Now Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!
June 13 – Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks in parables. Parables were Jesus’ favorite way of teaching. He used parables because parables force you to think. You have to pause and use your imagination to consider how the kingdom of God is like two sons, or ten virgins, or a treasure found in a field. Today Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. What is he trying to say? Parables always have multiple meanings. I suggest to you one possible meaning of this parable today of the mustard seed is that Jesus is telling us that small things matter.
The parable is very clear on this. The mustard seed is the smallest possible seed. Yet, once it is planted, it grows into a sizeable plant that can give shade to birds. The mustard seed is very small, just a speck. It would be so easy to lose it or to ignore it or to discard it. But doing any of those things, we would miss the opportunity to see how it would grow and what it would become. The lesson of the mustard seed is important, because we live in a culture that values what is big and impressive. We get excited about a new car or better clothes or the most recent laptop or smart phone that at times we overlook what seems to be less. That is unfortunate, because small things matter. They matter because God uses them, and they matter in two different ways. They matter in the actions that we do, and they matter in the things we receive.
As we live any day of our life, we should never discount the small things we can do: a word of love or support to our spouse, a few moments to affirm a son or daughter about something they are good at or something that they have achieved, a phone call to a friend who is grieving the death of a loved one, or even a thankful smile instead of a vacant stare as we approach the cashier in the supermarket. These are small things, tiny; things, things that could seem to have no significance. Yet they can be important because God can choose to use them to build up some person in our lives and to increase the goodness around us. We should never discount doing small things in the course of every day!
But neither should we overlook the importance of receiving small things each day. For each day there are people in our lives who give us signs of love and support. How much richer our lives would be if we were open to accept those signs and take them in….the smile of a 3-year old child, the person who breaks to let us into traffic, a friend who says to us “How are you? How are you really?” All of these are signs that God is using to show us that we are loved and that there are reasons for hope.
Big and flashy things always seem important. But small things matter. Things a little as a mustard seed can shape our lives. We can be the farmer who plants the mustard seed or the soil that receives it – the giver or the receiver. In both cases, small things like a mustard seed can make a difference. God uses the small things in our lives to build the kingdom of God. SMALL THINGS MATTER!
Have a blessed week!
June 6 – The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Today we celebrate the foundational Catholic truth that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, which unfortunately during this COVID pandemic, which started in March 2020, many have been deprived of receiving. Today we celebrate the Body and Blood of Jesus – our communion with Him through the Eucharist. As I said, many, for various reasons have not be able to come to Mass and are spiritually starving! Technology allowed us to livestream Mass to watch on television and mobile devices, but technology cannot provide for receiving Holy Communion. During the pandemic, our bishop gave a general dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. I suspect the obligation to attend Sunday Mass will be re-instated soon (if it already hasn’t been since I’ve written this article).
One of the aspirational values we are encouraging our parishioners to embrace is the Primacy of Sunday Eucharist. We dream to be a parish where everyone hungers to be nourished by the true presence of Christ in Word and Eucharist, giving priority to coming to Mass every Sunday. That means not attending Mass only if we can fit it in our schedule between kids sporting events, projects we want to get done around the house, and any of the numerous reasons we can find for not attending Mass. Instead, we attend Mass BEFORE (or after) doing all the other activities in our schedule. Why?
Can you recall what was your most memorable meal? This question was posed by a hostess at a dinner party, and she received a variety of answers. One couple said that their most memorable meal was a three course dinner which was made by an executive chef for them on their honeymoon while on a river cruise in Paris. Another couple said that their most memorable was the first time their children served them breakfast in bed on their anniversary. A man who had been a boy scout said his most memorable meal was a meal of hobo hamburgers, which he prepared in tin foil over a campfire. A mother of three said her most memorable meal was a meal at which she ate nothing. It was the first time she nursed her newborn son.
I would add that your First Communion should be included in your list of most memorable meals! The truth is that the Eucharist is the perfect meal! Because, in this meal we share the body and blood of Christ, the real presence of our Savior. Christ is the source of life and therefore the source of all the blessing in our lives, which we commemorate in all the other meals we celebrate. The Eucharist is the meal which is the source of all our meals, because in the Eucharist, we encounter the author of life who is the source of every blessing. Through Christ we are blessed in our family, our friends, our talents, and our possessions. All of these gifts come for Christ. In the Eucharist we encounter Him and celebrate the blessings we have received! That should have priority in our Sunday meal plans!!
Have a blessed week!
May 30 -The Most Holy Trinity
One of the things that Fr. James and I do is to take turns at being “on call” to respond as soon as possible to various pastoral emergencies. It is a rare occasion that both of us are unable to respond quickly to a pastoral emergency. But, did you realize that you are “on call” too? On this feast of the Most Holy Trinity, we celebrate the mystery that God: Father, Son, and Spirit, has called us into an intimate relationship of love; has made us God’s own daughters and sons. But that relationship is a two way street. Not only do we expect things from God, but God expects things from us. God made us. God saves us. God sends us. God has a plan for the world, and we are part of that plan. That is why as sons and daughters of God we must always be ready to hear the word “Go” – “Go” is the word that God uses when there is something for us to do. The disciples hear the word in today’s gospel. “Go and make disciples of all the nations.” But this command does not only apply to the first disciples. It applies to all disciples. It applies to us. We must be ready to go.
To what God is sending you I cannot say, but the fact that God is sending you is not in doubt. Sending is what God does to God’s daughters and sons. God make us. God saves us. God sends us. If you want to know to what God is sending you, all you need to do is listen. We wake up each day and we plan our own schedule. First I’ll do this, then I’ll do that, and if there’s time, I’ll fit this in. But do any of us in all honesty ask the question, “Lord, is there anything you want me to do today?”
I dare you to ask that question! Whether you’re in the fourth grade or you’ve just retired, whether you’re married or you’re single, whether you’re healthy or you’re sick – I dare you to ask, “Lord, is there anything you want me to do today?” I promise you that if you ask, God will answer. It may be in that moment, or an hour later, or a day later, but if you ask, you will hear God say, “Go.” “Go to that person at work and tell him or her….” “Go to your friend and ask him/her…….” “Go to the phone and call……” “Go to your spouse….Go to your daughter…..Go to your neighbor….and do this.”
God has a plan for this world. You are part of that plan. As sons and daughters of God we must always be ready to be sent. Christians are always “on call.” So ask the question, “Lord is there anything you want me to do today?” If you ask, God will answer, and you will soon find yourself going forth to do your Father’s will.
Have a blessed week!
May 23 – Pentecost
In case you didn’t see my May 10 announcement……
PRAISE BE JESUS CHRIST! LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!!
As you know, our governor announced last week that barring a resurgence of COVID-19, the state could move to stage 5 of re-opening on June 11, which removes nearly all COVID restrictions. For now however, ALL protocols by the state and Diocese of Joliet are still in effect at our parish churches and facilities. I will keep you informed when there are changes.
What the Diocese is doing……
On April 14, Bishop Hicks instructed pastors of all parishes to establish a “Reunite in Christ” task force. Besides myself, Fr. James and Deacon Tom Logue, serving on the task force will be Doug McIlvaine, Zara Tan, Phil Zwick, Miroslava Manzanares, and Alex Baier. Doug McIlvaine is chair of the task force.
The purpose of the task force is to dream and implement pastoral plans for when we can welcome everyone back to parish life without restrictions on the number of people who can attend and participate in parish programs and activities. A primary task will be giving priority to returning to Sunday Mass when the Bishop re-instates the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. One of the aspirational goals we set in 2019 was and still is, to be a parish where everyone hungers to be nourished by the true presence of Christ in Word and Eucharist, giving priority to coming to Mass every Sunday.
The task force will also plan and set a date for a weekend festive celebration of fully reopening.
I will keep you apprized as plans are developed and when the Diocese changes any of the current COVID protocols. Thank you for your cooperation and patience during this long pandemic.
Today we celebrate Pentecost……the birthday of the Church! May the Holy Spirit fill us with wisdom and joy as we prepare to move past the COVID pandemic and fully reopen and reunite in Christ our parish church and facilities.
Happy Birthday to all of you – the church!
May 16 – The Ascension of the Lord
Many of you my age remember the song “Up, Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon” sung by the Fifth Dimension. As we celebrate the Ascension today, perhaps up, up but NOT away would be our song. While Jesus is out of sight, he is not out of mind or presence. His presence can be experienced in many ways, or as the Gospel accounts today, through signs. Jesus reminds us that he is with us until the end of the world. How? First, in his church. But not only in holy places or shrines, but in the people who are the church. When I was pastor of St. Michael in Wheaton (2001 – 2012), the church was destroyed by an arson fire in 2002. That morning one of the news reporters on the scene asked me, “Father, how do you feel about losing your church?” I responded, “we didn’t lose the church, we only lost the building where the church gathers.”
On this feast of the Ascension, we celebrate the truth that Jesus has ascended and entered into glory and is seated at God’s right hand. But just because Jesus has sat down, does not mean that his work is finished. The Kingdom of God is not yet fully established. There is still violence and injustice in our world. Jesus will need to return at the end of time to finally establish God’s Kingdom in its fullness. Until the time when Jesus returns, he expects us to be active.
Jesus expects us to work for justice, to proclaim the good news of God’s love. This is what we are called to do. The gospel makes it clear, Jesus says to the disciples, “Go out to all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole of creation.” The gospel also makes it clear that our mission cannot be successful unless it is accompanied by signs. Signs make other people take notice. They set us apart and validate the power and the truth of the message. Words are not enough! Signs are necessary if the gospel is to be fully confirmed and believed.
While the signs mentioned in today’s gospel may seem rather extreme, may I suggest a few “kingdom” signs: What if some objected to having a co-worker or a fellow student belittled or refused to laugh at a racist joke? What if someone stood up to defend another who was being ignored? That could be a sign of the Kingdom. What if someone decided to be patient with another person who annoyed them? What if instead of discounting that person or saying offensive things to them, a person would choose to listen and perhaps understand where that person was coming from? That could be a sign of the Kingdom. What if parents occasionally set aside their work, set aside their household tasks and their multiple schedules and created a space where the family could simply gather and listen to one another’s lives? That could be a kingdom sign. Whatever causes people to notice, sets us apart, goes against the grain – if it is oriented toward justice and love – can be a sign of the Kingdom of God!
Have a blessed Easter Season!