged from the confessional with her first smile in years, and kept improving in the weeks to come. The therapist studied more about confession, eventually became Catholic and now counsels regular confession for all her Catholic patients.

Sin leads to depression because it isn’t just an arbitrary violation of rules: It’s a violation of the purpose built into our being by God. Confession lifts the guilt and anxiety caused by sin and heals you.

  1.  Sin makes you aggravating.
    In the movie 3:10 to Yuma, the villain Ben Wade says, “I don’t mess around with doing anything good, Dan. Do one good deed for somebody—I imagine it’s habit forming.” He is right. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” As the Catechism puts it: “Sin creates a proclivity to sin.” People don’t just lie; they become liars. We don’t just steal; we become thieves. Making a clean break from sin redefines you, allows you to start new habits of virtue.

“God is determined to deliver his children from slavery to lead them to freedom,” said Pope Benedict XVI. “And the worst and most profound slavery is that of sin.”

  1.  We need to say it.
    If you break a favorite item belonging to a friend, you would never be satisfied just feeling regret. You would feel compelled to explain what you did, express your sorrow, and do whatever is necessary set things right.

It is the same when we break something in our relationship with God. We need to say we’re sorry, and try to fix it.

Pope Benedict XVI points out that we should feel the need to confess even if we aren’t guilty of serious sin.

“We clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week, even if the dirt is always the same; in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again,” he said. “Something similar can be said about the soul.”

  1.  Confessing helps you know yourself.
    We get ourselves all wrong. Our self-opinion is like a series of funhouse mirrors. Sometimes we see a strong and wonderful awe-inspiring version of ourselves. Sometimes we see a grotesque and twisted hateful version of ourselves.

Confession forces us to look at our lives objectively, separate the real sins from the bad feelings and see ourselves as we really are.

As Pope Benedict XVI put it: “Confession helps us to make our consciences more alert, more open and hence, it also helps us to mature spiritually and as human persons.”

  1.  Confession helps children.

Children need to go to confession, too. Some writers have stressed the negative aspects of childhood confession—being lined up in their Catholic schools and “forced to think of things to feel guilty about.”

It needn’t be like that.

Catholic Digest editor Danielle Bean once explained about how her brothers and sisters would tear up their confession lists after confession and drop them down the gutter by the church. “What a liberation!” she wrote “Returning my sins to the dark underworld from whence they had come felt wholly appropriate. ‘Hit my sister six times’ and ‘talked back to my mother four times’ were no longer my burden to bear.”

Confession can give children a place to unburden themselves without fear, and a place to get kindly adult advice when they are worried about speaking to their parents. A good examination of conscience (like this one) can guide children toward appropriate things to confess. Many families make confession an outing, followed up with ice cream.

  1.  Confessing mortal sin is required.
    As the Catechism puts it, mortal sin, unconfessed “causes exclusion from Christ’s Kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices forever, with no turning back.”

Over and over again in the 21st century, the Church has reminded us that Catholics guilty of committing a mortal sin can’t go to communion without confession.

“One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge and deliberate consent,” says the Catechism.

The U.S. bishops reminded Catholics about common sins that constitute grave matter in the 2006 document “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper.” Those sins include: missing Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation, abortion and euthanasia, any extramarital sexual activity, theft, pornography, slander, hatred and envy.

  1.  Confession is a personal encounter with Christ.
    In confession, it’s Christ who heals and forgives us, through the ministry of the priest. We have a personal encounter with Christ in the confessional. Just like the shepherds and Magi at the crèche, we find awe and humility. And just like the saints at the crucifixion, we find gratitude, repentance and peace.

There is no greater accomplishment in life than helping another person return to confession.

We should be willing to talk about confession like we talk about every other significant event in our lives. The offhand comment, “I won’t be able to make it until later, because I need to get to confession,” can be more convicting than a theological discourse. And since confession is a significant event in our lives, it’s an appropriate answer to the question “What are you doing this weekend?” Many of us also have funny or interesting confession stories—tell them.

Help make confession normal again. Let as many people as possible discover the beauty of this freeing sacrament.

Tom Hoopes is Vice President of College Relations and writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. His writing has appeared in First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. Before joining Benedictine College, he was Executive Editor of the National Catholic Register. He has served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for 5 years. They have nine children. The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Benedictine College or the Gregorian Institute.

This article originally appeared on the Gregorian Blog of the Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College, Atchison, KS. Reposted with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

June 2, 2019 | Ascension Sunday

Our behalf of the parish community, I offer congratulations to all our parish graduates in the class of 2019! Whether from college and universities, high school, grammar school, kindergarten, schools of technology or professional career training, congratulations on your accomplishments and the discovery and development of your God given talents! May you all have a bright future!!

While I was away on vacation in California May 15th – 23rd, a scripture passage came to mind several times: “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place – what are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals, that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4- 5) Visiting Yosemite for the first time and experiencing the grandeur of El Capitan, the valleys and streams, and the powerfully flowing waterfalls (they had 180% of normal snowfall this year) and standing next to the giant Sequoias, I could only marvel at the grandness of God’s creation. That scripture passage came to mind again when I visited what I call the “outdoor cathedral.” There is a grove of costal redwood trees called Armstrong Woods in Guerneville. Some of these majestic redwoods are over 300 feet tall, 15 feet in diameter and 1,400 years old. It is the calmest and most still place on earth that I have ever been. It is so quiet that you can hear yourself think! And the intriguing and mysterious play of the sun light making its way through some of the trees adds to the specialness of this place. That scripture passage came to mind again when I went to the ocean at Bodega Bay, Jenner, and Fort Ross. Sitting and just being lulled into mindlessness by the rhythm of the waves one can only be refreshed and renewed. In all these places, I realized that God does have a plan. The millions and thousands of years it took for Yosemite to be carved, the redwoods and sequoias to grow, the ocean to form around the continents, God did this so that in time, we humans, mere mortals, could enjoy His creation. The beauty we see in nature today was created for US to enjoy today! “What are humans that you are mindful of them….Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet: All sheep and oxen, even the beast of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the seas, and whatever swims the paths of the seas. O Lord, our God, how awesome is your name through all the earth! May we be good stewards of what we have been given rule over!

Next weekend is Pentecost Sunday, the conclusion of the Easter Season. In addition to decorations and flowers, we encourage you to be a part of the celebration by wearing some red, yellow, or orange. And finally, please keep Fr. Mark in your prayers this week as he will be away on a silent retreat at Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska, June 3rd through 7th. Have a blessed final week of the Easter Season!

Fr Don

May 26, 2019 | Sixth Sunday of Easter

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus promises, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” Peace? What does Jesus mean by that? On this weekend that we observe Memorial Day, honoring those who gave their lives in battles for peace and freedom, peace still seems to be elusive in our day. Despite the victories in past wars, and despite all of the energy and resources we put into protecting ourselves, we still are not at peace. Perhaps we are looking for peace in the wrong place. Jesus urges, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” His words refocus us to the question, “What needs to happen in our hearts so that we can find peace.?” In contrast to today’s uneasy balance of power, Jesus modeled an authentic peace, which is far beyond what the world can offer. It is a peace that begins and ends in love. Tensions in families are often unavoidable. However, which is more likely to bring reassuring healing to this friction? Anger and revenge, or compassion and forgiveness? Turbulence in the markets can leave us greedily scrambling for an economic advantage, or we can humbly trust God to provide for our needs. Fear can alert us that something is dangerously wrong, but it can also paralyze us in the face of the threat. Solid solutions come from unruffled confidence and strong faith. Stress can keep us up at night, damage our health and suck the joy out of life. If we relax our bodies and quiet our brains, we can approach life with a more productive focus. We can become hardened to the strangers waiting at our borders, sleeping under our bridges, or languishing in our jails. Or the strangers can become our brothers and sisters, as we can extend a warm embrace, a helping hand and a patient concern. In the end, we can allow the world’s anxieties to empty our hearts, or we can open them to the fullness of love. What we can do as Christians to make peace when we find ourselves trapped in division and turmoil? In his priceless wisdom, Jesus gives His love freely and encourage us to invite His Spirit of love to dwell in our hearts. If we live in that love, we will be transformed into the peace Christ promises!

A couple of things you may have noticed (or not)…… one, to make it easier for those with disabilities, we have installed automatic power assist to one door at every entrance to the church and one into the PLC from the church vestibule. In the past, the only door with power assist was at the rear of the church off the small parking lot. Secondly, we have installed new sconce lighting in church. The old fixtures were inefficient and some were broken. The new fixtures are attractive and contain highly efficient LED bulbs. Thanks to Steve Dodd who planned and installed all of the new fixtures gratis. We are also looking at more efficient and brighter lighting for the church. Next, using the profits from last years’ MercyFest, new sound system equipment is being installed in the church on May 28th and 29th. And, last of all, there is a 10 slot bicycle rack near the entrance of church. A smaller rack is back by the chapel.

Have a safe Memorial Day holiday, and join us for Mass on Memorial Day at 9:00AM.

Fr Don

May 19, 2019 | Fifth Sunday of Easter

This weekend I am away on vacation. For all the times I have visited California, I have never been to Yosemite National Park. It’s been on my “bucket list” ever since I watched the Ken Burns series on the history of our national parks. By the time you read this article I will have been there, as I flew to Sacramento on Wednesday and spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at the park. Saturday through this coming Thursday I will be…guess where? The wine country of Sonoma County visiting friends there. Today, I am celebrating Sunday Masses at St. John the Baptist parish in Healdsburg. See you next weekend!!

Some thoughts about today’s gospel…. “I give you a new commandment”….certainly love of one another was not something new – read Leviticus 19:18. But what was new was to love one another as JESUS loved. This is the astonishing difference in loving if we are to be Jesus’ disciples. Let’s look at the characteristics of Jesus’ love and ask ourselves if those characteristics can be seen in our love.

Jesus’ love was unconditional. While hanging on the cross in agony, he forgave those who crucified him. Mary’s husband Tom was an abusive alcoholic. To protect herself and her children, they divorced. Her ex continued on his downward path. When his alcoholism destroyed his liver, and he was down and out and needed help, Mary cared for him until he died. Like Jesus’ love, hers was unconditional.

Jesus’ love was sacrificial. His first great sacrifice was becoming human. Jesus accepted the limits of time and space to embrace our humanity so that he could save us. When Kay learned that her brother-in-law needed a kidney, she agreed to be tested. She was a match. Despite the fact that she had three young children, she donated her kidney to save his life. Like Jesus’ love, hers was sacrificial.

Jesus loved social as well as the rich leaders. Jesus’ love did not discriminate. Jesus dined with prostitutes and tax collectors – as well as with Jewish leaders, the Pharisees, and scribes. Chris passed by a homeless man every evening when he was on her way to the train station. One day he stopped and asked him what he needed. Wise or not, he brought him home for the night. Chris and his family helped someone whom others had rejected. Like Jesus’ love, theirs did not discriminate.

Jesus treated all as equals. Jesus healed lepers and the Roman centurion’s servant. He washed the feet of the disciples and healed the pagan woman’s daughter. Joey was six when he ran ahead of his parents while touring Chicago’s lakefront. When they caught up with him, he was sitting on a stoop, chatting with a homeless, toothless man. Both were smiling. Like Jesus, Joey not only treated this man as an equal, he truly believed they were equals.

Jesus’s love was compassionate. Jesus had compassion for the widow of Nain and raised her only son to life. Jesus saw a hungry crowd and multiplied loaves and fish to feed them. Many OLM parishioners volunteer at Hesed House to help the homeless. Like Jesus’ love, theirs is compassionate.

As we continue the Easter Season, I wish you joy!

Fr Don